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TOPIC: What do you guys know about neurofeedback?

What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 07:50 #94846

I just saw this little website www.40yearsofzen.com that purports to put you in a state that would otherwise take 40 years of zen meditation to achieve through neurofeedback.

What do you guys think/know about that? It doesn't seem like it's very aware of meditation insofar as dramatic changes of perception, but it does say they basically learned how to get out of their own way. It sounds like its talking about calm instead of serious insights...... and costs 15 thousand dollars.

But I thought I'd make a post here. I remember Chris saying some things about accepting the possibility technology could make awakening possible.
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 09:23 #94847

In regards to technologies for awakening, Vincent Horn interviewed Judson Brewer about his research on providing meditators live feedback via an FMRI machine. Check out the interview here.

The whole thing is a fascinating listen or read, but if you want to find the specific passages about changing your brain states in real-time, search for the words 'red' or 'blue' in the article.
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 09:24 #94848

From personal experience, what I *know* about neurofeedback is nothing. What I think, however, is that in very limited cases, this can help to boost concentration, but otherwise does nothing for "awakening". Since we know nothing about what awakening actually is, biologically, it will be a long time (if ever) that a device can induce it. But as with any other feedback system (neuro, mechanical, electrical) it presumes that there is some measure you are trying to control or optimize. So one has to ask: what is being fed back? What "measure" is being optimized because, to quote Tarin Greco, "you get what you optimize for"? There is still very little that can be measured in the brain, so the feedback will be of limited use.

To say that it replaces 40 years of Zen meditation is, I hope you'll agree, ridiculous.
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 10:12 #94849

Yeah, it sounded a little ludicrous, informercialish
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 10:50 #94850

Also, you might want to check out Jeff Warren's book "Head Trip". Chapter five details his experiences in trying to use EEG neurofeedback to help produce SMR spindles on demand.

The whole book is a great read. We've talked about it a bit here on AW. Search for "Head Trip".

From JeffWarren.org.
The sensory-motor rhythm (SMR) gets its name from a very specific spindle
of electrical activity over the sensory-motor cortex, where it is associated with
a reduction in sensory input and motor output. SMR states appear in moments
of Zen-like calm alertness: when you throw a tennis ball in the air and wait for its
descent, or in that brief period of thought-collecting stillness before playing a musical
instrument. Over the course of 40 sessions experimenting with neurofeedback, I tried
so hard to attain my own SMR state that I nearly drove myself insane with decidedly
non-Zen scheming and obtuseness. For all its fickleness, or perhaps because of it, SMR is
a much-cherished state. Time slows down and the moment seems to breathe. There is a
crisp, sharply defined quality to both internal thoughts and external stimuli. The state can
be learned, expanded, sustained. Other traditions have other names for it: Buddhists call it
“mindfulness”. TRAVEL NOTES: relatively accessible; stay several seconds to much longer; feels
calm, alert, super-clear senses; EEG – low beta (12 to 15 Hz).
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 11:06 #94851

Tom Otvos wrote:
What I think, however, is that in very limited cases, this can help to boost concentration, but otherwise does nothing for "awakening".

Great point, Tom. We can spend a lifetime examining our experiences looking for awakening, really optimizing our clarity and concentration, really looking at the details.
Last Edit: 13 Aug 2014 13:22 by Andy.
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 12:51 #94852

andy wrote:
In regards to technologies for awakening, Vincent Horn interviewed Judson Brewer about his research on providing meditators live feedback via an FMRI machine. Check out the interview here.

The whole thing is a fascinating listen or read, but if you want to find the specific passages about changing your brain states in real-time, search for the words 'red' or 'blue' in the article.

I had a chance to try out Judson's live feedback FMRI a couple of years ago. It was an interesting experience for sure and I can see potential for it as a teaching tool, but IMO the awakening technology is still taking baby steps.
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What do you guys know about neurofeedback? 13 Aug 2014 14:43 #94857

Very infomercialish, yes.

But I have done that training, or at least EEG stuff that was something very similar. Lots of it, several hundred hours. I do think it helped me to relax and pay attention better, and I did get an A&P experience out of it. But all of that could also have been easily done for free with a good mindfulness practice, say Mahasi.

Brewer's fMRI feedback is very interesting, specifically targeted deep in the brain to the PCC, that would be very cool, surface EEG can't touch that.
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