The other day I had a chance to play with this gadget/toy called Mindflex. Mattel put it out last year, and it's pretty cool, however, this is not a product review. I'll be getting to my point in a moment. First, I have to explain how the game works. As you can see in the photo below, there is a headset that you put on which is a very simple EEG machine. It measures your brain activity through a sensor over your left eye.
Your brain activity is used to power a fan which lifts a light-weight ball into the air. The speed of the fan, and thus the height of the ball, depends upon your concentration. Once you figure this out, there is a knob you can turn to move the ball around a track and put it through hoops and other obstacles. It was really fun and interesting to see what kind of brain activity raised the ball. Besides ball height, there is also a meter on the left side of the contraptions that measures brain activity and lights up to 5 or 6 lights depending on your concentration.
I played around with MindFlex for only about half an hour, but I was able to achieve quite a lot of success in that time and also learn some things.
The manual gave suggestions for increasing concentration and lowering it, but said that each person was different. So I tried all kinds of different things. I tried thinking different thoughts to see how they measured differently on brain activity. I.e. happy v. sad, math problems v. singing a song in my head. It was very interesting, and I would like more time to experiment with this. The biggest thing I noticed was that when I went inward and tried to remember a kinesthetic experience, such as what it feels like to swim in cool water or even the sweaty, adrenaline rush of playing soccer--the ball lowered every time. However, when I started to talk to myself about what all this meant and what I should think or do next, the ball levitated to its highest point.
This surprised me at first, but it makes absolute sense. When I was thinking about kinesthetic stuff, or rather, imagining using one or more of my senses, I wasn't thinking per se, I was in my body. It very quickly changed my state and my mental activity. We know that brain waves change in hypnosis, but putting hypnosis aside, (because it can be a strong word for some people), any time you access your senses, you change state.
This made me wonder if there are any studies on brain activity during labor. I always say that we birth from a very primal place, mentally--and I would love to see a study on how brain activity differs for natural, undisturbed birth versus more interventive birth where women are forced back and forth into their conscious mind. And which states have better outcomes. Although I already can intuit the answers to this, it would be cool to see a study.
I know I said this wasn't a product review, but it was so fun to play with this game, I would highly recommend it. It's great for kids, too. In fact, I think that's the market for which it was originally intended.