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EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset

EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
1/21/15 8:16 PM
Hi all - recently I got the Interaxon Muse headset which measures EEG output, some other stuff and combines it into a score for 'calm'.  Thought it would be a fun and new way to interact with meditation and perhaps even hone my technique a little.

I've had one for three days now and seem to be at odds with it.  Right now I am trying to understand why it is telling me that my meditation is spent with about 90% of the time being "active" with very little time spent "calm" (less than 2 mins in one session apparently).

I mean, I've been meditating every day since mid 2007, I've done long retreats.  I don't consider myself the most enlightened guy on this website by any means, but my practice has definitely been at a point for a long time where it consistently gives me a sense of freedom and calm whenever I sit down to do it.

Yet when I sit down with this device and follow the instructions (count your breaths on every out breath up to 10) I'm sitting there after a few minutes feeling lovely and relaxed yet the device is generating feedback in the form of strong wind sounds (indicating I am not present or calm supposedly).  I wonder how accurate this technology is.  I think back to teachers I have had from the mahasi, zen and other traditions.  The sense I got from their teachings is that the TYPE of content is not what sets you free, but your RELATIONSHIP to it.  So I wonder if the form of measurement these devices are set to look for e.g. alpha or theta waves etc isn't really an accurate measure of how calm or present you are?  To put it another way, two people could be having the same thought - an external threat like an assignment due tomorrow.  But surely it is not the presence of thought itself (i.e. in beta waves) that measures calm?

Any input or experiences other people have with the muse, I'd be very interested to hear.

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
1/21/15 8:28 PM as a reply to Ben Turale.
Can you set it to measure gamma waves?  I bet you'll see a difference.  It's a common misconception that calm abiding meditation creates lower frequency brainwaves.  That's a better measure of whether you're falling asleep.  Gamma waves spike in concentration meditation (according to the studies I've read about it).

EDIT: I looked on the website and it said it measures how much your brainwaves fluctuate, so IDK. Hard to say if there's real science behind this, TBH...

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
1/21/15 8:12 PM as a reply to Ben Turale.
I got a Muse headset for Christmas this year and I have had the same experience as you.  Although I feel very "calm" the readings are at the top of the active chart.   You can't see the raw EEG data using the "Calm" app, but you can download the SDK that supposedly allows you to read the raw data.  I downloaded the SDK, but I cannot figure out how to use it (yet).  I love the idea of the device, but the "Calm" app isn't useful at this point. I am hoping that someone develops a different application for the device like a game or something.

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
8/28/15 4:19 PM as a reply to Ben Turale.
Ben, 

I know how you feel, as I had a similar experience. I had the highest "calm" scores when I turned off the sound and turned over my phone so I couldn't see the screen. Then, doing simple zazen with eyes open, fixing the gaze at a point on the floor and counting my breaths resulted in "calm" scores in the high 90's.

I then went on to install the Muse SDK on my computer, started writing some programs to display and analyze the recordings and did some simple experiments with various meditative and non-meditative conditions. I report the results so far at,

http://still-breathing.net

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

David

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
9/9/15 5:01 PM as a reply to David Daiku Trowbridge.
David - I did just get the chance to borrow someone's Muse headband.  Like you, I found that my results varied.

I was just looking at the muse app and the three categories of active/neutral/calm that it describes.  With Mahasi style noting, and a wide focus, I tended to bounce up and down quickly between all three categories.  a rapid oscillation.

When I backed off and took a more breath focused, relaxed approach, I would sometimes get high "calm" scores and "birds".  I would sort of gravitate into the 'calm' range and just stay there, without going into the other two ranges, getting a fair number of the birds. 

However, in other meditation sessions, with the same focused, relaxed technique, I would be going along steadily in either the 'neutral' or 'active' categories.  In one session, I was focused on the breath but was almost entirely 'active' without any variation and only 3% 'calm'.  But I felt pretty calm, subjectively.

Over several sessions, the profile of my brain activity seemed to clearly reflect my meditative technique/breadth of attention, but the zone (calm/neutral/active) seemed to vary just by happenstance. 

If I had to speculate, I would say that the calm/neutral/active zones might correllate to stages of insight.  In one 7 minute session, I had a pretty clear transition from being entirely 'calm' to entirely 'neutral'.  When I was solely in the 'active' state in another session, I had been doing some close mindfulness already that day.

Maybe in 10 years meditation science will be farther along?  It seems like we have an good piece of hardware but I am not confident that the company's focus on the 'calm' score is really the way to go.  Is that your overall take?

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
3/21/16 4:59 AM as a reply to Ben Turale.
Hi All,

I thought about buying the muse, but from your comments so far i could read that it didnt really help u with meditation praxis !?  I saw on the muse website that there is an update for the App with more meditation exercises... did anyone tried it?

What im really looking for would be an app that gives me a peep signal as soon im loosing the meditation object and drifting into thinking, is there any such feature with the mose?

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
3/23/16 5:59 PM as a reply to Ben Turale.
I just tried the muse daily for 2 weeks with mixed results:

- Despite my meditation experience I got results between 1%-40% calmness.
- In some sessions, I experienced a correlation between the feedback and subjective experienced depth, sometimes not. When I did, I experienced the auditive feedback extremely helpful. Variations during the calibration phase didn't seem to have an effect.
- 2 friends tried it as well and got results of 18-40% calmness, also without much of an experience of a correlation between focus on the breath and the audio feedback.
- The results with the option "counting breaths" seem to be a little bit better than with the focus on the sensations - I assume that this option is a little less 'sensitive' as the counting is a thought content(?)
- another friend tried 3min of counting with a result of 80% calmness. She doesn't have much meditation experience and said that this mindstate didn't feel very attractive, being rather dull.
- Science seems to be ambivalent about it as well: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-myths/201302/read-paying-100s-neurofeedback-therapy-0

I just asked muse support about this and will post their answer.

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
5/5/16 5:04 AM as a reply to Malte.
Interesting to read about your experiences with the Muse. I am using it since about two weeks, and I am still trying to figure out how it works. Interaxon people are not very forthcoming about what is actually measured and what experiences people make. I just started a facebook group called Muse headband user forum, in order to provide an opportunity to continually exchange experiences among users. And maybe figure out more about what the Muse measures. If you are interested, please consider joining. 

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
5/11/16 1:26 PM as a reply to Ben Turale.
So, the Interaxon team took a while to reply without really answering my questions. I wrote a second email, below is their reply, which again is not really satisfying. The question why they don't simply advertise with quotes from longterm practioners who say it's working was not answered.
I'd be really happy to hear from someone with jhanic or solid access concentrations skills to see whether the device can measure concentration in meditation...

==

"closed both during the calibration and during the session. This has the
biggest impact on accuracy since the app can interpret eye movement and
visual processing as an active mind which will affect the results.

We also have a feature we call the historical model. This looks at 10
past sessions to get more data, if a person has shared their account, or
was experimenting with Muse rather than doing sessions in earnest -
this can cause unexpected results that get locked into the model. If you
suspect there is an issue with the historical model, we can turn off
this feature, and turn it back on at a later date.

There are many different types of meditation, Muse is specifically attempting to measure calm focused attention.

Muse detects a full range of brainwave activity. Brainwaves are
typically broken up into five bands and the Muse headband is capable of
detecting all five bands. The five bands are:

· Delta waves which are most present during sleep.

· Theta waves which are associated with sleep, very deep relaxation, and visualization.

· Alpha waves which occur when relaxed and calm.

· Beta waves which occur when, for example, actively thinking or problem-solving.

· Gamma waves which occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information.

In creating the Muse app, we started from these brainwaves and then
spent years doing intensive research on higher-order combinations of
primary, secondary and tertiary characteristics of raw EEG data and how
they interact with focused-attention meditation.

The specific algorithms and signal processing methods we've developed
for use in Muse are proprietary and under evaluation with a number of
neuroscience and psychology research labs around the world. We will
share clinical and scientific results as they become available."

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
5/15/16 2:15 AM as a reply to Malte.
Malte, it seems Interaxon has a standard mail they send out to inquiries such as yours. I got an answer to my questions with exactly the same formulations as you pasted, which did not respond to my questions. This does not increase the trust in the device ... 

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
12/23/17 9:45 AM as a reply to Thomas Jordan.
HI folks, 

Is anybody interested in resuscitating this thread? I got hold of one of these things used and have been playing around and looking into it a bit further. Couple of things: 

 - Some of the comments above refer to Muse's own app (which is actually called Calm or something) but you can use the headband with other software as a general purpose neurofeedback device. This may be more worth looking at b/c as far as I can see, the app is really not designed for people who can already do jhanas, etc.  Their algorithm will probably just be confused by that.  So far, for me personally the app is useful for maybe access concentration but beyond that I'm really not sure. 

 - A further issue is that the Muse app works by establishign a baseline through a 30 sec calibration phase and then noting deviation from baseline. Supposedly, the difficulty is that regular meditators will get into quite a calm focused state just by closing their eyes and sitting during calibration. So the baseline will in one sense be "off".  Muse users who know a bit about meditation apparently get around this by gaming the calibration in various ways so that they get useful feedback. Interaxon have supposedly made changes to the calibration algorithm due to complaints like those above but I suggest that this is never going to be a satisfactory approach for serious meditators. 

 - There are apparently a few serious meditators using the device with non-Interaxon software, including David above. Anybody else out there? I'd be interested in comparing notes on software, useful feedback, etc. 

RE: EEG with the Interaxon Muse headset
Answer
6/1/19 8:11 AM as a reply to Paul Anthony.
Hi all,

thank you for sharing your opinions and experience. It has been some time since you have experimented with the neurofeedback meditation with Muse.

How would you evaluate the benefit of using such device in general?

I am asking because I am considering to use neurofeedback to improve my training. The Muse 2 is out, and there are also other options which seem to be targeted at researchers, so there is a chance they actually might be better (e.g. Epoc+ from Emotive)

Do let me know if somebody would like to investigate the benefits of use of these devices more in depth

Jan