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Where did brain sensing technology come from?

There are many different ways to measure what’s going on in your brain – you may have heard of some of them: fMRI, fNIRS, PET, MEG, etc.

EEG was the first. It stands for electroencephalography. It’s also the least invasive – it measures the electrical activity of your brain from outside your head and tracks that data in real-time.

It’s history involves dozens of scientists and physicians pushing it further bit by bit.

In 1875, EEG was discovered by an English physician named Richard Caton. This was the first time anyone pulled back the curtain and got a peek at what the brain was doing.

Caton noticed electrical pulses in the brain of monkeys and rabbits. Then studies in Poland and Russia showed the same thing in dogs.

In 1924, a German doctor named Hans Berger recorded the first EEG in a human.

In the early 1930s, EEG was being used to measure spikes in electrical activity by people suffering from seizures. In World War II, the army would test pilots to see who was at risk for seizures.

In 1957, the American neurophysiologist William Gray Walter used a large number of electrodes to get more specific. He showed that brain rhythms were momentary. Even if a person was healthy, you could peek inside the brain to see how it was responding to different stimuli.

Doctors could now see how the brain was reacting to drugs, both medical and recreational. There’s even a field of study for this with one of those huge words only a scientist could come up with: pharmaco-electroencephalography.

Only in 2004 did the average consumer get access to this technology. The first consumer EEG was OpenEEG, an open source headset that didn’t really have a specific purpose.

Since then, people have been experimenting with using EEG headsets as controllers. Honda is toying with a way to control it’s robot Asimo. And a Japanese company released a headband with cat ears that move depending on a person’s emotions.

In 2010, InteraXon gave people at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver the chance to use their mind to control lights across the country on three Canadian landmarks: the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and Parliament.

While these applications are exciting and fun, EEG is starting to find an everyday use. Training your brain with EEG feedback can give you greater insight and control over what your mind is doing. This can make you calmer, more self aware, more focused, and better able to manage stress.

EEG is getting richer and its readings will continue to get more meaningful, making EEG more and more useful in daily life.

EEG is getting richer and its readings will continue to get more meaningful, making EEG more and more useful in daily life. You’ll be able to train your brain in new and exciting ways. You’ll also be able to control entertainment systems, or use emotionally aware computers, tablets and smartphones.

Maybe we’ll even be able to send messages to each other using our minds, the only limit is our imagination.

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