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How Mindball works
As Seen on TV
- BBC – Children's BBC's Brainjitsu series
- Channel 4 - The Paul O'Grady Show
- Channel 5 - The Gadget Show
- ABC TV – Regis & Kelly
- CBC News – Sunday Night
News & Events
Mindball at Confex 2012 - ExCel London (Stand P547) 6-8 March 2012 If you would like to see Mindball for yourself then come along to Confex 2012 at ExCel London. We will be on Stand P547 in the "Something Special" area. We look forward to welcoming you at this event and to showing you how Mindball can help attract visitors to your event or conference.
Could schools struggling to improve GCSE scores help their students with 'mental toughness' training? July 2009 The Guardian reports on a project led by the University of Hull to see if pupils in Merseyside can boost their grades by bolstering their mental toughness.
BBC chooses Mindball for Brainjitsu February 2008 CBBC, the children's arm of the BBC, chooses Mindball for the "black belt" decider in its amazing series Brainjitsu.
Enfield students learn to concentrate with “brain football” May 2007 Enfield students and teachers are the first in the world to use Mindball to improve their concentration and relaxation skills.
A quick bit of science
Controlling devices with the mind sounds like science fiction but it is actually a technology that is available today. Perhaps you heard about or visited the London Science Museum exhibition (NEURObotics…the future of thinking? ) that showed the latest advances in this area and where Mindball was one of the star attractions (if not, you will be interested in this video produced by The Daily Telegraph)?
Mindball is based on a technology called EEG (electroencephalography) feedback, which means monitoring the level of electrical brain activity in the brain and showing the resulting graph (or other output) to the person being monitored. It's the brain equivalent of a cardiogram. Monitoring with Mindball uses a simple, velcro-fastened headband, so there is nothing invasive or unpleasant about the process at all.
The principle of EEG in humans was first demonstrated in 1924 by Prof. Hans Berger working at the University of Jena in Germany. Berger was the first to describe the different waves or rhythms present in the brain, such as the alpha wave rhythm (8-12 Hertz, or cycles per second), also known as Berger's wave, and its suppression (substitution by the faster beta waves) when the subject opens her or his eyes.
Today several different bands of wave activity are used in EEG feedback: delta (0-4 Hz), theta (4-8Hz), alpha (8-12 Hz), SMR (12-16Hz) and Beta (above 16Hz). For a brief introduction to these bands and the states associated with them, see here.
Further work on the role of alpha waves in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation took place in the 1960s, and the concept was popularised by Joe Kamiya in an article published in Psychology Today in 1968. Kamiya's experiment demonstrated that using feedback it is possible to recognise the alpha state and, for some people, to enter that state on command. Further work in the 1960s by M. Barry Sterman (now professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles) working in the range 12 to 15 Hz showed that the ability to control these frequencies appeared to reduce the likelihood of epileptic seizures. And work by Joel F. Lubar showed that EEG feedback can be an important tool in helping with attention disorders.
A wide range of behavioural benefits
Mindball is not a medical treatment and it is programmed to work with specific wave bands that encourage relaxation and focus. However, the potential for EEG generally is quite fascinating. NASA, for example, has been using EEG feedback as a technique to train greater attentiveness in its astronauts and pilots for many years. Psychologist David Vernon, now at Canterbury Christ Church University in England, announced results in January 2003 that showed that his group of subjects were able to increase their recall from 71 percent of the words in a memory test to almost 82 percent after just eight EEG feedback sessions. And a study published the same year by researchers at Imperial College London based on 100 students at the Royal College of Music, showed that those students who had received EEG feedback training made significantly fewer mistakes in their examination pieces and achieved significant improvements in areas such as musical understanding, stylistic precision and imaginative interpretation.
There has also been work done with younger school children. In a research project published in October 2005 in the British Psychological Society's magazine "Educational and Child Psychology" , Melissa Foks put forward evidence gathered in a South London primary school that students given EEG feedback training showed significant behaviour gains over the no-treatment control group. Based on a group of 23 children aged between seven and ten, 12 were given EEG feedback training and the others acted as a control group. The children in the first group were given twenty half hour sessions once a week and at the end of it their behaviour had improved dramatically.
Types of EEG feedback training
There are various types of EEG feedback training available, of which Mindball is probably the simplest to use and the most fun. It can be set up in a couple of minutes, there is no computer to attach or programme to learn or configure and the users quickly "get" how to train themselves, either with a teacher or mentor present or on their own.
Besides these advantages, the beauty of Mindball is that you won't need to tell people to take part – they will want to do that of their own accord!
There are other EEG feedback training devices available as well, that monitor the EEG in a wider variety of locations on the head and across a greater spectrum of frequencies. This allows you to develop much more tailored programmes for specific issues, for example, children with Attention Deficit Disorder typically have too much slow brainwave activity in the front of the brain and autistic children can have too much fast brainwave activity.
A study by Dr Vincent J. Monastra of the FPI Attention Disorders Clinic in New York State, published in the December 2002 issue of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, indicates that out of the 100 children between 6-19 years old with ADHD, the 51 who received weekly sessions of EEG biofeedback training for a year were able to reduce or eliminate their medication - and maintained the same level of improvement in focus and concentration as when they had been on Ritalin drug therapy. Monastra says of this work: "At the conclusion of treatment, all of those who underwent biofeedback were able to cut their medications by at least half - and still enjoy the improvements they got from the drugs. And about 40% were able to discontinue their medication. The kids who didn't get biofeedback needed to continue medication to sustain improvements."
The techniques used for this sort of training are software-based and run on standard computer equipment. Vivifeye, working with Thought Technology, a leader in the field of clinical EEG equipment, can help you select the most appropriate "protocols" and supply the equipment you will need for EEG monitoring, the software that analyses the EEG data and the various software training games. We can also provide on-going support with training programmes and results analysis.
To talk about the wider potential of EEG feedback for specific training programmes, please contact Sean Gough on 01582 821 421.