Sudbury·Audio

Laurentian University research group wants to get inside your head

A Laurentian research group has created a wearable technology that will allow users to step inside their own brains.

Technology to help train the brain may aid users with ADHD, anxiety and depression

CBC Sudbury Morning North radio show host Markus Schwabe tested some new brain training technology known as myHeadquarters. It included head gear with sensors, as well as virtual reality goggles. (CBC)

A Laurentian research group has created a wearable technology that will allow users to step inside and visualize their own brain activity.

Mandy Scott and Patrick Palucki from the Laurentian Neuroscience Research Group hope their "myHeadquarters" software can help provide users a greater awareness of how the different regions of the brain relate and interact.

"Greater awareness for how [users] process information and how they engage with the world around them," says Scott, can lead to a "happier and healthier brain." 

Laurentian PhD student Mandy Scott and her colleague Patrick Palucki joined us in studio to demonstrate how you can train your brain to trigger inner peace. Markus Schwabe got to try their head gear with sensors and virtual reality goggles.

The end goal, Scott says, is to enable users to re-create positive states of mind.

So how does the technology see what you're thinking?

"Imagine being shrunk down to the size of a drop," says Scott, "and being placed in the centre of your headspace." 

When attached to the user's head, the software creates a visual representation of mental activity, so users can monitor how they travel between brain states.

Once in the virtual environment, the user can look in any direction and see each region's distinctive images, which can appear as linear or geometric shapes. 

For example, a user may see blue Lotus flowers float through the floor during relaxed or meditative moments.

CEO and Art Director Palucki says the images aren't static, and the team hopes to eventually allow users to customize the imagery in their environment.

The key for the team was provide an experience that would enable users to become better equipped to control or improve particular brain states, like the gamma, which become active during revelatory, or "a-ha moments."

Once a user sees how their brain reacts during particular situations, they can train themselves to recall these states of mind, almost at will.

This ability to notice changes from a creative state to a language-processing state, for example, would give users more control over how they process information.

"When you focus on mindfulness," Scott says, "it eventually leads to a greater sense of well-being."

Scott also hopes that users with clinical symptoms like ADHD, anxiety and depression can also benefit by visualizing their brain activity. 

"Users can be the master of their own journey," she says.

See CBC Sudbury Morning North radio show host Markus Schwabe wearing "fit-bit for the brain."

with files from Kate Rutherford, edited/packaged by Casey Stranges

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