Neurotechnology is a term used to define any technology which has a fundamental influence on the way in which people understand the brain and certain aspects of consciousness, thought and higher-order activities. When these technologies are applied in environments such as the classroom or the workplace, they are designed to improve and repair the brain for various functions. Brain imaging is a particularly important aspect of neurotechnology, because it enables researchers and practitioners to directly monitor the brain’s activities. Neurotechnology provides neurofeedback, allowing brain activity to be monitored in real-time and offering countless opportunities when it comes to addressing addictions, regulating behaviour and improving overall performance.
The field of neurotechnology is one that is expanding rapidly, involving brain-machine interfaces, neurostimulation, neuromonitoring and implantable devices which not only augment nervous system activity but also expand its capabilities. Specific technologies include EEG, PEMF, tDCS and algorithmically generated or functional music.
Types of devices used in EEG Neurotechnology:
An EEG stands for an electroencephalogram, which is a recording of brain activity. During an EEG test, small metal sensors (electrodes) are attached to the scalp. Brains cells are constantly communicating with one another through electrical signals, and are active all the time. The electrodes measure and transmit the electrical signals which are produced as brain cells send messages to each other. These electrical signals are recorded by a machine, where the brain activity is shown as a series of wavy lines.
The EEG recording can then be examined by a doctor in order to see if there is anything unusual or abnormal. An EEG may be used to help diagnose and monitor various brain conditions and disorders. It can also help with identifying the cause of certain symptoms, such as seizures or memory problems. An EEG is one of the key diagnostic tests for detecting and investigating epilepsy, a condition which causes repeated seizures.
Essentially, an EEG determines changes in brain activity that might be useful in identifying any unusual or abnormal symptoms that could be indicative of an issue, which is why it can be used to diagnose and investigate a broad range of problems. These might include a brain tumour, brain dysfunction from a variety of causes, brain trauma from head injury, inflammation of the brain, stroke or mood and sleep disorders.
PEMF, or Pulsed Electromagnetic Field, is a technology which emits electromagnetic waves at various frequencies in order to stimulate and encourage the body’s natural recovery process. This technology is used for pulsed magnetic therapy, otherwise known as low field magnetic stimulation, where electromagnetic fields are used for healing.
The process involves generating and then directing powerful energy waves towards injured or damaged areas of the patient’s body. These pulsed waves pass quickly through the cells in the targeted region, causing the electrons inside these cells to spin much more rapidly that usual. It is this increased spinning in a cell’s electrons which restores the cell’s energy (scientifically known as the transmembrane potential), whilst also allowing the cell to stabilise and adjust so that it is optimal for survival (homeostasis). PEMF therapies, therefore, use bursts of low-level electromagnetic radiation in order to heal damaged tissues and bone, relieve injury-related pain, and even stimulate organs.
It is important to note that the level of electromagnetic radiation is completely safe, because the therapeutic frequency of PEMF is similar to frequencies which are encountered in nature. Research has consistently demonstrated that PEMF helps to heal bones faster, reduce arthritis-induced pain and even help with regenerating parts of the liver that have been removed.
tDCS, or Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, is a non-invasive and painless brain stimulation treatment which uses direct electrical currents to stimulate certain parts of the brain. Two electrodes are attached to the scalp, through which a constant and low-intensity current is passed through them in order to modulate and influence neuronal activity.
In recent years, this neuromodulation technique has gained attention because of its potential to treat a number of different brain disorders and conditions. Depending on the location of the electrodes and the level of current which is passed through them, tDCS can be used to either stimulate or calm the brain’s neuron activity in the targeted region.
The electrical current which is used in this tDCS is not strong enough to trigger a rapid change in the brain’s cells, but instead it influences the cell’s ability to stabilise and adjust (achieve homeostasis) in order to sustain optimal survival. The electrical stimulation can either by positive (anodal), or negative (cathodal). With positive stimulation the electrode is used to excite the brain’s neuron activity, but with negative stimulation the electrode is used to inhibit the brain’s neuron activity.
Algorithmically Generated Music/Functional Music
Algorithmically generated or functional music uses artificial intelligence in order to generate and produce sounds which evoke specific responses in the brain. Research has demonstrated that this technology can help with decreasing anxiety, relieving insomnia and improving overall mental performance. The music is composed by AI and provides auditory brain stimulation, which is a mechanism that uses brain entrainment.
Brain entrainment refers to synchronizing the frequencies of the brain with the rhythm of periodic external stimuli, which are most commonly auditory (sounds). The brain has a strong response to auditory stimulation, and music can alter or induce certain neural activities. By influencing these neural activities, a number of benefits can be achieved such an altered mood, decreased anxiety, pain relief and improved focus.
AI algorithms are therefore used to compose music which include the various auditory components which generate a particular influence on the brain’s activities, whilst simultaneously creating unique and pleasing sounds. Brain entrainment, through the application of algorithmically generated/functional music, has been explored extensively for its therapeutic benefits for a variety of concerns, conditions and complaints.