Researchers from Baycrest and the University of Toronto have used the Muse wireless electroencephalography (EEG) headband to demonstrate that crowdsourcing brain research to hundreds of participants in a short period of time could lead to new insights about the brain.
At an arts event in Toronto, Canada, festival-goers wore the Muse headband and participated in a brief collective neurofeedback experience in groups of 20 inside a 60ft geodesic dome.
A total of 523 adults, including 209 males and 314 females, aged between 18-89, contributed their EEG brain data for the study, which required participants to play a collective neurofeedback game that manipulated their mental states of relaxation and concentration.
The neurofeedback training lasted six and a half minutes, much shorter than conventional neurofeedback training experiments, and the group’s collective EEG signals were used to control lighting and imagery inside the exhibit.
A clinical grade, smartphone-linked, EEG headband, Muse is designed to enable individuals to learn meditation, improve their attention and manage stress by providing direct, real-time insights into their brains.
The device is used by researchers and clinicians in universities and hospitals worldwide.
Muse neuroscientist Dr Graeme Moffat said: "Human brain research has always been very hard to do at large scales. It’s usually done in a lab, one person at a time.
"With Muse, we can now use proven EEG technology in a way that allows hundreds or even thousands of people to participate in brain research, both inside and outside the lab."
The EEG data collected indicated that subtle brain activity changes were taking place within approximately one minute of starting the neurofeedback learning exercise, which is claimed to be an unprecedented speed of neural learning, adaptation and control that has not been demonstrated earlier.
Baycrest vice-president and Rotman Research Institute director Dr Randy McIntosh said: "These results really open up a whole new domain of neuroscience study that actively engages the public to advance our understanding of the brain."
The experiment was housed in a large-scale art / science installation, called My Virtual Dream. The findings from ‘My Virtual Dream: Collective Neurofeedback in an Immersive Art Environment,’ were published online in the journal PLOS ONE.
Image: Muse headband helps individuals to learn meditation, improve their attention and manage stress by providing direct, real-time insights into their brains. Photo: courtesy of Presswire.