implementing Jeff Tarrant's Neuromeditation FOCUS protocol

Danny85Danny85 Toronto
edited August 2020 in General Discussion

Hello,

My name is Danny, I am in a student club at York University called Neuroscience Research Group.

I recently heard that OpenBCI has discontinued their focus widget due to concerns about reliability.

Our club would like to create a similar widget following the neuromeditation protocol used in the video below. We plan to reward frontal headline Theta at Fz and inhibit beta at Pz. In the video Dr.Tarrent is using a 19 channel setup with sLoreta but in other videos he has said you can follow his protocol using a two channel system.

Do you think it's reasonable to attempt this protocol with just two channels?

We are using a ganglion so we have access to as many as 4 channels at a time.

As a sidenote, we plan to have the widget start with a white screen that fade to blue as the user gains focus.
If the user looses focus the screen will fade to white.

Thank you,
Danny

Comments

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    Hi Dan,

    Here are two talks (links) given by Jeff Tarrant from the NeuroMeditation Institute. He gives an overview of the styles of meditation, and 10-20 sites that he measures in his neurofeedback protocols. He does both 2 channel and 19 channel (3D Loreta) protocols.

    So yes, 2 channel is definitely feasible and useful. Note that while a GUI 'widget' can be made for this neurofeedback application -- you may find it easier and faster to construct the design with one of the neurofeedback apps that are targeted to neurofeedback applications. Your image above shows Brainmaster, which is expensive and only works with Brainmaster amplifiers.

    I'd recommend checking out these apps: neuromore, BrainBay, BioEra. These are all called 'VPL', Visual Programming Languages, where the design is constructed by a graphic series of function boxes. So you can have a design running in less than an hour of work.

    https://www.neuromore.com/

    http://www.shifz.org/brainbay/

    http://bioera.net/

    William

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA
    edited August 2020

    You should note that the previous 'focus' widget and Tarrant's 'focus meditation' are indeed two different brain state 'goals' or targets. And the focus meditation, as with the other meditation styles, are generally done with eyes closed. So you could use an audio feedback instead of visual; as Tarrant states.

    Here is a tutorial showing a similar type of design using BrainBay. (single channel, Alpha reward, Beta inhibit).

    https://sites.google.com/site/biofeedbackpages/brainbay-openbci

    Note that BrainBay has not yet been converted to use the newer Brainflow libraries, and still depends on the older 'OpenBCI Hub' process. You can find a copy of that here, in the 'data' subfolder of the zip or unpacked archive.

    https://github.com/OpenBCI/OpenBCI_GUI/releases/tag/v4.2.0

    If you'd like a more challenging / time consuming project, you could help convert BrainBay Ganglion interface to Brainflow, and submit that to the BrainBay developer, Chris Veigl. BrainBay Cyton interface uses the original serial port protocol, and does not need to be immediately converted.

    https://brainflow.readthedocs.io/en/stable/
    https://github.com/ChrisVeigl/BrainBay

    The Hub interface in BrainBay is located in file,

    https://github.com/ChrisVeigl/BrainBay/blob/master/src/ob_ganglion.cpp

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    re: neuromore. I think it is similar to BrainBay, and does not yet talk to Ganglion, even with the Hub. It only talks to Cyton. However neuromore can receive OSC format stream, and OpenBCI GUI can be configured to send OSC in the Networking widget.

    re: BioEra, this is a paid app vs free, but has extensive capabilities. It is the base layer of many renowned commercial neurofeedback packages such as LENS, Cygnet, etc. BioEra talks directly to both Ganglion and Cyton. Also Pete van Deusen's Brain-Trainer system is now transitioning to BioEra from the previous Bioexplorer.

    https://brain-trainer.com/

  • paulbrennanpaulbrennan Victoria, Canada

    Great project Danny! Just an observation, according to my notes, the Tarrant protocol for Focus is Reward gamma (35-45) at FZ & Reward alpha 8-12 at PZ. (as opposed to theta). Whereas his mindfulness protocol is to reward Theta 4-8 at FZ and reward gamma at PZ.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    Paul, have you tried any of Jeff Tarrant's neuromeditation protocols yourself? These are easy to setup with two channels. Particularly interested in your comparison with Tarrant's assisted meditation, with you own experience with unassisted types of meditation. Does the neuromeditation approach significantly enhance the depth or quality of the meditation?

    One downside to Jeff's 19 channel protocols, is the discomfort of a 19 channel elastic Electro-cap. In the past I've done QEEGs with the Electrocap, and the pressure of the elastic on the head is quite uncomfortable, after only say 30 minutes. At the one hour point it would be close to unbearable. And most of my own mindfulness / vipassana style meditation goes 1 hour plus.

    Regards, William

    PS, ah, I'm realizing now that you still are using the Muse? So Fz Pz positioning is not possible. Since Muse just has a single 'Aux' electrode that is movable.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    Whereas his mindfulness protocol is to reward Theta 4-8 at FZ and reward gamma at PZ.

    So actually the theta reward at Fz and beta inhibit at Pz, looks to be a variation of the mindfulness protocol, perhaps more geared to quieting mind chatter / self-referential thoughts at the PCC / Precuneus. So it's possible he would start with this form of mindfulness until mind wandering is under control. Then graduate to the gamma reward at Pz to get more of the pattern seen in advanced meditators.

  • paulbrennanpaulbrennan Victoria, Canada

    HI William, so yes I have only one channel so I haven't been able to do most of them yet. More channels are coming! I'm very interested in Jeff's work and have corresponded with him a bit. Actually one of his colleagues at the institute, Heather Hargraves, is putting on a webinar next Friday that I'll attend. One thing I will say is, I notice Jeff leans pretty heavily on research that was done at the Maharishi Uni, so presumably TM practitioners and a little while ago, and I do wonder if there is more recent and better research out by now - I think that new stuff is coming out all the time, and with increasing sophistication. Leigh Brasington has taken part in research on jhana states that is very interesting, and there's Judson Brewer's fMRI work, and I'm sure much more.

  • paulbrennanpaulbrennan Victoria, Canada

    Returning to JT's protocols for a moment if I may - I guess the simplest one to do is Quiet Mind, alpha up at Pz - single channel. He also suggests trying a narrower band for alpha (8-10). It's interesting that Ros' research supports both alpha down and alpha up at Pz, based on different neuroplasticity models, and maybe for different populations. Another thing I notice about JT's protocols is that several of them use gamma. This is interesting to me because my clinical coursework barely ever mentions gamma. He seems to find it more useful than beta for tracking activation, and that reflects my initial observations. Perhaps the early equipment didn't track gamma well and that's why it hasn't been a big part of NFB? Just guessing.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    Paul, hi.

    I split the Tomas Ros discussion to a new thread. This one can continue with Jeff Tarrant / neuromeditation comments.

    https://openbci.com/forum/index.php?p=/discussion/2647/alpha-inhibit-desynchronization-neurofeedback-tomas-ros

    However I'm still bit confused as to Ros's explanation of Pz Alpha as it relates to mind-wandering.

    I'm not aware of any of Ros' comments on 'mind-wandering'. He is not into neuromeditation, but rather how alpha desynchronization results in normalization of PTSD and amygdala dysfunction. I'll post a partial list of his publications regarding alpha inhibit on the new thread.

  • steelysteely Germany
    edited April 16

    Is assisted meditation helpful? I am unhappy with the duration that I can keep the focus sharp and fine. The focus wanders off. I tried vipassana and the focus was the most challenging. I was also diagnosed with adhd.
    So I am wondering if giving my mind additional feedback, like with the tarrant focus protocol, would enhance my meditation practice and to get a grip on focus?
    But I just don't want to buy a device and then realize that assisted meditation is not what I imagined. Maybe its uncomfortable, or the reading not exact, or not really helpful.
    What do you think? What works better, assisted or unassisted?

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    Steely, hi.

    Is assisted meditation helpful? I am unhappy with the duration that I can keep the focus sharp and fine. The focus wanders off. I tried vipassana and the focus was the most challenging. I was also diagnosed with adhd.

    Traditionally, the best form of 'assisted meditation', is with a good meditation teacher. One that matches the most appropriate style of meditation for your requirements. Tarrant has a free test on his site:

    https://www.neuromeditationinstitute.com/whats-your-style

    Beyond the meditation question, there are also specific neurofeedback protocols that are used clinically for ADHD. These are NOT meditation oriented.

    Here is a screenshot of Tarrant's Youtube lecture above, the slide on the Focus meditation protocol:

    One channel gamma reward is particularly challenging. Since (a) the gamma amplitude at the scalp is very low, typically only a few microvolts; hence contaminated with noise. (b) The scalp muscles can also 'fake' the appearance of gamma, so this form of contamination is actually EMG, masking the true EEG amplitude.

    Possible workarounds would be to use THREE channels, and two for the frontal area at say F3 and F4. Instead of single electrode at Fz. Then you could select / reward for gamma synchrony (such as adding F3 and F4). This possibly could remove some of the EMG contamination, provided that separate muscles are vibrating out of phase and canceling. Just a hunch, have not tried this.

    In summary, vipassana might not have been your best choice to try. Or the particular teacher you worked with may have not been a good match. I do know that some of the Burmese lineage vipassana teachers have a reputation of being possibly overly rigid and may not devote enough time to heart-opening practices / embodiment practices. Meditation should / can be considered a whole-body-mind practice, not just mental.

    Regards, William

  • steelysteely Germany
    edited April 17

    When you say that the contamination is challenging for gamma, that means that the beta2 is not so challenging (because he give alternative frequencies)? btw... how to find the anterior cingulate?

    I have no experience with eeg but I think if you cannot filter out the signal really specific and error free it might hinder the use it for meditation and you might end up not use it.

    The meditation that I was doing is the goenka style meditation. so far I talked to a couple of teachers . But everybody said something different. I didn't see the progress and felt more and more irritated, worked up and unfocused along the way. I took the test of tarrant and it says that focus is the most challenging to me. So with the neuromeditation, I am thinking that if there is the possibility to look at numbers and quantify the process, I might get more specific and motivated in the training of e.g. focus. Warranted you can neuromeditate with an eeg properly. btw what I really liked was giving service. It was not too much meditation (also gratitude and forgiving meditation) but also working and a bit social interaction. It gave me more and more an emphatic experience along the 10 days. It impressed me.

    what about you? did you try neuromeditation? was meditating with a device agreeable and beneficial? can you describe the experience and noticed advantages and disadvantages?

    Would 4 channel device be enough for neuromeditation? What could you use a 8 channel device for btw?

    is there maybe any other kind of eeg on the market (europe), which could i buy used and cheap and in case resell it? Do you know some brands? I saw on ebay they sell different medical equipment....

    I think requirement would be that the device is able to connect it to a programm like bioexplorer, correct?

    Thank you for your time!!!

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA

    When you say that the contamination is challenging for gamma, that means that the beta2 is not so challenging (because he give alternative frequencies)?

    20-30 Hz (beta2) is easier to reward than gamma. HOWEVER, beta2 is also associated with hypervigilance / anxiety / tension. Beta1 is from 15 to 20 Hz, and is the more typical beta associated with mental processing. In neurofeedback protocols I'm familiar with, beta2 is more typically used as an 'inhibit', that is, the protocol discourages generation of beta2. This is because beta2 is associated with tension and over-trying. The opposite of what most neurofeedback is aiming at.

    My guess is that the meditation masters / teachers that Tarrant worked with, have specific instructions about how to remain calm, centered, focused, open-hearted -- while doing the meditation. Without this background, trying to increase gamma or beta2 could backfire.

    So again, it comes back to finding appropriate instruction, guided process. Simply plugging yourself into neurofeedback without the necessary framework, is not going to automatically reach the goal Tarrant explains. You might explore his website actually, if you want to use his processes. He may have equipment he recommends, or could direct you to a trained neuromeditation teacher in your area. He certifies such trainers.

    btw... how to find the anterior cingulate?

    Anterior cingulate is under the Fz scalp point mentioned. But sLORETA locates it more exactly in 3D coordinates.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterior_cingulate_cortex

    The meditation that I was doing is the Goenka style meditation.

    Yes, this is the Burmese style I referred to previously. I've heard multiple feedbacks from Goenka style students, of both good results, but more concerning, adverse reactions, abreactions, past triggered trauma memories, etc. You can find some of these reports online if you search. The teachers are possibly overly rigid in their approach, too focused and concentrated, too intense, not enough forgiveness, compassion, empathy, heart-healing. There are many many many meditation styles and teachers. I'd experiment a bit.

    Would 4 channel device be enough for neuromeditation? What could you use a 8 channel device for btw?

    4 channels is enough, as you can see above, Tarrant has used 2 channel. 8 channel can work as well, but there is no advantage to adding hardware channels that you do not use. 8 channel is not enough for sLORETA, which uses 19 channels.

    Regards, William

  • steelysteely Germany

    Here Jeff Tarrant shares guided meditations: https://neuromeditationinstitute.com/online-resources
    The specific focus meditation focuses broadly on inhaling and exhaling. He offers courses for around 200 dollars. But I have the feeling that I will not gain much further insights, beyond what I learned at vipassana. The focusing on the breath in vipassana is really specific, what I understood as the key in the focus practice? Concentration on one object?

    He offers a device with software for 1500.

    I guess best shot is a ganglion.

    What meditation are you practicing? Vipassana 10 day courses is a really intense experience.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA
    edited April 18

    Map on this page shows THREE certified practitioners / trainers in Tarrant's neuromeditation in Germany: Berlin, Munich, Hanover. It would seem advantageous to book a couple sessions with these folks to see what Tarrant's protocols are all about.

    https://www.neuromeditationinstitute.com/providers

  • steelysteely Germany

    @wjcroft said:
    Map on this page shows THREE certified practitioners / trainers in Tarrant's neuromeditation in Germany: Berlin, Munich, Hanover. It would seem advantageous to book a couple sessions with these folks to see what Tarrant's protocols are all about.

    https://www.neuromeditationinstitute.com/providers

    good idea!

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