Archive for 'Dr. Tina Huang'

New study on Brainwave Entrainment (By Dr. Huang)

I’m pleased to announce the publication of “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment” in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine this month. This paper is the most comprehensive review of peer reviewed research in the subject, and was written in order to inform those within and the beyond the field of brainwave entrainment (BWE), and to provide sufficient background for future research.

Most of the research known to date has been summarized by David Siever in two unpublished manuscripts that he sells and distributes. They contain much valuable information about the history of BWE, both published and unpublished studies and proposed mechanisms of action. However, despite their length, they do not provide a complete listing of the peer reviewed literature, nor have his manuscripts faced the scientific scrutiny that comes with publishing in a peer reviewed journal. In fact, in our comprehensive search, we found articles that have never before been mentioned by those in the brainwave entrainment development and scientific community. Why? Believe it or not, the problem is in the inconsistency in terminology used to describe BWE. The term, BWE, until today, cannot be found in the scientific literature. Instead it is referred to as audiovisual stimulation, photic stimulation, photic driving, auditory entrainment, etc, etc. In all I did a search using 31 different terms to look for articles on brainwave entrainment, which returned 27,830 articles using Ovid (1 out of the 4 databases I used to do the search). Only a very small handful of these turned out to be articles on BWE. Thus much of the credit needs to go to my bosses at Transparent Corporation, who gave me the time to do this exhaustive, time consuming, and yet important work.

I looked for papers with psychological terms that described outcomes that I’d seen associated with BWE on the web, in conferences and in the published and unpublished literature. After combining the two searches, and screening for those that were indeed articles addressing psychological outcomes of BWE, and those that passed some basic scientific criteria, we ended up with just 20 articles.

The psychological effects that had been examined in relation to BWE included cognitive functioning (we divided it into verbal, non-verbal, memory, attention and overall intelligence), stress (long and short-term), pain, headache/migraines, mood, behavior and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). When two or more studies had examined similar outcomes, we placed them into tables for greater comparability. Thus we had five tables divided by cognitive functioning, stress, pain, headaches/migraines and mood. Studies used a variety of different frequency protocols and stimulation methods which are outlined in the tables.

Out of the 20 studies, 17 were actually developed to support or confirm a hypothesis, and of these, all found a positive effect in at least one outcome. And in each outcome mentioned, at least one study had a positive finding. What was remarkable was that for some outcomes, only one of several protocols had a positive effect, while others were improved by a variety of different protocols. The most consistent positive findings were found in attention (4/4 studies), pain (3/3 studies) and headache/migraines (3/3). While positive effects were found in all other outcomes examined except for mood, either fewer studies had been conducted or a smaller percentage of the protocols examined were effective. Mood was examined in the 3 studies where the effects of theta were examined on a variety of outcomes. So we believe that the ability of brainwave entrainment to positively effect mood has not been properly tested in the peer reviewed literature.

Overall, we conclude that brainwave entrainment shows real potential to positively affect psychological outcomes. However, more and bigger studies need to be done, using additional outcomes and outcomes already examined. We hope that we’ve provided the necessary background to inspire future research and collaboration, so that the field of brainwave entrainment can gain recognition and momentum in the scientific literature.

To view a copy of this article, visit:

http://www.transparentcorp.com/research/

Tina L. Huang, Ph.D.
Director of Research
Transparent Corporation

The Mind WorkStation release

A couple months ago I was browsing through some old posts on the forum and I found one from September of 2006 where I talked about an application that was going to be in beta testing in “a couple months”. How’s that for an off estimate?

After two years of research and development, Mind WorkStation was finally released on Monday. We celebrated with a pizza party.

A huge amount of work went into this. This is the seventh software product we’ve released, and by far the most ambitious and complex. All through the development, release and support of the other products I’ve been taking notes about what users want to be able to do, what research needs to be done and what problems are encountered. So, in this application we had a very large to-do list. And all throughout development we were working very closely with other researchers, developers, AVS manufacturers, EEG and biofeedback vendors.

Dr. Huang’s new research played a big part in constructing the sessions that come with it. For example, we have been able to separate sessions into verbal vs non-verbal skills improvement. A session for memory has been developed, based on some very promising studies. There are also more fascinating sessions included, such as a migraine session using alternating-eye photic stimulation at 30 Hz, or a muscle contraction headache session randomly stimulating 1-3 Hz. Another even more successful migraine session uses frequencies chosen by the user based on comfort, instead of using a set protocol!

The idea of self-chosen frequencies is very interesting, especially when dealing with a large frequency range and people who have no experience with brainwave entrainment. Some choose gamma, others choose theta, others choose delta, and so on. Yet, at least with migraines, all appeared to benefit the user tremendously.

Michael Hutchison wrote that people have a subjective feeling of “connectedness” to a frequency when they are being entrained to it successfully. Perhaps this subjective feeling has a part to play in the success of self-chosen frequencies. I’ve written many times about how different everyone’s response is to brainwave entrainment. One person may respond very well to 8 Hz but not to 10. Or to 5 Hz but not to 7. EEG research has yielded some intriguing insights into why this is.

Brainwave entrainment occurs best at one’s natural dominant frequencies. In fact, the more dominant the frequency is (the higher the amplitude), the narrower the range a person can entrain to. Someone with a very high dominant 10 Hz frequency, may not be able to entrain at all to 7 Hz.

This is where EEG-Driven stimulation becomes very useful. It is a simple thing to discover a person’s dominant frequency in any frequency band, and that data can then be transferred in real-time to Mind WorkStation to be converted into audio/visual stimuli. We worked with the fine people at Thought Technology to develop a number of EEG protocols that do this. I also developed similar protocols in BioExplorer as well, so our EEG customers can do the same. The EEG-driven sessions I’ve tried so far have been nothing short of amazing.

The response to Mind WorkStation so far has been very positive. It is already being put to use developing sessions for clinics, nursing homes, ADD kids and more. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people do with it. We purposefully designed it to be as flexible as possible, so I fully expect to see it used in ways I could never have imagined. In the end, that’s the point; to make research and development in this industry easy.

Before I get back to regular blogging, I thought I would use this space to share some cool Mind WorkStation features.

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Waveform Ramping

In Mind WorkStation waveforms can be “morphed” into each other over time. For example, you could start with an isochronic beat, and slowly morph it into a sine wave:

Here is an animation showing what happens to the sound over time:

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3D Audio Positioning

This allows you to position audio in 3D space. Take a listen to the results with a relaxation script read by Max, along with some other relaxing sounds. Listen with headphones if possible.

 3D sound sample.mp3

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Ambience Generator

The ambience feature randomly generates sound, reducing habituation by creating a different experience every time.

Random ThunderStorm.mp3

Random Forest.mp3

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Those are three neat features I like to show off, but there is a lot more to the program. Biofeedback integration, playlists, entrainment-safe audio effects, filtering methods, new stimulation techniques, and so on. Visit the below links if you’re interested in learning more:

http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/mindws

http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/mindws/overview.php

http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/mindws/features.php

Better yet, download it and try it out for yourself! http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/mindws/download.php

Regular posting will resume soon. A lot has happened in the entrainment and neuroscience world in the past few months, I just haven’t had time to write about it. :)

A year of research and development. Dr. Huang’s work, Mind WorkStation and more.

From an outside perspective, 2007 has been a quiet year. We’ve been focused so much on research and development that we’ve neglected to release any new products.

Behind the scenes, it has been our busiest year to date.

At the beginning of 2007, we were preparing for the Windows Vista launch, making sure our products were compatible. Additionally, we attended a conference where Dr. Huang (Tina) presented her findings for the first time.

Tina has been continuing to work very hard on her study, along with psychology professor Christine Charyton, PhD. We’ve had a lot of emails asking what is taking so long. Research takes a while. If you want a paper to pass peer review, get published in a reputable journal, and have a big impact, it has to be well written and based on solid science. It is a slow, laborious and expensive process.

But this study is worth it. It is packed with useful information. The effects of brainwave entrainment (BWE) on a variety of tests have been analyzed, yielding some very interesting results and answering some important questions. Which protocols affect verbal performance over non-verbal? Which protocols are best for certain types of memory – auditory, visual, sequential, and so on? Which protocols enhance immediate recall, and which reduce it? What types of headaches can be relieved using BWE? (muscle contraction, sinusitis, migraine, etc).  What protocols have the greatest effect on attention, impulsivity, distractibility, and so on? I found one instance particularly fascinating, where there was an improvement in anger control but no effect on aggressiveness!

This is vital information that will advance the effectiveness of all BWE products in the future.

It is important to note that not only were positive results analyzed, but also negative results and studies that you will never find in marketing material or even in most books on this subject. Just as it is essential to know which protocols work for a certain condition, we feel that it is perhaps more crucial to know what protocols don’t work as intended, and could act contrary to the goal of the session.

I’m happy to report that earlier this month Tina’s paper was accepted into a prestigious peer reviewed journal with a great reputation. I will give you the details of it’s publication date as soon as I can. It is up to the journal as to when it is published, and I don’t want to step on any toes by releasing too much information too soon.

Tina and I both believe this study will be a major milestone for this field. There has never been a more comprehensive review than this, and it will draw a lot of attention to this technology. Years from now you will see this study quoted in nearly every book and subsequent study on entrainment that is released.

Along with research, we’ve also been working on development. Mind WorkStation is our latest upcoming project. I admit that I expected to have it out by now, having released the beta version in the summer. What’s the hold up? There is a lot in MWS that is completely new. There are parts of it I have been working many years perfecting. I’ve also had to work very closely with others in the field to implement many of the features, such as linking up with biofeedback and EEG hardware. One of the major goals in the creation of MWS is to inspire research. Up until this, it has simply been too difficult and expensive to experiment in this field. It usually involved building a separate device or programming something from the ground up. In MWS, there’s not a whole lot you can’t do. It is built for flexibility. For what you can’t do with the built in features, we’ve implemented a plugin interface that makes it pretty easy for programmers to interact with the application, without having to worry about signal processing or connecting to the myriad of hardware devices on the market. MWS does all that for you. With the help of our beta testers, I think we’ve nailed down a pretty slick and intuitive interface as well.

We’re just finishing it up now and expect to release it in January ’08.

Finally, throughout the year I’ve been working closely with our partners and others in the industry. They are all as busy as we are, researching, developing. Some truly fantastic hardware advances are expected early next year, and we’ve helped develop some of them.

2008 will be an incredibly exciting year for this industry.

Until then, have a happy new year everyone. Cynthia and I are ringing in the new year with sushi and Karaoke!

Winter Brain conference

We spent the weekend at the FutureHealth Winterbrain conference in Palm Springs, CA, and just got back Monday evening.

While the primary reason for attending was to see Tina’s presentation, we also had a chance to view some of the speakers and talk to some of the presenters. I spent some time talking shop with Chuck Davis of the Roshi Corporation, and did a session on his new unit. It was pleasant, and we got to try out his “Mag Stims” or electro-magnetic stimulation which he places on the SMR strip. This is in addition to the LED glasses we normally use.

It is an altogether different experience, doing a BWE session in the middle of a room full of people. Yet, in a conference like this it is almost required that you attach something to your head at some point, and zone out. Within 5 minutes I felt invisible, like a fly on the wall, simply listening to the bustle of the room, relaxing. The atmosphere was almost calming, maybe because the dozens of conversations surrounding me easily replaced my own internal mental chatter. Perhaps this is why many people (including myself) find the sounds of people relaxing. In NP1 we included a number of sessions that used chatter from a crowd, a restaurant or the sounds of a city, and you can still find many of those sound files in our member’s area.

I also got a chance to try the new “Healing Rhythms” software from Wild Divine. Again, an interesting experience trying to perform biofeedback in a room full of people, but I surprised myself at how easily I was able to go through the exercises.

The night before Tina’s presentation we had some technical difficulties. My laptop’s mouse became completely unusable, and the powerpoint installation on Cynthia’s laptop suddenly started giving us problems. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. The laptop provided for speakers by FutureHealth was also on the fritz. There is something about Palm Springs that destroys computers, I’ve decided :)

Despite that, we were able to figure it out and Tina’s presentation went off without a hitch. She did a fantastic job with it. The speech was crammed with useful information – so much that I could tell there was probably a lot more she could have put into it, given a larger time frame. The study itself, when released, will be a great asset to the field and will hopefully draw a lot of interest to BWE.

After the presentation, Tina got some very positive feedback from the audience, and we were approached by a number of people asking for more information about our products. We brought a dozen NP2 trial CDs with us and ended up giving away all of them.

Here are a few pictures I was able to snap:

Tina, near the end of her presentation

Tina near the end of her presentation. You probably can’t see her well here because of the lighting (I didn’t want to be rude and use a flash), but she’s in front of the plant off on the right.

Winterbrain Exhibitor room

Winterbrain exhibitor’s room.

We had a great time, and are considering exhibiting in the future, based on the positive response we got from the presentation.

Well, I’m exhausted still from all the traveling, so that’s all I can write for now. I apologize to anyone who emailed us over the weekend and on Monday – as I said, my laptop died. I spent most of Monday evening trying to catch up. :)

Adam

From Tina: My research so far, a critical overview of the BWE field and thoughts on future developments

Happy New Year to the members of the Transparent Community!

Adam asked me to say a few words about what I’ve been doing since I’ve been hired to work with Transparent Corp, and to fill you in on our plans.

I joined Transparent Corporation primarily because I’d been touched by the effects of brain entrainment, and saw in it an enormous potential to transform the world of mental health due to its simplicity of use, ease of administration, cost and safety profile.  I was tremendously impressed by the software, its cost, and Adam and Cynthia’s commitment to make mental health solutions available to all!  Thus I came on board with the intention to work towards mainstreaming brain entrainment provided that my personal findings (and those of yours) could be confirmed with scientific research.

Luckily for me, only 2 weeks after I started, the first Brain Entrainment conference in the US was about to be held at Stanford University.  It was a wonderful starting point for me to gage where the field was and what needed to be done first.  It is important that every research project begin with a review of the literature, and my searches in the formal literature (those found in scientific journals) suggested that the few review articles that were published were very limited in their scope.  My findings were confirmed at the conference, as most researchers in the field appeared to be quite limited in their understanding of the history of brain entrainment or the work of their predecessors.  So with the help of a colleague I met at the conference, Christine Charyton, Ph.D., a visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ohio State, I decided to begin my work at Transparent Corp with a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the literature on the effects of brain entrainment on psychological outcomes.  Our aim is to publish it in a high impact journal that will catch the eye of those in the more traditional mental health fields, such a clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and neuroscience and psychology researchers.

One of the reasons why information has been so limited in the field is that the terms used to describe brain entrainment have varied widely within the literature.  In fact, the term “brain entrainment” is not used in the scientific literature.  Instead, terms such as “photic stimulation”, “auditory stimulation”, “frequency following response” have been used, and these search terms return thousands of articles that have nothing to do with brain entrainment!   To make sure we’ve found all the articles, we’ve had to search through all possible databases that can access, and examine all the references of the papers that we’ve found.  So, we’ve been busy.  We’ve found 18 articles so far that met our criteria and we are currently analyzing them to address some basic questions to satisfy the general scientific community.  Although many of the individual studies are preliminary, all of them show positive effects, and we hope that the collective effect of presenting and analyzing them simultaneously will generate some excitement among within the scientific community and beyond.

We envision and hope that this study will be a launching pad for future research for those within the field, and those we hope will be inspired to join us.   Because of the cost of research, with regards to finances, the importance of being associated with a major University or research institute (for resources), and the need for expertise within a wide variety of fields, my future goals are dependent upon opportunities to collaborate with others.  My aim is to continue to work to address questions to determine if brain entrainment is effective for specific outcomes, which I believe is the most effective way for the brain entrainment field to gain recognition of the greater scientific community.  Also, importantly, I am interested in addressing questions with regards to how to improve the effectiveness of the brain entrainment response as determined by psychological tests.  So, I hope to be able to further compare photic vs. auditory stimulation, and the various modes of auditory stimulation (binaural, monaural and isochronic) on specific outcomes. 

I will be presenting our preliminary findings at the Winter Brain conference in January, and hope to present it again at this year’s Brain Entrainment conference at Stanford as well.  We plan to submit the paper to a journal in the Spring.  We will notify you once the paper has been peer reviewed and accepted into a journal, and Adam will then post it to the member’s area.  Please note that publication of an article is highly subject to its reviewers and editors, and can take months to years.  Given it is such a new field to mainstream clinicians and scientists, it may be met with much resistance.  Please keep your fingers crossed!

My other work with Transparent Corp involves the development of ideas for new products, and their testing.  I am also working with Adam to help expand use of our software by making it more intuitive.  And importantly, we want to expand awareness of brain entrainment and our products and plan to develop workshops to address these goals. 

We will keep you updated as things unfold in 2007!

Happy New Year!

Tina L. Huang, Ph.D.