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Neuroscience 2.0: Taking the lab to the people by gathering collective EEG brain data

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Wear­able for the mind’ launch­es new era of brain research (Elec­tron­ic Prod­ucts & Tech­nol­o­gy):

Neu­ro­sci­en­tists in Toron­to have shown that crowd­sourc­ing brain research to hun­dreds of par­tic­i­pants in a short peri­od of time could be a new fron­tier in neu­ro­science and lead to new insights about the brain

Dr. Natasha Kovace­vic of Bay­crest Health Sci­ences’ Rot­man Research Insti­tute is the lead author of a sci­en­tif­ic paper on the crowd­sourc­ing experiment…Festival-goers wore the Muse head­band and par­tic­i­pat­ed in a brief col­lec­tive neu­ro­feed­back expe­ri­ence in groups of 20 inside a 60-foot geo­des­ic dome. A total of 523 adults (209 males, 314 females), rang­ing in age from 18 to 89, con­tributed their EEG brain data for the study. The par­tic­i­pants played a col­lec­tive neu­ro­feed­back game where they were required to manip­u­late their men­tal states of relax­ation and con­cen­tra­tion. The neu­ro­feed­back train­ing last­ed 6.5 min­utes, which is much short­er than typ­i­cal neu­ro­feed­back train­ing exper­i­ments. The group’s col­lec­tive EEG sig­nals were used to con­trol light­ing and imagery inside the exhib­it.

What we’ve done is tak­en the lab to the pub­lic,” said Dr. Kovace­vic. “We col­lab­o­rat­ed with mul­ti-media artists, made this exper­i­ment incred­i­bly engag­ing, attract­ed high­ly moti­vat­ed sub­jects which is not easy to do in the tra­di­tion­al lab set­ting, and col­lect­ed use­ful sci­en­tif­ic data from their expe­ri­ence.”

Study: My Vir­tu­al Dream: Col­lec­tive Neu­ro­feed­back in an Immer­sive Art Envi­ron­ment (PLOS ONE)

  • Abstract: While human brains are spe­cial­ized for com­plex and vari­able real world tasks, most neu­ro­science stud­ies reduce envi­ron­men­tal com­plex­i­ty, which lim­its the range of behav­iours that can be explored. Moti­vat­ed to over­come this lim­i­ta­tion, we con­duct­ed a large-scale exper­i­ment with elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG) based brain-com­put­er inter­face (BCI) tech­nol­o­gy as part of an immer­sive mul­ti-media sci­ence-art instal­la­tion. Data from 523 par­tic­i­pants were col­lect­ed in a sin­gle night. The explorato­ry exper­i­ment was designed as a col­lec­tive com­put­er game where play­ers manip­u­lat­ed men­tal states of relax­ation and con­cen­tra­tion with neu­ro­feed­back tar­get­ing mod­u­la­tion of rel­a­tive spec­tral pow­er in alpha and beta fre­quen­cy ranges. Besides val­i­dat­ing robust time-of-night effects, gen­der dif­fer­ences and dis­tinct spec­tral pow­er pat­terns for the two men­tal states, our results also show dif­fer­ences in neu­ro­feed­back learn­ing out­come. The unusu­al­ly large sam­ple size allowed us to detect unprece­dent­ed speed of learn­ing changes in the pow­er spec­trum (~ 1 min). More­over, we found that par­tic­i­pants’ base­line brain activ­i­ty pre­dict­ed sub­se­quent neu­ro­feed­back beta train­ing, indi­cat­ing state-depen­dent learn­ing. Besides reveal­ing these train­ing effects, which are rel­e­vant for BCI appli­ca­tions, our results val­i­date a nov­el plat­form engag­ing art and sci­ence and fos­ter­ing the under­stand­ing of brains under nat­ur­al con­di­tions.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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