|Original url: http://icye.org/?as_grant|
|Published: PC Magazine by By Bill Machrone|
|While some people dispute the efficacy of entrainment,
subliminal messages, and similar techniques, others swear by them. Try some of the
downloads and make upif not improveyour own mind.
Everybody knows that computers can drive you crazy, but what can they do to improve your mental stateor even change the way your brain functions? In our stress-filled world, it's good to learn how to get a grip, or at least mellow out. There are many solutions, spanning a variety of technologies. Some, such as screen savers with soothing images and nature sounds, are intended to engender a nonspecific feeling of relaxation, while others are more directed. Some use hardware for biofeedback and reinforcement, so you know when you're achieving results.
The Journey to Wild Divine ( http://www.wilddivine.com/ ), for example, is an adventure-style game with rich graphics, music, and sensor cuffs that you place on your fingers to read your heart rate and galvanic skin reaction level. As you play the game, you learn to modify your energy levels in both directionslower and higherby controlling your breathing, visualization, and even laughter. I've used Wild Divine and can attest to its effectiveness. Some may find its earth mothers and blissed-out guru mentors off-putting, but there's nothing wrong with what the program teaches. It's a bit strange at first to move things on the screen and navigate by focusing or defocusing your mental energies, but you'll feel like a Jedi in no time.
Another hardware-software combination, Play Attention ( http://www.playattention.com/ ), is aimed at the education market. It's designed to help students increase their attention span and perhaps overcome the stigma associated with attention deficit disorder. Many schools, including my local district, have adopted Play Attention. It consists of software "games," an interface box, and a bicycle helmet equipped with several electrodes to pick up brain waves.
One of the games features a bird flying across the landscape. If you focus on the bird, the electronics pick up the greater ratio of high theta to beta brain waves and the bird soars higher. If your attention wanders, beta waves increase and the bird sinks down until it's skimming the ground again. Other games reward attention and focus in various ways, and the program tabulates each user's progress. By increasing the students' awareness of their attentiveness, the program also teaches them to focus in contexts outside of the games. Adults can use it as well as children; the company recommends 40 to 60 hours of training. It is setting up and franchising Play Attention Learning Centers across the country.
Another method uses brain entrainment to stimulate brain waves at specific frequencies, including the mellow alpha waves (812 Hz) and the deeper theta (38 Hz) waves. According to researchers, entrainment occurs when the brain is stimulated by flashing lights or sounds at these frequencies. Since these frequencies are below the lowest tones our ears can detect, entrainment audio typically has binaural tones that generate beats at alpha or theta frequencies. Sometimes the audio is modulated, much like a singer's natural vibrato, to encourage entrainment without the need for earphones. Out of curiosity, I looked up the frequency range for singers' vibratos, and it ranges from 4 to 7 Hz, right in the theta range. It's possible that we find such singing pleasant because it coaxes our brains into a more relaxed state.
You can download many programs to create relaxation or self-improvement recordings, and commercial, mission-specific recordings are also plentiful. Some add subliminal messages; others simply include a voice track while playing entraining tones. Have a look at www.transparentcorp.com ; its Neural Programmer has prerecorded scripts and allows you to record your own over its relaxing background sounds.
For ultimate control over your recordings, check out the Subliminal Recording System
If you want to see what your brain is doing, check out the OpenEEG project, which
enables you to build your own electroencephalograph ( http://openeeg.sourceforge.net/
). You'll need to be handy with a soldering iron: This is no RadioShack project. The
components should run $400 to $500. The code is written for Linux. A commercial
two-channel brain wave recorder, such as the BrainaMaster ( http://store.biofeedbackzone.com/braba.html)
or WaveRider Jr.
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