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Part 2 Mind Machines and environments

copyright Rob Kall 1999

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Mind machines:
There are five major forms of mind machines, as listed below.
Sound
Light
Vibration
Environment
CES

These five use several different strategies to change the brain and the person.

1: Frequency Response: Whether using pulsing sounds or vibrations or strobing/flashing lights, the idea is to mimic brainwave frequencies associated with different states of mind. The dame different frequencies are also aimed for when doing EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback.
 
Theta (4-8 Hz) is creative and dreamy, with lots of hypnogoguic imagery, dredging up repressed memories
 
Alpha (8-12 Hz)is relaxing, associated with meditation, unfocused attention and mindfulness
 
SMR (13-15 Hz) stands for Sensori Motor Rhythm and is associated with alert, focused relaxation, with very quiet muscles.. A cat produces SMR when it silently, with perfect stillness, watches a mouse hole.
 
BETA (15-22 Hz) Alert, energized and focused.
The mind machines stimulate at these frequencies, or have programs which start at one frequency and ramp up or down, with the goal of moving the user in the direction of the program.
 
Higher priced units have more pre-set programs and are more user-programmable. The top of the line units are computer interfaceable. Some will work wimultaneously with audio tape or CD players.
 
Some biofeedback providers combine the biofeedback with these mind machines to boost the effects.
 
One unique company is Flexyx, founded by Len Ochs, Ph.D. It started out using sound and light which was driven at the the same frequency as the dominant brainwave detected by an EEG biofeedback machine linked into the system. Then th sound was eliminated and the light was drastically dimmed. Finally,they eliminated the light altogether and they are looking at the effects of the minute electrical fields associated with the lights. The technology has had, according to its proponents, some dramatic effects on cases which did not respond to anything else. From what I understand, one wealthy husband of a fibromyalgia patient who respended very well tothis technnology has funded research to the tune of over a million dollars. Stu Donaldson, a psychologist in Calgary Canada is the recipient of $500,000 of that money. Stu has also done some very powerful work with RSI injuries using multi-channel kinesiological sEMG.
 
Manufacturers of these devices include:
Comptronics: Owner David Siever
Photosonix: owner Ray Wolf
MindGear owner George Szeles
 
(MindGear and Photosonix systems look alike. The two owners were partners and split up.)
 
 Environments and chairs.
There are a limited number of this kind of product on the market. I’ve seen units that range from chairs with simple vibrating pillows to full rooms with temperature, light and sound controls.
 
 
Symmetron Chair

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I requested literature from several companies. I’ve only received the one so far (two say they are in the middle of making new literature). It’s the Symmetron chair. It has vibro-acoustic sound pillows, plus a kinetic element so it moves in a kind of a circle up and down, like a ferris wheel. The manufacturer could not tell me of anyone in the Miami areas who could demonstrate one.

Here's some sales copy on it:

"This is the current state-of-the-art vestibular stimulator the type of stimulation for which the Graham Potentializer became famous. A comfortable reclining chair gently moves in a circular wave-like motion, suspending the user in a pleasurable boundary-dissolving state. The Symmetron exercises the brain’s vestibular system, conferring benefits to the sense of balance, and deeply relaxing the body in a way that cannot be fully appreciated until you experience it."

Alpha Chamber

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Another one of these products which I like (and used to own) is called the Alpha Chamber, click here for more info manufactured by S.E.E.. It looks like a giant egg, and is the chair used in the interview scene in the movie Men In Black. It encloses the user in a kind of womb, with vibroacoustic cushions. This product is usually sold with a large "library" of audio and video tapes and CDs, plus a large Monitor, stereo and VCR, as a turnkey system. It can be fitted with biofeedback sensors fairly easily.
There have been some custom designed systems in various facilities-- domes with amazing sound and light included, dry flotation tanks for dry restricted environmental stimulation

There are a number of other companies which make chairs or tables with acoustic vibration cushions, which look somewhat like the Symmetron, but without themovement and the pedestal which contains the movement machinery. These May also offer VR virtual reality glasses integrated with the sound systems. Good VR glasses can cost $3500 or more. These cairs range in price from aboput $3000 to $25,000 (alpha chamber loaded with library, sound and video system and large monitor.)

 

C.E.S. Cerebral Electrical Stimulation. This technology is at the edge, and in some forms, perhaps all, require FDA approval and prescription. There are some units which are available which are not FDA registrered. These devices, often with electrodes attached to each ear lobe, will produce an almost instant mellow, relaxed state. This techology is commonly used in Russia and other eastern European countries. I wouldn’t recommend it, though it can be powerful. It’s too far off the beaten track, even among other devices which are pretty far out.
 
Liabilities of these machines:
I should mention that some people believe that sound and light machines should also be FDA regulated. One company, Synetic Systems, making health related claims, was shut down by the FDA. It now is still in operation, but only sells out side the US. I do feel that these devices are for the most part safe. There is some risk that the flashing lights could set off seizures in epileptics. I understand from the manufacturers that this risk is very low.

There is very little research on these technologies, but they are "cool" and they do seem to produce palpable results for many users. I suggest you have a few of these to provide as "toys," which may prove useful to some of those who you serve.   Be aware though that in some people, the frequencies do not produce the desired results. Still in all, i think there is a place for these units.