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Thread: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

  1. #1

    Default Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Hi.
    I'm The Dod, and I kinda "got here through the service door" . In the 90s me and my friends had brain machines (is this term still used?) of various shapes and degrees of sophistication. I don't remember makes and models, but some of these machine had presets to make you sleepy/awake/focused/creative etc. and my degree of "expertise" in the field was that I knew how to select presets (in other words, I was an end user).

    A while ago it has dawned on me that technology (e.g. arduino) and me have advanced enough so that I could build a brain machine from howto posts that must be out there on the net. Pretty soon I've found a post by Chris Sparnicht (based on Mitch Altman's 2008 post), and I now maintain my own fork of that code (so far I've made minor changes that are not brainwave-entrainment related).

    The machine comes with a single "program" (I don't know what term to use for a brainwave entrainment sequence, but it's like what we used to call "presets").

    Essentially, my questions are:
    • What does this program do (in terms of making me sleepy/awake/focused/creative/etc.)?
    • How can I create (or import) programs that do other things?


    I hope people here can help me with that.
    Thanks in andvance,
    The Dod

    ------------------------------->8-----------------
    Here are the tl;dr details (+ attachment)

    The machine can perform the following primitives:
    1. Play a binaural tone on the headphones (central tone is 440Hz)
    2. Blink both LEDs with a specific duration (in tenths of milliseconds) for "on time" and "off time" (examples from the code: 347, 347 and 451, 450)
    3. Same as 2, but blink the LEDs alternately (so the number pair actually means "left time" and "right time")


    Then there are higher level operations called brainwave elements that correspond with beta, alpha and theta that imply blinking at some specific rates while playing a specific binaural tone[*]. For alpha (for example), it blinks with on/of times of 451 and 450 while playing a binaural tone of 11.1Hz.
    For each element there are 2 variants (e.g. for theta, they're called "t' and "T"). The lowercase one is for blinking both LEDs in synch, and the uppercase one blinks them alternately.

    At the highest level, there's the "program", which is a sequence of brainwave elements, each with a duration. I've attached a csv (text) file with all the data. I hope people here can explain to me what it does.

    I have no idea what this program is supposed to do (e.g. in terms of making me sleepy/awake/focused/creative etc.). Subjectively, I can report that twice I've tried it at night, tired, and planning to sleep soon, and in both cases it kept me awake for a few more hours (I tried to sleep, couldn't, gave up and did something else).

    What I'm here for (of course) is to figure out how to understand such programs, but I hope to stay an "end user" as much as possible, and simply find a way to convert tried and tested files from other platforms (e.g. the ones this forum is for) to something I can use with the machine described above. One way or the other, I'd like to improve my mind, and only have some of the ingredients
    ____[*] I remember reading somewhere that although binuaral tones are much less effective than isochronic tones, when synchronized with blinking, they're "effective enough" since the brain is already syncing with that frequency visually. Can I rely on this assumption? Isochronic tones would require wave-playing hardware (as far as I understand), so I'd rather not go there.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by thedod; 10-19-2019 at 10:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Welcome welcome welcome!

    You should be able to learn all you want to know (and probably more) about AVS and Brain Entrainment right here. It's a bit of reading, but it sounds like you're interested, so that shouldn't deter you.
    Let me get you started:
    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...Our-Mind-Works
    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...-best-from-AVS
    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...e-your-machine

    And of course all the AVS Articles from here.

    Let me know how you get on. I'm interested to hear how your project comes along!
    -Andy.

    Hey, if someone makes a good post, don't forget to click at the bottom of their post to add to their reputation!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Thanks. Still reading it all, and it's all very helpful. discovered 2 things (so far) that are particularly helpful:
    1. From CraigT's post I've learned that the term for what I was calling "program" or "preset" was "session".
    2. In a thread re Procyon session descriptions, DarkusChi attaches a PDF doc with Proteus session descriptions. This is exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
    I'm so glad I've found this forum.

    One question though: some of the frequencies in the session descriptions are >25Hz (max is 28Hz). I remember reading that binaural beats stopped working there.
    Which option is better?
    1. Leaving things as they are and hoping that in that 3Hz band the visual stimulation would compensate for the inefficiencies of the audio
    2. "Squashing" the sessions down to 25Hz max

    I'm leaning towards 1 (feels more natural), but suggestions are welcome.
    Last edited by thedod; 10-18-2019 at 01:25 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Hello again;

    I would think those articles will have the information you're looking for. Here's some more once you finish all those, specifically about Binaural Beats...

    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...ency-is-strong!
    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...and-technology
    -Andy.

    Hey, if someone makes a good post, don't forget to click at the bottom of their post to add to their reputation!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    As for the question what does the session on "my" machine (it's Mitch Altman's. Essentially I've just copied the file ), the answer in Altman's post is "track the meditation experience". Somehow, intuitively, I was always meditating while doing this. Turns out this is what I was supposed to do .

    There's a short textual breakdown to brainwave bands (what's the term for beta/alpha/etc.?) in a comment in the code.

    I'm also attaching a spreadsheet chart I did that shows frequencies throughout the 1137 seconds (~19 minutes) of the session.

    This brings up a new question:
    Altman's machine can only switch between fixed frequencies discreetly: 60 seconds of beta, then 10 seconds of alpha, etc. Altman explains that in order to train [say] from beta to alpha, "we generate beta for a while, then alpha, then toggle between beta and alpha, reducing the duration of beta and increasing that of alpha with each iteration" (this can be seen in the attached image).
    OTOH, in the Proteus session graphs I see smooth transitions between frequencies.

    Is this really what Proteus and similar machines do, or am I misunderstanding the graph (and each smooth transition on the graph is actually a set of discrete hops as described by altman)?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by thedod; 10-19-2019 at 10:33 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Proteus graphs are accurate. If they slope then there's a ramp to the next frequency. If there's a jump then the frequency changes quickly.
    Even more reading...
    http://mindplacesupport.com/forum/sh...on-Preferences

    You should also read "Short History of Sound and Light" in the articles section.
    -Andy.

    Hey, if someone makes a good post, don't forget to click at the bottom of their post to add to their reputation!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Thanks. That's very promising. I'll try to see whether I can change frequencies smoothly on this hardware (I probably can, but not sure yet), add some input (trimmer) and feedback (RGB LED) for session selection, and then it's party time

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    O.M.G.

    You are hardcore!
    -Andy.

    Hey, if someone makes a good post, don't forget to click at the bottom of their post to add to their reputation!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Greetings--great project, and thanks for sharing! The markings on the graph are a bit skewed though; alpha is usually considered 9-12 or sometimes 9-13 Hz, while your graph seems to have them at 22 Hz. Likewise, theta is usually set to 4-8 Hz, though these categories are a bit fuzzy at the edges. There exists a variety of approaches to audio visual stimulation; hopping back and forth between frequencies has been thought to improve EEG flexibility; the ADHD studies Dr. Russell etc. ran in the 90s used prototypes we built that included an EEG lead, measured the EEG in the range 13-22 Hz, and every 30 seconds would alternate stimulation at either 1 hz above or 1 hz below the "dominant" FFT bin (analyzed in 1 Hz bands). In effect, the light frequency moved around a lot, and the test kids had a verbal IQ increase on average of 10 points by the 40th session.

  10. Default Re: Intro + entrainment programming/sequencing questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Austin View Post
    The markings on the graph are a bit skewed
    ZOMG!!!1 I've checked again, and due to some spreadsheet fluke, all frequencies got multiplied by 2.
    Altman's actual frequencies are Beta: 14.4, Alpha: 11.1, Theta: 6.0, Delta: 2.2.
    I'll fix the graph soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Austin View Post
    hopping back and forth between frequencies has been thought to improve EEG flexibility
    This is interesting. for the next machine I thought of abandoning Altman's frequency-hopping session and only do linear frequency slides (I sometimes refer to the 2 models as "chunky" and "creamy"), but now I see there may be merit in letting the user also select "the original chunky" session. I believe the Arduino would have enough memory to keep code and data for both.


    OBTW, I now maintain a loose list of useful brainwave-entrainment related links (some are to posts at this forum) at the github project's wiki.
    Easy to remember link: https://is.gd/selfservicebrainwash

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