Atul Sethi of TNN wrote an article in Times of India on mind machine.
Here is the complete article:
Should you try a mind machine?
by Atul Sethi, TNN Nov 7, 2010, 04.05am IST
Deborah Bennett is a college lecturer in the UK. For a decade, she has been religiously using a curious device to relax after the day’s work. It’s a small, hand-held unit, inset with stereo headphones and special glasses with light-emitting diodes. “The interplay of light and sound in the machine lulls my mind to a soothing state,” says Bennett.
“Its regular use has helped me become calm and confident and better equipped to handle tense situations.”
Bennett’s device — referred to as a ‘mind machine’ — has increasingly been used in the West and is now gaining popularity in India.
Udaipur-based Raj Bapna pioneered one of India’s first mind machines in 1993. He says they stimulate various parts of the brain. “Brain waves are of four types — Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta. Beta stage is when brain activity is at its maximum. What mind machines do is take the brain from the Beta stage to the more relaxed Alpha, Theta and Delta levels,” says Bapna.
Most machines use a technique called hemispheric synchronization to achieve this level of relaxation. Developed by the US-based Monroe Institute, the technique uses synchronized sound waves known as bianural beats. Each ear hears these sounds differently, with slightly different frequencies, which leads to a change in brain perception.
Bapna’s machines use a similar technique called Dual Auto Peripheral Suggestion. He says different sounds are deliberately conveyed to each ear “to confuse the conscious mind. The moment it gives up trying to fathom these sound waves, the subconscious mind takes over and the person enters a state of relaxation.”
So why use a mind machine? Many people find that it’s easier to meditate with it. Vandana Upreti, who has used a mind machine for some years, says that the biggest advantage is that “it relieves the mind of thoughts in a shorter time than is possible normally.” This might be good news for those just starting to meditate, but not so much for people at an advanced level.
Newton Kondaveti, a Hyderabad-based doctor and hypnotherapist concurs. “These machines have their uses, although the best way to meditate still remains the natural way. Also, these shouldn’t be used by epileptics or those seeking psychiatric treatment.”
Manufacturers claim that mind machines also improve memory and increase concentration. Preliminary research indicates that external stimulus can increase the performance of the brain to some extent, but this is yet to be validated by extensive research.
Rudresh Vyas, who did a PhD on mind machines at Gujarat’s Sardar Patel University, conducted hour-long sessions on a group of students using a mind machine. On comparing this group’s performance with non-users, he found there was a positive effect of electromagnetic waves and rhythmic sound on learning.
However, he says that “better results can be achieved if other conventional methods such as reaffirmation are combined with the usage of mind machines.”
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