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  • Alpha waves are a particular type of brain activity where a big group of your neurons

  • all fire together, in synchrony, ten times every second, at 10-Hertz. So it is like 10

  • fires every second, this big group of neurons. How big the alpha peaks and troughs are represents

  • how many neurons are contributing to this electrical field. It was thought, in the past,

  • that alpha waves represented just kind of the idling process the brain. So, when you

  • put your car in neutral and it just starts to idle, that was thought of what an alpha

  • wave was; just kind of your visual cortex stopping processing. But it has come to be

  • found in many more brain areas that this is kind of a general inhibitory mechanism in

  • the brain. So it is not just an "off" that just happens whenever you are not doing

  • anything. But you can selectively choose which parts of your brain to inhibit with these

  • alpha oscillations. So, okay, I have a goal. I want to pay attention to all the stuff that

  • is in my lane while I am driving and other stuff in that lane or oncoming traffic. And

  • so, to do that, it is not magic. Your brain has to selectively boost some processing and

  • decrease some other processing. And that is what we think where alpha oscillations come

  • in is that they can target those different circuits selectively and any brain area can

  • express this alpha activity as a way to dampened down the activity there.

  • It has become clear you can kind of give people feedback in real-time about their alpha. So

  • you can measure their alpha and then tell them how much they have. And then say, Okay,

  • increase it." And they do not necessarily know how to increase it. But they will just

  • try something. And, if it works, you will give them feedback and slowly you can get

  • them to boost up or dampen their alpha.

  • I think that is a really exciting avenue of research. People are really trying to integrate

  • brain imaging and robotics and control arms and control movements. But for people that

  • do not have disabilities and people that do not need to control robots across the room,

  • how can brain imaging help the average person? I think that the future is going to bring

  • a kind of monitoring of our online states; besides just "Oh, I am getting tired and

  • I am yawning." You will be able to see that you are getting tired or that you are not

  • paying attention or that you are getting anxious and maybe be able to adjust these things in

  • real-time.

  • The cool they about this technology is that there are starting to be these startup companies

  • that are making more and more portable EEG systems so that you do not look like you are

  • wearing an EEG thing. It is just a simple band or on your glasses that you are wearing.

  • Also there is a group here, John Rogers' group, that makes flexible, conformable EEG

  • electrodes that you can stick and they will stay like a tattoo onto your head. So you

  • can imagine people wearing them more permanently around the sides their head. I know the U.S.

  • archery team and the marksman team already uses portable EEG systems to train people

  • to get in the right cognitive state as they are leading into their shot. And they know that

  • a certain state is the best for getting the optimal targeting. And so something like that

  • might be better, not just for archers and shooters in the Olympics, but for the average

  • truck driver, the average mum that is driving to get groceries, should maybe also have something

  • warning her when she is not paying attention. And as that field progresses and the technology

  • advances, our ability to understand people in the real world environment and how their

  • brain processes the real world will undoubtedly improve.

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B1 alpha brain eeg processing portable group

Alpha Waves and the Future of Brain Monitoring

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    Precious Annie Liao posted on 2014/05/05
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