Meditation Training Improves Brain–Computer Interface Performance

Researchers are looking for ways to improve brain-computer interface performance, and one potential method is through meditation.

“I am developing noninvasive brain-computer interface techniques that can ‘read’ humans’ mind and control a device. For such techniques, we use noninvasive brain wave signals. The approach may be applied to most individuals in our society but has challenges that in some human subjects, it is slow or hard to learn such ‘mind-control’ technique,” said study author Bin He, a professor of bioengineering at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the NIH Neural Interfacing Training Program.

“Research in my lab suggested an 8-week mindful meditation experience can help humans to learn and improve the skills for ‘mind-control.’ We conducted this research in order to address the question that if a brief meditation would have an immediate effect instead of an 8-weeks meditation class.”

The researchers previously conducted a study to investigate whether short-term mindfulness meditation training could enhance brain-computer interface performance. They enrolled participants in an 8-week course of simple meditation techniques and compared their performance to a control group that did not receive any meditation training. The participants were then tasked with learning to control a brain-computer interface system by using their thoughts to navigate a cursor on a computer screen.

The study found that participants who received meditation training showed significant advantages in brain-computer interface control compared to those without prior meditation training. The researchers also observed differences in brain activity between the two groups, with the meditation group demonstrating enhanced capability in modulating their alpha rhythm, which is the activity pattern used by the brain-computer interface system to control the cursor.

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