NuCalm Latest Fad, Tool or “short-cut”?

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find a safe/stable/reliable/portable/cheap EEG device that I can link to my own app - otherwise complete feedback and control of the entrainment signal would be in the next release


why not build one?



changing the arduino for an ESP8266 for wifi/portability

whole thing would cost less than the pack of electrodes and have medical accuracy
 
why not build one?



changing the arduino for an ESP8266 for wifi/portability

whole thing would cost less than the pack of electrodes and have medical accuracy

Looks cool!

If I were only building it for myself then there would be no problem at all. A few years ago I played with a reasonably cheap Chinese EEG I got from Ebay and was able to rig up a simple control system that locked onto the dominant brainwave frequency and then incrementally shifted the entrainment frequency towards the target frequency.

It worked very well - quickly migrating the dominant brainwave frequency to the target frequency as fast as the dominant frequency was able to shift, and was not that difficult to implement.

But my app is now technically a commercial product, and I'm based in the US: If I build an EEG device to sell with it, then both the app and the EEG would be subject to medical regulations and CRUSHING licensing costs unless the EEG was completely non-commercial or sold as a diy kit!

As a hobby it would be interesting, but I do not have time for hobby work at the moment. Maybe once I am cash positive!
 

Transient

The Force is Strong With This One
At this point i’m ”neck deep in the weeds”. Looking into the prior mentioned suggestions, reading the neuro-opti thread (long one) and primarily, finishing (re-reading) Healing developmental trauma...
Thanks all for the info, insights, and suggestions, will continue the journey.
 

Transient

The Force is Strong With This One
woneill1701
If you have any interest in sharing info about your app I’d be interested, if not I understand.
I was simply trying to help support a forum member and educate myself using a “known” variable.
Thanks.
 
To summarize my app:

It is designed for power users to create and use Induction Sessions. An Induction session is a timed entrainment session that typically has a beginning “Induction“ stage which actually entrains the user to normal waking consciousness, and then rapidly shifts them to the desired target state, a “Hold” stage which just holds the user at the target frequency for the desired period, and a final “Restore” stage that brings the user back to an energized Beta.

It has Wizards that allow users to tune specific sessions (Energize, Meditate, Sleep, Flow State, De-Stress, etc.) to their specific needs, and a free-form Construction kit to build arbitrarily complex sessions.

On the App Store, I claim that it is the most powerful entrainment technology there - and I believe it is. But, it can get complex as a result - hence the inclusion of the Wizards.

It supports Binaural, Monaural, and Isochronic entrainment technology - and so works right down from deep Delta up to Gamma. (Binaural has limited entrainment ability at frequencies > ~20Hz; Isochronic Tones have almost negligible entrainment capabilities below ~ 5Hz...)

Note: My app only works on Apple technology - Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads. But if you have a resonably current Apple device, it is the same Universal app on every device - with the same UI & capabilities.

So, with that said, what is your experience with Brainwave Entrainment/Brainwaves, and what would you want to get from it?

Do you know about the different brainwave frequencies and the properties of the associated brain-states?

Are you familiar with Binaural Beats?

Have you ever used this technology before?

It is a truly fascinating technology to explore!
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A high-level comparison of some of the technologies - Nuclam, NueroOptimal, Muse, and others.


The challenge is always in the unknown effects of these technologies. I prefer to go with what C's said.

I have a NeurOptimal system, and to me it was worth it. NuCalm and Muse seem like static forms of neurofeedback, which has some drawbacks such as potential overtraining. Muse is cheap enough I would experiment with it if it wasn’t Bluetooth-driven (it’s an egregious blind spot on the part of the system’s developers).

A lot of emphasis is placed on alpha brain states, but your mind has all the different brainwaves going at different amplitudes. Observing myself for over a year with NeurOptimal my brain has a predominant alpha and theta state when it is stressed and overtired or dissociative; gamma is also low in this state. When I am feeling normal and productive and creative my mind has high gamma and beta and sometimes sensorimotor rhythm. So there’s more to the “sales pitch” story given that “alpha good, beta bad” that some brain entrainment proponents claim.

As for “Forty Years of Zen,” based on the diversity of states I’ve seen over time I wouldn’t be confident with someone taking a five minute snapshot of my brain at one particular time, generalizing it to that being “how I am,” and developing protocols training me against a suspect baseline. I’m not a neurologist so fwiw.

I remember Ark was interested in some types of older neurofeedback systems which have since gone out of business, and the C’s said that was because they were on to something. As the market seems to be now the cheapest mass market option microwaves your brain, while ones that are high quality effective are prohibitively expensive. So it goes.
 
I have a NeurOptimal system, and to me it was worth it. NuCalm and Muse seem like static forms of neurofeedback, which has some drawbacks such as potential overtraining. Muse is cheap enough I would experiment with it if it wasn’t Bluetooth-driven (it’s an egregious blind spot on the part of the system’s developers).

A lot of emphasis is placed on alpha brain states, but your mind has all the different brainwaves going at different amplitudes. Observing myself for over a year with NeurOptimal my brain has a predominant alpha and theta state when it is stressed and overtired or dissociative; gamma is also low in this state. When I am feeling normal and productive and creative my mind has high gamma and beta and sometimes sensorimotor rhythm. So there’s more to the “sales pitch” story given that “alpha good, beta bad” that some brain entrainment proponents claim.

As for “Forty Years of Zen,” based on the diversity of states I’ve seen over time I wouldn’t be confident with someone taking a five minute snapshot of my brain at one particular time, generalizing it to that being “how I am,” and developing protocols training me against a suspect baseline. I’m not a neurologist so fwiw.

I remember Ark was interested in some types of older neurofeedback systems which have since gone out of business, and the C’s said that was because they were on to something. As the market seems to be now the cheapest mass market option microwaves your brain, while ones that are high quality effective are prohibitively expensive. So it goes.
In any brain state there are always multiple frequencies involved - and some synergize while others compete.

Beta ia not necessarily bad unless you have too much Beta activity and are trying to relax at the end of a long day - at which point it can block the brain naturally switching to a more Alpha-dominated "chill" state. Similarly with insomnia at night: too much Beta blocking the transition through Alpha, through Theta to Delta.

But, Beta dominance is fantastic if you need real-time awareness and/or problem solving! The only one better is if you can supplement the Beta with some synergistic Gamma activity - which in me seems to supplement the real-time abilities of Beta with the holistic associativity and oob thinking of Theta... (I've never experienced any of the more "out there" effects sometimes associated with Gamma.)

If I need to understand something really complex, I lock onto a mid Beta frequency, and can really get into it for up to an hour!

Alpha dominance is great if you want to learn something understandable - say a physical/mental skill - or if you want to get in "The Zone" while practicing/performing a complex action... It is also the naturally dominant state while watching TV/a movie or listening to an audio-book.

If I want to absorb large amounts of easily understood information I lock on to a high Alpha state and can soak up the information like a sponge for hours.

But if you are stuck in Alpha dominance when you need to engage in the "here and now" it can leave you sluggish with poor concentration/awareness.

Theta is my favorite state - both subjectively, and in terms of the creativity it brings. But I often struggle to stop drifting into it, by default, the instant that the real world slows down, and as such I use a lot of short Beta induction sessions in lieu of the usual Espresso shots I used to rely on...

Muse is interesting, but too expensive for me to play with just for fun. The apps are not well written, and the API is not open - or else I would have already connected my own app to it.

The NuCalm does not measure your brain state - it just uses entrainment combined with a magic charged coil that does "physics"...

What would be interesting, would be to use the NeurOptimal sensors to measure the effects of Binaural entrainment!

You could do some very powerful things there, even if the two systems were not linked!
 

Transient

The Force is Strong With This One
what is your experience with Brainwave Entrainment/Brainwaves, and what would you want to get from it?
No experience with brainwave entrainment, understand the fundamental physics governing brainwaves and their related states. Alpha, theta... Grew up in an environment surrounded by electronic test equipment, and continue to use to a lesser degree today.
My simple use of these (related?) principles is the use of music to help alter my mood, very effective for me.
I used to meditate, seems much harder to still the mind now. Hope B-ent.. will help facilitate the meditative process.
Also I work ‘swing shifts’ trying to find a solution to very little sleep, 5 nights of work generally equals ~ 15 to 20 hours of sleep. Becoming a problem for me as I get older...
Are you familiar with Binaural Beats?

Have you ever used this technology before?
No, I’m learning as we speak.
Been curious for some time but it seems it’s most vocal proponents are you tubers and some of their claims are downright ridiculous if not criminal.
That has so far kept me from investigating further.
Thank you for your input.
 
No experience with brainwave entrainment, understand the fundamental physics governing brainwaves and their related states. Alpha, theta... Grew up in an environment surrounded by electronic test equipment, and continue to use to a lesser degree today.
My simple use of these (related?) principles is the use of music to help alter my mood, very effective for me.
I used to meditate, seems much harder to still the mind now. Hope B-ent.. will help facilitate the meditative process.
Also I work ‘swing shifts’ trying to find a solution to very little sleep, 5 nights of work generally equals ~ 15 to 20 hours of sleep. Becoming a problem for me as I get older...

No, I’m learning as we speak.
Been curious for some time but it seems it’s most vocal proponents are you tubers and some of their claims are downright ridiculous if not criminal.
That has so far kept me from investigating further.
Thank you for your input.
There is a lot of fluff and nonsense spouted about Brainwaves, but there is also a lot of hard science, and the science that is real is also quite profound!

Brainwaves were first measured in humans about 100 years ago with the invention of the EEG. They are real and result from the way neurons “fire”, and subsequently need to “re-charge”.

Groups of neurons working together tend to synchronize their firings, as do groups of neurons in close physical proximity.

The result is globally measurable waves of electrical activity in the brain.

There can be competing centers of brainwave activity in the brain as the brain multi-tasks.

Meditation is largely the practice of learning to “nip in the bud” the random, sporadic, and often worthless musings of the conscious mind as it processes superficial concepts.

Each of these random musings sets up a localized region of Beta activity.

Beta activity in itself is not undesirable, and is absolutely desirable when you need to be here, now. It is the type of activity associated with regular consciousness.

The key is to focus it rather than waste bandwidth on random musings...

So, in this respect, meditation is not directly related to brainwave activity - but instead learning the discipline to stop being a scatterbrain, and improve the effectiveness of brain activity - whatever that activity is!

Now, when you don’t need to be “here and now”, and you can silence the musings, the brain naturally slows down - Beta is a high energy state, meaning that it takes a lot of energy to sustain it!

Actually, in most people, the brain naturally slows down briefly for a “breather” every couple of minutes - but folks don’t notice this happening.

At a lower energy than Beta is the Alpha level - where the dominant waves are in the slower Alpha range.

Alpha tends to dominate when you are chilling out, watching tv, a movie, or listening to a story.

You are awake, but not really “here and now”. This is actually an “altered state” of consciousness. One of many.

It typically involves feeling relaxed, comfortable, and slightly detached from physical stimuli as your awareness shifts from what you see/hear to the subject of the story...

Alpha is also associated with mild hypnosis...

It is also the state your mind shifts-to when you are “in the zone” and your mind/body become one.

Active meditation generally triggers Alpha states as you focus on the activity without the distraction of random conscious musings. (Most active meditation requires concentration on the activity that is strong enough to override the natural tendency of the conscious mind to rand muse...)

This form of meditation is great for beginners who struggle to still the conscious mind and suppress the musings...

Now, entrainment can impose an Alpha state, if desired, to some extent, but it is only marginally effective at suppressing the musings. This still requires practice and discipline!

Below Alpha is Theta. Theta is a very low energy state - typically associated with daydreaming and vegging out.

Daydreaming is actually the similar to dreaming except you are awake and have some awareness of your environment and control of your muscles (in dreaming a part of the brain effectively cuts off any commands your brain sends to your limbs...)

The theta state is very interesting, and while it is the subject of a lot of whacked out metaphysical claims, does have many medical positives!

In Theta, you are typically physically inactive, and get many of the benefits of sleep in that your brain re-balances a lot of the built-up metabolites resulting from conscious activity. Theta automatically eliminates stress and anxiety (which are associated with too much Beta activity). The reduction in activity and brain metabolites also allows the immune system to reduce inflammation - helping to reduce chronic pain to some extent.

At the lower levels of Theta, the body also starts to release the growth hormones - typically released in sleep - which can accelerate healing and boosts the immune system.

Hence, achieving and maintaining Theta states - under controlled conditions - is very desirable, and can provide many of the benefits of sleep without needing to actually sleep!

Theta is also associated with oob holistic thinking and is a great source of inspirational creativity if you need to solve problems where regular logic (Beta) cannot deliver a solution.

Now, entrainment can induce Theta states IF you are able to chill. If you are actively struggling with a conscious problem, then Theta entrainment will have no effect. But if you have either the discipline to still the conscious, or can focus on a tranquil experience, then Theta entrainment can take you right down - and you can get many of the benefits without needing years of practicing meditation...

Below Theta is Delta. Generally, when you are in Delta, you are sleeping.

Being in Delta while also awake is where all the really whacked out claims about meditation come from...

Entrainment to Delta is a great way to send you to sleep at night! Done right, it can shut down the high Beta activity associated with insomnia and send you off to the land of Nod!

Now all of this may sound outlandish, but this stuff has been the subject of a great deal of medical research over the last 100 years.

I have refrained from going into the metaphysical stuff.

Currently, the main area of research is into Gamma states - a super-high energy state above Beta.

There is still a lot of nonsense spouted about Gamma, but it seems that it is good for Brainstorming, and appears to allow some sort of synergy between Beta logic and Theta inspiration...

My own experience is consistent with this.

So, what IS entrainment?

Well, if you have ever listened to a song, and found yourself bouncing to the beat, then you were entrained! Simple as that!

Technically, it is called the Frequency Following Response, and follows from the natural tendency that neurons have to synchronize with each other.

Binaural beats are a common approach to entrainment because most brainwave frequencies are in a range just below our hearing threshold, but higher than our ability to process individual pulses...

Binaural beats induces tones with slightly different frequencies into each ear, and the brain helpfully creates a brainwave between your ears at a frequency corresponding to the difference between the two tones!

Your brain then syncronizes to this self-induced brainwave!

It is pretty cool!

An additional beneficial side effect of this is that it exercises and strengthens your corpus calossum - increasing the integration between left and right hemispheres of the brain.

For 99.99% of people this is a definite benefit, but in folks prone to seizures it might not be... Medically, nobody knows why, but in folks with excessive seizures, severing the corpus calossum can eliminate them.

So, because of this, binaural beats are generally not recommended for folks prone to seizures...

Let me know if this info is helpful.

It is all available on the internet, and if you dig, you can find a wealth of medical research to back it up.
 
any relationship with the gateway experience?
Yup! The Monroe Institute Hemi-sync was based on Binaural Beats, primarily operating in the low Delta range (~ 0.5Hz) and extending up to low Theta (~ 4Hz).

this also showed benefits for reducing amyloid beta in rats, which is increased in alzheimer and in sleep deprivation

and seems to correlate with the insightful state during ayahuasca
There are lots of positive reports about Gamma states! I have no experience with ayahuasca.

Note Binaural Beats may not be very effective at inducing Gamma wave activity as Gamma typically operates above the hearing threshold, and at that frequency the "beat" frequency between the ears becomes a steady tone...

For Gamma entrainment, Isochronic Tones are the usual recommended approach.

With Isochronic Tones, the amplitude of a single monophonic carrier frequency is pulsed at the desired brainwave frequency, and the brainwaves entrain to the pulse frequency.

Some folks swear by this approach at all brainwave frequencies. Others say it doesn't work at all below about 3Hz - 4Hz. Others just find the Isochronic sound experience so jarring that it is not worth it whether it works or not... (At higher frequencies it sounds like you are in a helicopter; at the lowest Delta frequencies, it can sound plain silly...)
 
Yup! The Monroe Institute Hemi-sync was based on Binaural Beats, primarily operating in the low Delta range (~ 0.5Hz) and extending up to low Theta (~ 4Hz).


There are lots of positive reports about Gamma states! I have no experience with ayahuasca.

Note Binaural Beats may not be very effective at inducing Gamma wave activity as Gamma typically operates above the hearing threshold, and at that frequency the "beat" frequency between the ears becomes a steady tone...

For Gamma entrainment, Isochronic Tones are the usual recommended approach.

With Isochronic Tones, the amplitude of a single monophonic carrier frequency is pulsed at the desired brainwave frequency, and the brainwaves entrain to the pulse frequency.

Some folks swear by this approach at all brainwave frequencies. Others say it doesn't work at all below about 3Hz - 4Hz. Others just find the Isochronic sound experience so jarring that it is not worth it whether it works or not... (At higher frequencies it sounds like you are in a helicopter; at the lowest Delta frequencies, it can sound plain silly...)
yeah, the app i use has a mixed mode i believe yours has too where it changes between isochronic, binaural and bihemispheric but not sure where are the thresholds
 
yeah, the app i use has a mixed mode i believe yours has too where it changes between isochronic, binaural and bihemispheric but not sure where are the thresholds
My app allows you to choose the preferred entrainment mode (Binaural, Monaural, Isochronic) when you create a session, and allows you to override that preference each time you play it. My app does not automatically switch based on frequency.

By default, I tend to use Binaural - but it requires headphones to work, and is not really suitable if you want to use a speaker under the pillow for sleep induction sessions. For that I use Monaural, which simply mixes the two Binaural signals into a monophonic beating signal that, at low frequencies, has a similar, but milder amplitude modulation effect to Isochronic, but which has, what I believe, is a much more effective entrainment effect than Isochronic at those frequencies. I, personally, only tend to use Isochronic when I am experimenting with exclusively Gamma or high Beta sessions. Even with a high level of Pink Noise I find it too fierce.
 

Transient

The Force is Strong With This One
Thank you for the well thought out and written overview. You are correct there is an abundance of info on the net.
The “random noise” (wandering thoughts) is what has become difficult to suppress that and a constant ’ringing’ in one or both ears at various frequencies. Tinnitus??
Now all of this may sound outlandish, but this stuff has been the subject of a great deal of medical research over the last 100 years.
At this stage in my life not much seems outlandish...
Seems to me sometimes it’s a question of which state(s) of consciousness are altered how, and to what degree?
This approach appears to have therapeutic potential and I will continue to educate and begin to utilize in an effort to help with my sleep and other issues.
Your response is indeed helpful.
Seems to me a “marriage “ of these different techniques might yield greater results.
 
Thank you for the well thought out and written overview. You are correct there is an abundance of info on the net.
The “random noise” (wandering thoughts) is what has become difficult to suppress that and a constant ’ringing’ in one or both ears at various frequencies. Tinnitus??

At this stage in my life not much seems outlandish...
Seems to me sometimes it’s a question of which state(s) of consciousness are altered how, and to what degree?
This approach appears to have therapeutic potential and I will continue to educate and begin to utilize in an effort to help with my sleep and other issues.
Your response is indeed helpful.
Seems to me a “marriage “ of these different techniques might yield greater results.
I had Tinnitus for a while. It turned out to be the result of inflammation in my neck vertebrae that expanded into my brain stem. Caused a bunch of migraines too!

In my case it was cured by changing my posture. But Tinnitus can be a warning of bad things so it is worth getting it checked out...

One thing to know about “Altered States” is that they are ALL altered states other than regular Beta consciousness.

Reading a book triggers an altered state; Daydreaming IS an altered state; Watching TV triggers an altered state!

The key is that the different states have properties that can be beneficial in the right context and less beneficial in others. Learning about the states and how your brain processes various stimuli will tell you a lot about who you are, and why you are who you are.

From there you can actually optimize your brain state to best fit situations as they arise.
 
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