: Using biofeedback ➤ 'EEG Meditation' Android app

Comparison of the 3 headsets for meditation:

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, Muse and Melomind

This article is about comparison of the 3 probably best headsets for meditation. General questions of EEG meditation and various applications for PC are described in this article.

1. Software for meditation 2. The comfort of wearing 3. The overall comfort of use for meditation 4. Reliability of data 5. Price 6. Total
NeuroSky MindWave Mobile A lot of available 9/10 9/10. You can start meditate and get biofeedback just in a few seconds. 10/10 with clean sensors and skin. It is better to clean the sensors after 2-3 meditation sessions. 100$ 10/10
Muse A few* 9/10 8/10. You can start meditate after 2.5 minute of tuning of the sensors and lection, and get any results only after a few minutes meditation session with available software.* 10/10 with clean sensors and skin. Although there are 7 sensors against 3 of NeuroSky, you still need to clean it after 2-3 sessions. 250$ 9/10*
Melomind A few* 9/10 No data available. But it seems more like musical relaxation device.* No data available. Supposed to be 10/10 regardless of the regular cleaning of the sensors. 400$ 8/10*
* Until suitable software will be available specifically for meditation.

 - NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG Headset The NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headset is available since 2011, and at the end of 2016 an improved "+" version was released. This is the first mass gadget to read the EEG, and at the moment, sold more than 4 million sets, which makes this headset also the absolute leader in sales among all varieties of similar (EEG) devices, including for meditation. In addition, the company also sells the "base" of the headset the TGAM module, which provides EEG reading and its transfer via the COM port, which is used in a variety of projects.

1. Given the already 7-year presence of the headset on the market, as well as its dominance over other types of headsets, it is not surprising that there is a wide range of applications for it, including for meditation. For the meditators, NeuroExperimenter applications for PC, EEG meditation for Android, and the Brainwave Visualizer application with its Float game, available for PC, Android and iOS, may be of interest. A free SDK is available for writing your own applications.

2. When putting the headset on the head, the upper plastic adjustable headband, which performs only the mechanical function of fixing the headset on the head, can spoil the magnificent hairdress, if any. On the other hand, any headphones with an upper headband also press the hairdress to the scalp. Some argue that the headset is uncomfortable, and they get the headache after half an hour of wearing it. The author of this article did not experience that, and can also advise you to find a comfortable position of the headset on your head and try to maximally pull the upper adjustable headband.

3. This headset provides a possibility to start meditation with biofeedback in just a few (about 5) seconds after turning it on. At the same time there are applications for any "taste" both with immediate biofeedback, and with a delay (the game Float). You do not need to wait for the headset to determine for one-and-a-half minutes what of the 7 sensors are now more or less clean, and then also listen to a minute of a lecture on meditation, as in the case of Muse. The only possible disadvantage the headset can be inconvenient for long-term wearing by some people.

4. In spite of the fact that the center of alpha-wave generation in the head is closest to occipital region, with clean surfaces of sensors and skin at the points of contact, this EEG can be trusted by 90% or more. In fact, this is a full-fledged single-channel electroencephalograph. As with most such devices, it is recommended to wipe the skin surface at the points of contact with medical nonwoven alcohol disinfection cotton pad for injection almost every time before using the headset, as well as periodically the metal contacts of the headset sensors, especially the one for forehead.

5. This is the cheapest ($100) headset from the number of fully ready to use (not semi-finished products). Now the company is promoting a new BrainLink Pro headset for $200 with the same TGAM module, but in a form reminiscent of Muse and with a lithium battery.

6. As of 2018, the headset still remains the actual leader among such devices. Cheapness, a lot of different applications and the ability to use a headset for meditation just in a few seconds after it's turned on these are all pluses of the NeuroSky MindWave Mobile gadget.

Muse Headset The Muse headset appeared in May 2014. The main differences from the NeuroSky headset are the lack of an upper headband, the presence of a built-in lithium battery and 7 sensors (5 on the forehead and 2 on the head skin behind the ears) instead of 3 of NeuroSky. In fact, Muse looks like an attempt to improve the first mass similar headset (NeuroSky).

1. The number of applications is very limited. The basic application for meditation has its drawbacks (see subsection 3). An SDK is available for writing your own applications, which is free only if you write free applications.

2. Despite the absence of the upper headband (this is a "+"), some people say about the inconvenience of wearing a headset, because to ensure a quality signal it still needs to be pressed hard enough to the head. According to some people, this can cause a headache with prolonged wearing.

3. The basic application for meditation at the beginning spends a minute for calibration with voice prompts (and then one more minute could be spent for a lecture on meditation) before proceeding to actually reading the EEG. The application suggests pre-setting the duration of the meditation session in minutes (which also limits the user's ability). Biofeedback is limited in these minutes of meditation, the application also shows the final values and a graph after the end of the meditation session. Headset helps you to know your ability to meditate, and also allows you to improve your meditation by real-time biofeedback, although it is somewhat limited in its capabilities.

4. In spite of the fact that the center of alpha-wave generation in the head is closest to occipital region, with clean surfaces of sensors and skin at the points of contact, data of 4-6 EEG channels can be trusted by 90% or more. As with most of these devices, it is recommended to wipe the skin surface at the points of contact with medical nonwoven alcohol disinfection cotton pad for injection almost every time before using the headset, as well as periodically the metal contacts of the headset sensors also. Otherwise, especially in a hot climate, EEG data may not be reliable enough, despite the large number of sensors, since they still get contaminated all at the same time.

5. The average price is $250, which is much larger than one of the most common similar gadget.

6. In general, this is a good attempt to create competition in the market for such devices. The only thing I would like to see for this device is convenient applications for meditation. May be one-and-a-half minutes of technical delay will not allow to write an application that allows you to immediately start a session of meditation with biofeedback in real time.

I have done more than ten sessions with put on at the same time NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 and Muse 1 neuroheadsets (Muse Model MU-02 2016, this is not Muse 2 Model MU-03 2018). In this article, a session is given that most characteristically and typically conveys the difference between the two practically unique serial neuroheadsets in the world with the meditation parameter.

I must say right away that in many sessions the correlation was noticeably worse, this session is the best one. Sometimes the noise level of the mind in Muse (in the application of this neuroheadset, the meditation graph is turned upside down compared to NeuroSky) was so low that it did not make sense to stretch it vertically, and in general the correlation of the graphs was weak. Sometimes quite long sections of one hundred percent or no less than eighty percent meditation on the NeuroSky graph were not achieved, which also did not allow to clearly show the difference between two neuroheadsets. Sometimes these sections, on the contrary, were too smooth, which also did not make it possible to understand the difference (see paragraph 2).

The Muse meditation session lasted for exactly 3 minutes, not counting almost a minute of mandatory prior calibration. The NeuroSky meditation session lasted a little longer to show the state of the mind and brain rhythms during the Muse calibration, so that the Muse data during the main three-minute part of the meditation session, the start and end of which are indicated by two yellow vertical lines, were more understandable.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse neuro headsets

For the first few seconds of the main three-minute part of the session, Muse does not display meditation data - they are hidden by a vertical column, and this can be seen in the lower graph. Further, the chronology will be given in the upper graph with the time from the NeuroSky session.

1. The seconds from the 46th to the 60th show a similar increase in the level of meditation. The coincidence, of course, is not complete, but quite acceptable.

2. The seconds from the 60th to the 118th are the most interesting part of the schedule, largely because of which this session was chosen for comparison. While NeuroSky (blue graph) values jump from 100 to 65, Muse shows a consistently high level of meditation. It follows that either the algorithms for high levels of meditation differ and rely on different EEG data, or at high values of the level of meditation Muse averages data with a tendency to higher "averaged" values, if, for example, those are available. I must say right away that 65% (at the 74th second) and 70% (at the 93rd second) of the NeuroSky meditation level is no longer meditation, and certainly not shamatha. Perhaps the creators of Muse do not want to upset their users, leaving them in a sweet illusion of still (or already) staying in a state of meditation, greatly averaging and overstating the data at relatively high levels of meditation.

3. The seconds from the 118th to the second yellow vertical line show a good correlation of the data of the two neuroheadsets, with the same overestimation of the data at relatively high values in the intervals from 142nd to 160th and from 170th to 195th seconds.

4. The almost synchronous decrease in the level of meditation on both graphs at the 126th second and, especially, at the 198th second show a good correlation of the data of the two neuroheadsets at low levels of meditation, although a drop at the 210th second shows that the algorithms at low values of the level of meditation are also somewhat different.

The general conclusion is that NeuroSky is more demanding on a meditator at high levels of meditation than Muse. On the other hand, if during a meditation session with NeuroSky the meditator experiences almost stress :) with frequent drops in the level of meditation to 60%-70%, then meditation with Muse will make you feel more comfortable and, perhaps, in fact its even better to meditate with Muse, however, the meditator will not know that in fact not everything turns out as perfect as it seems to him :)

Also, according to my perceptions, NeuroSky easily and immediately detects (1) any thoughts, even weak ones - the level of meditation falls below 80%, and (2) too gross "awareness of awareness" - the level of meditation also falls below 80% during maximum 4 seconds after that. NeuroSky is best suited for those who want to train a real Buddhist shamatha or yogic dhyana / samadhi. At the same time, Muse is more like a device for mental relaxation. Firstly, the data on the Muse graph is highly dependent on the state of mind during the mandatory preliminary minute of calibration (not counting individual lectures, some of which cannot be turned off at first). Secondly, the meditation parameter itself is noticeably less demanding than that of NeuroSky. Muse is more suitable for training mental relaxation or for yoga classes to teach students the basics of meditation.

Given that NeuroSky ($100) is also about 2 times cheaper than Muse ($160-$250), NeuroSky is better in almost every way. If, in EEG Meditation application (here or here), you set the threshold to 60% and select in the Windows application your own melody with birds, then NeuroSky can generally be used instead of Muse :)

Melomind Headset The Melomind headset appeared in a limited sale in late 2016. At the moment this is the most promising headset, but, apparently, is not yet the most convenient for meditators. "Melo" in the title means "melody", and this indicates its musical orientation. Currently, it is positioned primarily as a device for removing mental stress, combining soft music with biofeedback. In addition, this headset is still not available for free sale and is only available on pre-order.

1. The number of applications is very limited. SDK is available for writing your own applications. Unfortunately, this headset remains a semi-closed "club" device, and its comparison is carried out with the help of the small reviews available on the Internet.

2. This is the most convenient device for meditation in the sitting position, not only from among the three listed, but also among the absolute majority of similar headsets. In fact, this headset is almost no different from the headphones, but still it will not be possible to lie comfortably with it on the pillow because of the two sensors on the back of the head.

3. Unfortunately, this headset remains a semi-closed "club" device, and its comparison is carried out on the basis of the few reviews available on the Internet. At the moment, there is no information about whether there are suitable applications for the actual practice of meditation, rather than the now proposed removal of mental tension under relaxing music with control of the degree of relaxation with the help of biofeedback.

4. Apparently, the sensors and electronics are designed so that you do not have to wipe skin or sensors before a meditation session. In addition, the data is read directly from the occipital area, and this arrangement of the sensors should provide the most reliable signal. All this is the largest "+" of this headset, making it promising.

5. This is the most expensive ($400) of three headsets (and one of the most expensive at all). In addition, it is still absent from the free sale in stores and is only available on pre-order. More expensive are just such headsets as the Versus Headset ($918).

6. If / when there are applications focused specifically on the meditators, and in case of a reduction in the price of the headset, it can become one of the most interesting.

As of the beginning of 2018, the most acceptable headset for meditators is the permanent leader of recent years NeuroSky MindWave Mobile.

Meditation with biofeedback using the electroencephalograph gadget NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, or accelerated self-study of meditation.

Questions and Answers on NeuroSky MindWave Mobile neuroheadset in the context of meditation practice.

The free 'EEG Meditation' app for Android.

The free 'EEG Meditation' app for Windows PC, for the white or black headsets.

The arguments in favor of the use of EEG headsets, such as NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, for meditation.

What meditation is and how to meditate.

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile . -.