EEG, Anxiety, and Meditation
Sadly, this experimental effort has fallen into disuse following several years’ efforts. Several posters and an honors thesis came out of the work, but we found it was not sensitive to the measures we needed.
Our lab explored the use of very low cost (< $1000), low-density EEG systems in a number of applications in psychotherapy, virtual reality (VR), and brain-computer interfaces (BCI). The work ran along two tracks:
EEG System Development – As this is a new technology, we are currently working to determine the quality and usefulness of the systems available as data on their use in serious research and development is not fully known. We are interested in developing projects that use the equipment to determine emotional states of users, and as devices for neurofeedback. We use a combination of tools to approach these problems: statistical and mathematical models, signal processing, and machine learning techniques in particular.
EEG Biomarkers for Anxiety and Meditation Practice – As a first practical application of this technology to research in clinical psychology, we are using the systems to collect EEG signals on participants while practicing mindfulness meditation. Our goal is to determine if there are active markers of meditation that can provide useful feedback to practitioners and instructors about meditation performance. We are also seeking EEG based measurements that can distinguish people who will most benefit from such practices from those for whom it is less useful.
Frontal Cortical Alpha Asymmetry – We are exploring the usefulness of low-cost systems for measuring and characterizing cortical alpha power asymmetry (imbalance between left- and right-side alpha power). Such imbalances have been associated with both state and trait differences in individuals. State differences include task-orientation and willingness to keep working on impossible tasks; trait differences include proneness to depression and other emotional tendencies.