Archive for 'Software'

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.

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

Ambience Generator

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

Random ThunderStorm.mp3

Random Forest.mp3

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. :)

Analyzing binaural beat CDs, and a tip for BAVSA users

Every few weeks I get a call from a user who wants to import a brainwave entrainment CD or MP3 they bought elsewhere into our program in order to change what frequencies are being used and at what times.

If only it were that easy. Once a composition has been exported from a brainwave protocol into a sound format, it becomes very challenging to reverse engineer that and determine what frequencies are being used.

It becomes even more difficult when you realize that there are many different forms of auditory brainwave entrainment – binaural beats, monaural beats, isochronic tones, audio modulation, filtering and so on. Most commercial products also “mask” the entrainment in some way, usually with nature sounds such as rain, or with music.

Simply determining what brainwave frequencies are used in a recording is hard enough, much less changing or altering those frequencies in some way.

However, some users in our community forum have found a way to do this, at least with recordings that use binaural beats. First, they use a tool called BAVSA to determine what binaural beat frequencies are being used. Then, they use audio filters (band pass) to remove the binaural beats. Later, they re-insert binaural beats of their choice, using our software.

BAVSA, which stands for “binaural beat visual analysis tool”, is a program specifically designed for analyzing binaural beat frequencies. It is the creation of Jim Peters, who also created SBaGen, which I mentioned in a recent article in the AVS Journal.

You can find BAVSA here: http://uazu.net/bavsa/

BAVSA is a remarkably accurate program, but can sometimes take some fiddling with to get a clear result. This is understandable, given the complexity of many binaural beat CDs, especially those with music.

Back in June, another user and I analyzed a recording with a single binaural beat that ramped from 10 hz to 2 hz. As the beat and pitch decreased, we noticed something strange: 10 hz remained through the entire recording, and other “phantom” beats showed up in the analysis as a result.

After some experimentation, we discovered that if a binaural beat is present at a high enough volume in the first 3 seconds of the recording, BAVSA’s analysis of the rest of the track will always contain the first 3 seconds of sound.

To show you what I mean, I created a binaural beat that lasts for 5 seconds and then a minute of complete silence after that. You can use any binaural beat program to create this yourself, such as our software, cooledit or SBaGen (all will produce the same result in BAVSA).

Analyzing this in BAVSA, I skip ahead to 48 seconds. It should register silence, but instead it still shows the original binaural beat:

The Solution: To work around this problem, I insert 3-4 seconds of silence at the beginning of any sound file before analysis. We applied this fix to the 10hz/2hz sound file I mentioned above, and BAVSA accurately reported the binaural beat at the exact same time mark, without showing 10 hz or the other non-existent frequencies:

In most cases, this workaround isn’t strictly necessary, since binaural beat CDs typically don’t have tones at a high enough volume for this to matter, and many CDs fade in over 10-20 seconds, effectively eliminating the potential for a problem. This may also explain why this hasn’t been noticed before.

Still, if you want to be absolutely sure of an accurate measurement, try the above tip.

Audio-Visual Stimulation (AVS) Journal 2007

A new AVS Journal was released over the weekend and as usual it is an interesting and useful read.

For this edition I was invited to write about computer-based brainwave entrainment technology since I’m pretty well versed in that area. Computerized AVS is relatively new compared to the rest of the industry and many people are wondering what advantages (or disadvantages) it presents.

The article builds what I think is a good case for computerized AVS, and also gives detailed tips and recommendations on how to get the most out of it.

At the end there is a brief history of brainwave entrainment software.

You can find me on page 19: 

http://www.mindmachines.com/FreeJournals/AVSJ%20Fall%202007.pdf

Blogging, and new upcoming software

Mind WorkStation in action!If you haven’t noticed, blog posts have been a bit sparse lately. That is because I have been working fervently to get our latest application, “Mind WorkStation”, into beta testing. The last month has been very busy doing that. And, I expect the next few months will be busy fixing bugs, adding new features, incorporating user feedback, etc. But, I will try to keep up on the blog as often as possible.

Mind WorkStation is turning out better than I could have hoped. I’ve been working on it for nearly 2 years now. Even while Mind Stereo was being developed I was simultaneously developing this application. Needless to say, it is by far the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken, and I’m really proud of the results.

If you are current customer and are interested in participating in the beta testing process, sign up here: http://www.transparentcorp.com/betatesting/signup.php