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


NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 headset

Here are the most frequently asked questions and answers on NeuroSky neuroheadsets. General issues of EEG meditation and various applications are described in this article.

Firstly it is necessary to clarify that the answers to various technical questions on the use of NeuroSky neuroheadsets of various versions are given in English on this page. This article discusses the use of the NeuroSky neuroheadset primarily in the practice of meditation and with an emphasis on typical questions of meditators.

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1. Is it true that the NeuroSky neuroheadset reads an EEG (electroencephalogram)? Or maybe it's all not true? After all, a medical electroencephalograph costs $ 5,000 $ 50,000, and this headset is only $ 100? Maybe it only reads the myogram (electrical impulses of the muscles), or even takes data out of blue?

Answer: The NeuroSky neuroheadset actually reads an EEG (electroencephalogram). At its core, this is a real single-channel electroencephalograph. Scientific and technical progress and miniaturization of microelectronics made it possible to create a relatively cheap household consumer version of such a device. Since 2011, NeuroSky has sold more than 4 million of neuroheadsets and TGAM modules (27.9 mm x 15.2 mm x 2.5 mm in size), which is the basis of the neuroheadset, providing EEG reading and data output to the COM port for further transmission via Bluetooth or other methods, and which is used in a variety of devices of other companies. As in the case with any professional electroencephalograph, to obtain the most reliable EEG data, the neuroheadset requires wiping the contacts and skin in appropriate places with an alcohol disinfection pad before the session of meditation. At the same time, the neuroheadset uses modern dry contacts and does not require the application of a conductive gel on the head.

2. Or maybe this neuroheadset is recording something in my brain? What if it zombies me?

Answer: The neuroheadset is essentially a single-channel electroencephalograph. It only reads the electrical impulses of your neurons from the surface of the head. It cannot send any electrical impulses to the electrodes and, in principle, cannot stimulate the brain with electrical signals, even if some evil programmer would like to develop an application for this :) .

3. Why do I need a neuroheadset? I already meditate for a month / year / 10 years and do yoga / teach yoga. And I can track the thoughtlessness myself.

Answer: Meditation is a delicate process of purposeful and controlled activity of consciousness. About 10 years ago, before the advent of neuroheadsets, massive objective control of the presence of a state of meditation was technically impossible, and over the century of popularization of meditation in the West, many myths about meditation and actual cargo cults have arisen. There are many examples of people who believe that they have been meditating every day for years (and that's not counting even more who claim to meditate every day ;) ), but, in reality, they only sit on the meditation mat, and actually they dont know how to meditate. In addition, thoughtlessness alone does not guarantee meditation. And again, a delicate balance of mind is necessary between states of increased activity and fatigue / drowsiness. Just as it is impossible to immediately learn to walk the rope, so beginning meditators constantly skip a state of meditation, being unable to maintain this "balance" of the mind. Neuroheadsets are a revolution in the study of meditation. Previously, for such a task, you would need a clairvoyant guru who would have to tell you every day that at this moment you are in a state of meditation, and after 2 seconds you completely (or half) left it.

4. Will this neuroheadset meditate for me? Will I wear it and immediately become a Buddha?

Answer: No, the neuroheadset can only exactly to determine whether you yourself are in a state of meditation, and to what extent. It cannot and will never meditate instead of you. Alas, you have to meditate yourself. But, thanks to neurofeedback, the neuroheadset allows you to accelerate the self-sustained study of meditation. With the help of a neuroheadset, you can catch moments of being in meditation and learn to be in them more often. Meditation is a skill that develops slowly. The neuroheadset can be compared to collapsible dumbbells, which, by itself, simply being in the same room with you, will not change you. At the same time, without a neuroheadset, there is a chance to wander in the dark and never really begin to meditate.

5. The headset has some ready-made "meditation" parameter, which is used by many applications and every second shows the level of meditation in percent. Is this some kind of brain rhythm? What is this all about?

Answer: These are not the values of any one of the rhythms of the brain, but the aggregate parameter. The algorithm for calculating the values of the meditation parameter once a second, based on the values of all brain rhythms, was developed by NeuroSky as a result of many years of research of 14 masters of meditation, including Buddhist monks with extensive experience in meditation, and is not publicly available. The values of the algorithm are calculated microprogrammatically inside the TGAM module and are issued by the neuroheadset once a second, and are not calculated programmatically in applications based on raw EEG data (unlike, for example, the Muse neuroheadset).

6. What brain rhythms are associated with the meditation parameter? And how exactly?

Answer: The algorithm for calculating the meditation parameter once a second, as indicated earlier, is not publicly available. Judging by the experience of using the NeuroSky neuroheadset, in fact, the meditation parameter depends on the ratio of the alpha low (Alpha1) rhythm values (increasing in meditation) and the beta high (Beta2) rhythm (decreasing in meditation). Active Beta2 rhythm is typical for the noisy non-meditating mind with thoughts. At the same time, high values of the rhythms Gamma2 (gamma high) and Gamma1 (gamma low), possibly increase not only the values of the attention parameter, but also meditation. Active Alpha2 rhythm also has a positive effect on meditation (but perhaps to a lesser extent than Alpha1), while active Beta1, Theta, and Delta rhythms decrease the value of the meditation parameter. It is possible that the TGAM module (inside the neuroheadset) analyze not the ready-made rhythms values, but directly the raw EEG that it receives at the input, for example, assessing the level of meditation by the presence of certain teeth of an electroencephalogram of a certain shape, or by other parameters of the EEG signal. An analysis of the rhythm values per second during numerous long (at least for 15 seconds) continuous periods of one hundred percent values of the "meditation" parameter showed a noticeable and not entirely clear scatter of the rhythms values and their interrelations, with the general tendency for Alpha1 rhythm to dominate. In addition, the calculation of the meditation parameter is based on the rhythms values for the last few seconds, and not just for one last second. Moreover, the technical delay between the state of mind and the value of the meditation parameter is 0.5-2 seconds. At the end of this article, an example is given with brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation. If you are not satisfied with the ready-made "meditation" parameter, then there is an excellent NeuroExperimenter application for experimenting with different interpretations of rhythms and their combinations.

Screenshot of the free EEG Meditation application for Windows

7. What kind of meditation does this meditation parameter show dhyana, shamatha, metta, visualization meditation, Maharishi TM or something else?

Answer: There are currently no direct statements by NeuroSky about what meditation the algorithm of the meditation parameter is set to (or according to which it is calibrated). Based on some statements by company representatives and the experience of using the neuroheadset by various users, it can be concluded that the meditation parameter corresponds to shamatha the basic meditation of Buddhism, and also, in general, dhyana the basic yogic meditation (raja yoga). Also, it actually corresponds to Maharishi TM (Transcendental Meditation). The training of these two basic meditations shamatha in Buddhism and dhyana in yoga is the most difficult initial stage of practice, which usually stretches over years, decades or many lives.

8. Why to train basic meditation shamatha or dhyana for so long? Why not to start immediately with the more useful vipashyana and samyamas?

Answer: The effectiveness of subsequent practices self-inquiry, vipashyana in Buddhism and various samyamas in yoga depends on the current mastery in shamatha and dhyana. The better the ability to meditate, the clearer the state of consciousness and its ability to what is called concentration in Buddhism (which can be interpreted as penetrating clarity), the greater the result can be achieved in subsequent practices. In Buddhism, it is believed that the duration of stay in shamatha without a single thought should be brought up to 3-4 hours. If a person is not able to stay for at least a few minutes in a state of meditation without the meditation parameter falling below 80% -90%, then there is no point in talking about the effectiveness of subsequent practices, since these will be mainly the usual play of mind. Understanding ideas on a mental level is the activity of the mind-manas, which is inert in nature, in contrast to catching new ideas by buddhi (vijnanamaya-kosha), which slowly develops in the process of meditation practice. Understanding transcendental ideas only at the level of the mind resembles a cargo cult of spirituality and self-development.

9. Does the neuroheadset read my thoughts? What if someone finds out what Im thinking about?

Answer: No, the neuroheadset is not physically able to read thoughts. The issue of technical reading of thoughts is still unresolved even with using the most expensive equipment.

10. There are NeuroSky neuroheadsets of different colors and different versions. What is the difference?

At the time of this writing, 4 main versions of the NeuroSky neuroheadset are available, as well as several versions of similar neuroheadsets of the Sichiray Chinese (Wuxi) company. The white NeuroSky MindWave headset does not have a Bluetooth and communicates with its USB transceiver; it only can be connected to computers with USB, and does not connect to smartphones. The three black NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headsets (basic, + and 2) have Bluetooth and differ both in the version of the microelectronics and in shape. Below is a brief descrition of versions.

80013-001 "NeuroSky MindWave" in white color, without Bluetooth, with its own USB transceiver. It works only with computers with USB, does not work with smartphones. The most convenient applications for meditation practice are BrainWave Visualizer for Windows PC and MacOS, "EEG meditation" for Windows PC and NeuroExperimenter for Windows PC. It appeared in 2011 and costs about $ 80 in the United States. Available from the Chinese, as well as in stocks in stores in the United States.

80013-006 is the Chinese version of Sichiray's white NeuroSky MindWave. It is a complete analogue of the white non-mobile neuroheadset 80013-001, but a version with Bluetooth with limited functionality is released under the same number 80013-006, that works only with Windows computers and Android devices (does not work with macOS and iOS), on a drop-shaped blue sticker on such a Bluetooth version you can see Model: MW003, that is, as black Mobile, but it does not work with Apple products. This version is available only from the Chinese.

80027-005 the first version of the universal black headset "NeuroSky MindWave Mobile" with Bluetooth 2 (for 60 Hz, 80027-006 is for 50 Hz), currently available only in used condition and very rare. It appeared in 2011 and cost about $ 100 in the United States.

80027-007 the second version of the universal black headset "NeuroSky MindWave Mobile" with Bluetooth 2 (for 60 Hz, 80027-008 is for 50 Hz), the most common, all applications work with it, apart from new for iOS with BLE. The most convenient applications for meditation practice are BrainWave Visualizer for Windows PC, Mac, iOS and Android, EEG Meditation in versions for Android and Windows PC, and NeuroExperimenter for Windows PC. Currently it is out of stock.

80027-009 (and -010) a subversion of the 80027-023 version.

80027-023 exactly the same as 80027-007, but with the optional paid (now free) MindPlay application. The headsets themselves are identical, but because of the app, 80027-023 costs $ 30 more. The MindPlay application, depending on the values of the user's brain rhythms, controls the display of the video, each time choosing one of the alternative continuation options in several specific places of the movie.

80027-022 is the second version, or "NeuroSky MindWave Mobile +", a universal (for 60 Hz & 50 Hz) black headset with Bluetooth 4 (BLE). Older iOS apps are not supported due to BLE. Appeared in the middle of 2016. It is not currently being produced anymore.

80027-032 the third & newest version of the universal (for 60 Hz & 50 Hz) black headset, which went on sale in May 2018 "NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2", costs about $ 100 in the United States. It has enhanced microelectronics compared to + version, uses dual-mode Bluetooth (old and BLE). Changed the shape of the headset and contacts for more convenient use. Among other things, the upper, thinner arm is now springing weaker, and the neuroheadset of version "2" is practically not felt on the head. Also, the microelectronics has been changed (the control board with an internal DC-DC converter of 3.3 V has been improved), and now reliable values of the meditation parameter are issued until the battery is completely discharged.
The exact name of the version is written on the box in the lower left part of the side through which the headset is visible, not counting the new version "2", which has a new type of box. Any version of NeuroSky neuroheadsets can be successfully used for meditation practice.

11. In the NeuroSky neuroheadset, in addition to the meditation parameter, there is also the attention parameter. What is it, and how applicable is it to the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which is increasingly common in children and adults?

Answer: The algorithm of once a second calculated attention parameter values, based on the values of all brain rhythms, was developed by NeuroSky as a result of many years of research, and is not publicly available. This parameter really shows the level of attention, which allows you to use the NeuroSky neuroheadset to train the attention and perseverance of children (and adults) with ADHD, similar to how it is used to train meditation using the "meditation" parameter. The attention parameter can provide information about the current ability to hold attention through objective digital data, as well as to train attention, for example, in the EEG-attention free application for Android, available on Google Play. But it should be remembered that such training requires time, perseverance and all-round long-term efforts. If a child (or an adult) with an advanced ADHD stage, for example, plays primitive computer games like shooter games every day and night for years, because of which he is in a state of chronic mental fatigue, emotional emaciation and degradation of intellectual abilities, turning into social relations into an irresponsible creature with a dominant hit or run reflex, and, besides playing, often falls into other kinds of addictions in pursuit of a momentary illusion of satisfaction or energy against the background of regular energy collapse, there is no reason to hope that neuroheadset alone can cure ADHD. In such a situation, an integrated approach is required, with the elimination for a long time of those factors that led to the appearance of ADHD. ADHD is also the result of changes in the brain, and not just in the mind. The reverse changes will require long, focused and intense efforts, as the brain and mind change slowly, especially in a positive way. Degradation and negative changes with the waste of previously accumulated achievements are easier and faster than positive ones. A neuroheadset can undoubtedly be useful for treating the early stages of ADHD, but a neuroheadset alone cannot succeed an integrated approach is needed.

12. After 2-3 weeks of daily use of the NeuroSky neuroheadset, it often has been starting to lose a signal, not connect, or generate strange EEG data (white line in the Brainwave Visualizer application). What to do?

Answer: Any dry electrodes, even of the most expensive electroencephalograph, are contaminated by traces of fat due to contact with the skin in a few hours of use, and the quality of the contact deteriorates. To ensure the highest quality signal (like of a new neuroheadset), it is necessary to gently wipe with an alcohol pad for injections (from a pharmacy) three metal contacts of the neuroheadset the main contact on the arch resting on the forehead and two on the clip for the earlobe. It is advisable to wipe the skin every time before using the headset, the main contact on the arch resting on the forehead at least once in a few hours of using the headset, two contacts on the clip for the earlobe at least once in 10 hours of using the headset. In hot climates this needs to be done more often. It is also recommended to use alkaline batteries, rather than cheaper zinccarbon ones. If the neuroheadset connects to the Android device or computer longer than 5 seconds, clean the list of paired Bluetooth headsets on the device, leaving only the neuroheadset. Neuroheadsets MindWave Mobile (1.0), MindWave Mobile + (1.5) and MindWave Mobile 2 remember only the last 3 paired devices; when paired with a fourth, the headset forgets the first, with the fifth the second, etc. In this case , if necessary, pairing with the first device must be done again, having previously deleted it on the device.

Example with brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation during one of the sessions

DeltaThetaAlpha1Alpha2Beta1Beta2Gamma1Gamma2AttentionMeditationDerived (a1+a2)totPwr
4791416411856263101229783950910168311001.16272591
115657601411779129144442547331251141611001.04246339
40903996412072253411485948012342143111001.20231620
1390422250274734096939196165565239781001.07117642
23813073324074284188564756741811214261000.99107132
61752148992359355445689389022071483271001.20168836
505653937244071337582314231522971951271000.94176643
62882116583236103372360542793364908141001.28226217
979912472133729114329326166308256898511001.26312806
27090209329580330791393930002090184911001.13185494
1889828090126557161501902646922306104611001.04216765
55154647915862626160610433041727105111001.12248966
158714289852796053135555766977136011001.29173344
8810131071195372900395643981301111071001.01155119
70621379382663310323172408181951531001.02113680
402034299174573641351022360931974129181001.23296608
1263354775639077159693739222116152371000.86152972
11764301113121938434999365843692704141001.02132501
24933318749017858524894304315582850101001.17213854
2828643274182397450101071250612799272881001.13320267
63462924614431512689987944001781407741001.07212733
1662925048113456453692217573532960293511001.13235925
14469918812431559670784952442250143271001.26224417
108081866122467314198327632252174123131001.12278246
219040886107872509056002720292399771000.8791193

Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of relative values of brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation
Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of relative values of brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation.

Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter app for Windows with examples of statistics of absolute values of brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation
Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter app for Windows with examples of statistics of absolute values of brain rhythms for 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation.

Sample of 18 most characteristic seconds with brain rhythms from 25 seconds of continuous 100% meditation during one of the sessions

DeltaThetaAlpha1Alpha2Beta1Beta2Gamma1Gamma2AttentionMeditationDerived (a1+a2)totPwr
4791416411856263101229783950910168311001.16272591
115657601411779129144442547331251141611001.04246339
40903996412072253411485948012342143111001.20231620
61752148992359355445689389022071483271001.20168836
62882116583236103372360542793364908141001.28226217
979912472133729114329326166308256898511001.26312806
1889828090126557161501902646922306104611001.04216765
55154647915862626160610433041727105111001.12248966
158714289852796053135555766977136011001.29173344
8810131071195372900395643981301111071001.01155119
70621379382663310323172408181951531001.02113680
402034299174573641351022360931974129181001.23296608
24933318749017858524894304315582850101001.17213854
2828643274182397450101071250612799272881001.13320267
63462924614431512689987944001781407741001.07212733
1662925048113456453692217573532960293511001.13235925
14469918812431559670784952442250143271001.26224417
108081866122467314198327632252174123131001.12278246

Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of relative values of brain rhythms for 18 seconds of 100% meditation.
Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of relative values of brain rhythms for 18 seconds of 100% meditation.

Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of absolute values of brain rhythms for 18 seconds of 100% meditation.
Screenshot from the free NeuroExperimenter application for Windows with examples of statistics of absolute values of brain rhythms for 18 seconds of 100% meditation.



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

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.

Comparison of the 3 headsets for meditation: NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, Muse and Melomind.

What meditation is and how to meditate.

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile . -.