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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Brain Fitness at Home: A Review of Muse

Feb 27, 2015 12:29AM
by Nicholas Smith

Muse, a brain-sensing headband, is a fitness tool meant for the brain. It is used to measure brain signals similar to how a heart rate monitor senses a heartbeat, with seven calibrated sensors; two behind the ears, two on the forehead and three reference sensors which measure and detect brain activity.

Electroencephalography (EEG) which has been used in clinics for more than a century now, is the measurement of electric movement in the brain. Neurons found in the brain communicate by transferring tiny electric impulses toward each other. When a huge number of neurons fire at the same moment, they alter the electric field which can be measured from the outer part of the head. After neurons have fired, one can calculate the strength of particular frequencies and compare to common states of the mind.

The most popular frequency band is the alpha wave, which individuals show as they unwind and close their eyes. Delta waves fire when one is asleep. Muse identifies the balance in the frequency bands in the brain and how it varies within a period of time. These changes help to identify when the brain is wandering and when it is focused and calm.

Just like physical training, any person can perform repetitive physical exercises such as walking and running to improve strength and stamina over a period of time. Muse equals a treadmill, which assists one to exercise their brain with focused attention training. It enhances an individual’s attention by training them to be conscious of their distractions faster and react quickly in order regain focus on what they are doing.

Stress is viewed as a perceived lack of unpredictability or self-control, related to lowered immunity, impaired cognitive performance, high blood pressure as well as other negative side effects. This device strengthens an individual’s ability to regain self-control and therefore, counteracts stress. The heartbeat slows down while metabolism minimizes. The blood pressure decreases, breathing slows down and muscles relax.

The skills acquired through training are transferred to other situations in life. The internal ability for self-regulation, better attention control and increased focus are skills that impact every aspect of life. Research shows that mindfulness exercises and increased attention can trigger the brain to transform itself, hence making it less prone to distractions.

Research shows that focused attention training that lasts for 20 minutes and done for three consecutive days is bound to reduce heart rate, improve mood and minimize anxiety. Studies on longer sessions has shown other benefits like decreasing amygdala activity (connected to stress response), minimal thinning of the prefrontal cortex, increased gray matter density and increased resilience—which is an advantageous change of the brain’s function and structure.

Muse has been certified and tested according to European, U.S. and Canadian regulatory standards. The measurements used by this device are harmless to humans and only give information about an individual’s general state. The user of Muse transfers their information to their own mobile phone with a Bluetooth and have apps to incorporate the training into one’s daily routines.

Nicholas Smith is the co-founder of VonHosting

 

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