Sophie Janicke

United States

Neurofeedback device "Muse" to support meditation

“Transformative technologies” is a broad term to describe any form of technology that can somehow enrich our lives. Among those certainly fall all forms of fitness trackers and devices, including the FitBit or smart watches. But the specific transformative technologies I am interested in are those that specifically enhance our mental well-being (which of course goes along with our physical well-being) and potentially provide us access towards a deeper inner knowing or consciousness. One of the current technologies in this subfield of transformative technologies are those that support a mindfulness or meditation practice (click here for a list of useful meditation apps).

Being fascinated by all sorts of human interaction technologies that are developed at the speed of light –even though I am far away from being an innovator that always has the newest gadgets—I knew about the meditation supporting headset “Muse” before going to the Wisdom 2.0 conference, but never had the chance to test it out.
At last, at the conference, I was able to do so and now I am torn between investing the $299 for the meditation headset that also goes a long with a couple of other neurofeedback apps, such as the neuromore, or mindsong, for example, or wait a little bit more until the technology is even further developed.

The “Muse” is a neuro-feedback device that is non-invasive, meaning nothing is put into your body. You just put it on like a headset, or better yet, like a fancy sweat band (like they used to wear in the 70’s) on your forehead, and it measures your brain waves (EEG) from your pre-frontal and parietal cortex, an area we know from neuroscience research has decreased activation (reduced activation of the Default Mode Network) after meditation. It comes with an app which gives you feedback in real-time about how activated and all over your mind is, or how much you can focus your attention on one thing. It does this by feeding you back nature sounds such as rainfalls, winds in the forest, or ocean waves. The calmer you mind is the calmer the sound.
I chose the beach and ocean sound and boy was my mind in big wave mode. However, after a while of just focusing on my breath, I heard just the calm ripple of small waves smoothly coming on shore. However, I did not make it to the point where I heard birds chirping, which is the ultimate “reward” the app provides once you have been able to sustain your attention without interruption for a longer period of time.

An article in the Wall Street Journal about the Muse provides a little bit more detail about it’s potential as well as its’ fallbacks. Scientific studies are still underway to validate the measurement accuracy of the device, but it seems to measure at least something that is associated with at least something close to a meditative state (that is, a focused attention one).

Check out more about other transformative technologies in my blog post here: http://rewirehappiness.com/node/23


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