Mind Machines

Christopher A Baker cabaker at minerva.cis.yale.edu
Thu Oct 20 15:39:04 EST 1994

Bartosz Kijanka (bartosz at u.washington.edu) wrote:

: I'm wondering on the effectiveness of the "Mind Machine."  This is a 
: Light/Sound device which supposedly tunes your brain with blinking LEDs 
: in front of your eyes and certain audio input.  This machine in 
: particular has been advertising in Omni as well as other places.  Has 
: anyone here tried such machine?  Or, mor importantly, has any definitive 
: research been done on these machines?

I've worked on some EEG projects using a device similar to what you 
describe; LEDs are flashed in front of your eyes and tones ring in your 
ears.  The frequency of the lights and sounds could be varied so as to 
induce certain types of rhythmic activity (alpha, beta, and delta 
waves).  We used the device in conjunction with an Electrocap EEG 
system.  In addition to participating in the research, I also tried out 
the machine as a subject.  Exposure to alpha frequency stimulation was 
relaxing; I was woozy at times after the alpha stimulation, so after a 
subject had experienced alpha stimulation (the research project was on 
alpha waves), we often "woke the subject up" with stimulation at the 
higher beta frequency (this would help eliminate the woozy feelings).  
That is, getting up after the alpha stimulation felt much like being 
awakened just as one is coming out of a dream (the brain wave activity 
during relaxation and dreaming isn't the same, though).  

In short, our machine was somewhat effective in inducing different types 
of relaxaion states and brain wave activity as measured by EEG.  I do not 
believe, however, that the device we used was of the brand that you 
mention or even that the device that we used was available as a retail 
item.  The research was very preliminary and was conducted at the 
Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University, Bowling 
Green, Ohio, by Dr. Jaak Panksepp - the project did not go a great 
distance while I was there, because the EEG system (not the LED light 
stimulator) kept malfunctioning... :-)

Christopher A. Baker
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, CT 06510
cabaker at minerva.cis.yale.edu

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