Sunday, July 26, 2009


What is interesting about this blog is that it is an easy introduction to Neuro-feedback where you can get a quick idea if this might be worthwhile exploring. As this blog progresses I plan on switching over from commentary to an explanatory phase on how to do this yourself. At the outset of this blog I had put up a 'manifesto':
EEG Manifesto
1: Life is about creativity, happiness, and being in the zone.
2: There are mental states that enhance #1.
3: It is possible to train for these states --i.e. select your own brain waves.

So now I think its time to do an assessment based on my own experiences. I have not achieved what I set out to do yet. I think the 'EEG Manifesto' is self evident for the first & second items. For the third item, a full success would be being able to switch states without the use of an EEG. My efforts so far allow me to switch states when hooked up to an EEG, but it is not under volitional control without the use of feedback (i.e. an EEG). It is also a fairly slow process, where it can take ten or twenty minutes to make the switch, and sometimes fail. All is not lost however. I have noticed that if I happen to fall into a particularly good state, I can recognize it, and preserve it longer than I would have been able to without the training.

One of the great questions in psychology is whether we are capable of evaluating ourselves, and by caveat, changes to ourselves. I do not have the answer to this, but I do believe we can perform 'soft-science' on ourselves. Soft science says that we cannot perform measurements outside a context, but that within a context we can do comparative evaluations. This would allow us to use comparative metrics, where the absolute scale is unknown, as we cannot know what the absolute maxima or minima may be, but we can measure changes compared to the last state. The other question is what metrics do we use, and to this there is a rather simple answer, and that is: 'use metrics that matter'. What are the metrics that matter? Those are the ones we have decided it is important to either limit, or to enhance. What we to choose to measure is an evolutionary process, as experience & experimentation will enable us to make better choices. All of this is to simply say, track what you do, and then compare what you are currently doing to what you have done before, and decide whether the current efforts outcomes are better or worse. It is a process that can give continuous improvement, or recognize when we are moving in the wrong direction.

So I am not claiming to do 'hard science' with absolute numbers that can be verified by others. The hard numbers would be the EEG brain wave measurements for frequency & duration. But these are only reflection of what is most important, and that is how do I feel when I am in these states, how does it increase my happiness, my being in the zone. And even more importantly how often can I get back to this state without the EEG, and when in the desired state, how long can I preserve it. This is why I think that the 'soft science' part of this is more interesting than the 'hard science' of measuring the brain waves. The hard science is great because it has given us the machines that allow us to do the training for the metrics that matter, which fall under soft science.

Back to assessment. Although my EEG machine is currently non-functional, I find I am in the state that I wish to be in more often than before. So in this sense, I am 'happier'. I do not have the volitional control for changing states that I would like to have, and it is obvious that it will take more than the few months I have worked with the EEG so far to achieve volitional control. I am pleased enough with the outcome of my current training that I want to continue training, and that is perhaps the most telling metric. The main risk is that with the change being slow, comparative techniques become more difficult, since if the change is slow enough, the belief will be that the current state was the control state all along.

The Neurosky people have sent me an email indicating their units have finished certification, and that they will be sending them out soon. If the Neurosky works well, this will give an EEG that is generally affordable to the public at less than two hundred. I will do a review as soon as I recieve the unit.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is pretty interesting stuff--I like your honest assessment and am glad you're going to continue the training. I'll look forward to hearing how it goes. Good luck!