How about Making Healware?

The following is an appeal written by my friend Melinda Pillsbury-Foster. In essence, she proposes an application of OpenBCI hardware and the development of neurofeedback software to bring self therapy through neurofeedback to the masses of people suffering from such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I am opening this discussion in the hopes of attracting support for this effort.
Out of problems, we can 'Make' solutions and spread the benefits to many.
You hear people talk about the present upsurge of alcoholism and drug use. More 12-step programs are popping up all the time as people try to cope with these 'addictions.' Returning veterans are heavily represented in these programs—if they are not stoned out with a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals issued through the Veteran's Administration that all too often kill them.
One trauma adds more traumas, and more people are impacted every single day now.
Add to this the problems children are struggling with, including ADHD, another neurologiccal condition.
People are phobic and traumatized in more ways than you can shake a stick at because so many unexpected and horrible things are happening in every part of our lives.
As a result they become fearful, angry, or passive, and their ability to innovate and solve problems is severely impacted.
These very real problems transform people who were once productive into welfare recipients, dependent on food banks as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. 
The core problem is actually Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are dozens of other names for the neurological impact on the brain. It creates anxiety which makes it impossible for people to function normally.
Because the symptoms look to us like being lazy, addicted, incompetent, or too stupid to be believed, we lump them all together. But 76% can be returned to normal, optimized functioning. Think about that. Think about how different our country would be today if we could free up people ready and able to do something productive. Instead of being a problem, which absorbs resources from society. 
Cure is possible. The solution grew out of biofeedback research that started decades ago. The US military has been using this technology since the 1980s for high-end specialists who need to have split-second reactions and optimal functioning. But they don't waste it on returning veterans, even though their problems could be solved this way.
High end executives, floor traders, people with high-end jobs use this solution routinely, as do professional athletes.
So what does this have to do with Makeware? Everything.
We can produce a unit which puts HealWare into the hands of every one who is facing the problem of PTSD.
What if we could get people off welfare by enabling them to heal the neurological condition at the source of drug addiction and alcoholism?
It is not true for most of these people that they are just stupid and lazy. They are using drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety. This is why you see the radical change in so many returning veterans. This is the cause of those suicides and the violence which is destroying military families.
Neurofeedback is already in use, and its use is growing at the high-end: people from the military, finance, and other arenas. But it is still too expensive for those struggling to survive. All in all, the treatments can cost thousands of dollars and take a lot of time.
But like so many technologies, neurofeedback has been maturing. Technology now exists that is automated and takes just a few minutes to learn.
The human brain is amazingly plastic. It can, and does, heal itself.
This is HealWare. A small unit with three small contacts, so the brain can rebuild. The individual can build new pathways in the brain, stilling the loops caused by trauma.
Once one experiences the difference, the loss the fear and anxiety, the world is a different place, productivity increases dramatically and drugs and alcohol lose their attractions.
Imagine handing a unit, costing $100 or less, to a returning veteran suffering with anxiety so intense they destroy everything around them, their family, their job, and their hope for the future.
Imagine a child on pharmaceuticals became of ADHD who no longer needs to take any pharmaceuticals.
Today, most people who get neurofeedback therapy, do so because they have heard about it from someone else who used it. Word of mouth advertising sells.
HealWare yourself clean, sober, relaxed, optimized, no longer fearful. Now go find others and help them HealWare. This is not big money. It is get-back-on-my-feet money opening the door to an opportunity for people around the world to heal and make money at the same time.
The open hardware can make this happen.
The FDA currently requires no training for neurofeedback, even when someone is giving the therapy. That is how far the automation has come. It can cause no harm.
Instead of killing themselves, either through suicide or through their chosen method for self medication, they start earning money by Healwaring others. We can begin rebuilding lives.
I see explosions in productivity and activism, a path which can become a superhighway to change in every part of our world.
Healware. A small unit with three small connectors allowing each who needs it to heal the traumatized brain.


  • My opening post makes a case for Healware; in this comment, I will try to describe how this effort fits into OpenBCI's existing framework.
    In short, the proposal is for the Board-plus-headset, as would be used in gaming, to be coupled with software on the host computer to accomplish biofeedback. That software would take the place of the computer game and would require development work. 
    So developing Healware would largely entail software development, because the hardware side would piggyback on existing efforts (and economies of scale).
    It is useful to consider existing clinical work of the sort we are trying to reproduce. 
    A firm, Zengar, provides the current state-of-the-art hardware and software for biofeedback treatment of PTSD, as reported in a newspaper article
    Norman Doidge's book, The Brain That Changes Itself, mentions using a video game-like software for retraining the brain in, for example, stroke patients. In a video interview, he mentions Posit Science and its principal Dr. Michael Mersanek (sp.?).
    Presumably, a body of publicly available research papers describe such efforts and can guide development efforts. 
    It appears that the BrainBay software may be quite useful. 
    I will try to post more specific information as I find it, and I hope others may do so as well. 
    Also, this thread may be moved to a more appropriate section of this forum, like the Software forum.
  • I like your drive to find specific, practical applications that help folks out.  My own personal interest in this stuff is more about the tech and about my own interactions with it, but I very much respect people who can think bigger.

    All that I can contribute is that OpenBCI was compatible with BrainBay back during the OpenBCI V1 and V2 days and, now that in at V3, I think that William Croft has been working to ensure that it is compatible again with V3.  So, if you think that BrainBay can satisfy what you're shooting for, it looks like the OpenBCI electronics will be compatible.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA
    edited October 2014
    Arthur, hi.

    There are a range of neurofeedback protocols used with PTSD.  The Zengar NeurOptimal you mention is one of the few that can be administered, almost on an 'automated' basis.  Since there are no settings or adjustments needed by the end user.  Dr. Val Brown, NeurOptimal's developer, has been refining its design over a period of decades.  This is a unique class of neurofeedback equipment that is unlike any that I mention below.  It is also licensed and proprietary to Zengar, with no detailed public description of the algorithms employed.  Although Val has lectured about some of the non-linear dynamical systems aspects in the past.

    Other protocols used in PTSD are Alpha Theta, ILF (Infralow Frequency), QEEG guided [surface or 3D] amplitude / Z-score training, LENS / Neurofield / HPN Neurologic [these are augmented with PEMF feedback], etc.  This latter class of protocols usually requires some skillful monitoring and administration.  In other words, it would be challenging to turn it into a consumer type device that you just "turn on" and use.  PTSD is a complex condition, where no "one size fits all" solution is currently available.  Here are some example links,

    We do have Brainbay working with OpenBCI.  It is a decent entry level and open source visual programming environment.  Other equivalent programs used more widely by neurofeedback practitioners are the commercial packages Bioexplorer and BioEra.

    If you'd like to see an example of what is involved in home-training with neurofeedback, a good site is Pete Van Deusen's, .  Covers both equipment and protocols.  This is a very active community of home-trainers, with their own Yahoo group, etc.  For the most part they are using Pocket Neurobics equipment, but would be compatible with OpenBCI if Bioexplorer is available (OpenEEG emulation).

    A promising device that is just getting started with available software, is the Muse headset, coupled with their smartphone app.  Many of us are hoping that integrated dry sensor assemblies will becoming more widely available, so that they can be adapted into new headset designs.  Fixed / limited location headsets are great to start with, but you need full 10-20 location flexibility to open up to the range of protocols available.

    I guarantee you that many of us working with OpenBCI will continue to be involved with making neurofeedback technology more widely available and open access.


  • Thank you, Chip and William! I appreciate your thoughtful responses and valuable information, which I am processing now.
  • I was actually hoping the same thing.  I have a background in Computer Science and a friend of mine turned me on to hardware hacking (Arduino).  I'm still pretty much a newbie at the hardware hacking side but the software side doesn't intimidate me as much as well as the data processing.  I just purchased an OpenBCI board in hopes that I can help get neurofeedback a little more accessible to people.  I'm not sure how much I can contribute right away but hope to get into it allot more this year.  I feel pretty lucky to have the access I do now to neurofeedback and I'm hart broken every time I hear a news story of a mother with depression killing their autistic child in desperation.  There just doesn't seem to be very good support for this kind of thing.  I have a daughter on the Autistic spectrum myself which is what got us into neurofeedback but we've been learning more an more about it and working with our pediatrician and using a Eeginfo NeuroAmp and Cygnet software.  We are following a very specific protocol for anxiety and some other things.  It was allot of money to get a used unit but with four kids we thought it was better financially in the long run to just get fully into it.  So I'm kind of hoping to see how close I can get this OpenBCI board of doing some of the good neurofeedback stuff our current NeuroAmp does.  

    I'm looking forward to reading through this forum and others and learning all that I can so I can help contribute.  :-)
  • @minwedar, Thanks for posting here. Each one of us has his/her own motivation for moving this effort forward, and, as someone with a family full of Spectrum people and as one who is devoted to giving care to people who are suffering, I too am motivated by empathy. Let us see what we might do together. I am grateful to this forum for enabling us to share.
  • RahereRahere London
    edited June 25

    Restarting this, things have moved on. We've a fair idea of the mechanisms of PTSD and healing, and I've started to refute my diagnosis of high-performing Aspergers, because the diagnosis is incoherent, based on researcher bias. The recognition of neurodiversity is partly based on that: I use my brain properly, but because I'm lucid, I don't think differently, in most things, I think more. That "in most things" is because I've an X-skill, I'm hyperperceptive, which is part of High Sensitivity with knobs on. I also test at Master level in Reiki, which gathers interoceptive meridian awareness, diplomatic right-brain long-distance empathy, and zen christian meditation into a package.

    To break this out: a 24-hour EEG showed my brain runs at 30% at rest, and can go to 100%. I have only vestigial beta-phase sleep as a result, the 30% includes live-time processing of my experience, making me uniquely fast as an intelligence analyst: it brought the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the team. The downside is my mindscapes are far too large for a neurotypical to take on board. I can communicate perfectly well, but he can't receive!

    So, in practical terms: PTSD. Can you suppress cognitive interference with the limbic, mostly in neuroception from the mid-brain gyri? The entire gamut of treatments do that using meditative techniques, running from Shibari subspace through mindfulness into full meditation, hypnosis, shamanics, psychotropics. The Innate Alarm System was documented last year by Braeden Terpou, and we're fairly sure Peter Levine's limbic self-heal remains available long after the event, contrary to his original thinking.

    ASD. The available research shows other traits, because it's nonsense to group top intellects with the intellectually-challenged. The entire history is discrimination, from Asperger to Dabrowsky to Attwood. I've identified the comms angle, Elaine Aron's work in High Sensitivity covers most of the rest: as far as I can tell, my meltdowns are Pavlovian transmarginal inhibition (my neuroception stopping me trying to use more brainpower than I've got, triggering an Innate Alarm System fugue) and pure trauma, from how I was abused in childhood. What would be interesting is to know if other high-performance individuals also use exceptionally high brain loading.

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