Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tricorder and iPhone Applications

Two articles and a presentation on contribute to wholesome image of a biofeedback future:

Tricorder is a reference to Star Trek body scanners used by the doctor. This device comes from NASA.

Featured is a $30 hardware interface for a stethoscope that displays an audiogram of a heartbeat. The image is included in the article.

The next level of intuitive interfaces are evolving in open source and wearable. Augmented reality projected during soul searching giving another sense of your being?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Background and History of Biofeedback

Chapter 10, The Birth of Biofeedback, taken by permission from Biofeedback, Mind-Body Medicine, and the Higher Limits of Human Nature by Donald Moss, Ph.D. is a very worthwhile and available at

Neal Miller is termed a "Founding Father of Biofeedback" and the site is packed with articles and information collected by the committee that honored his work with this site:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cognitive Behaviors and SAD

The video looks at resources and techniques for managing your own SAD. Guess what helps - charting, recording, noting, responses, patterns, triggers, and feedback of all sorts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Field Develops in Leaps and Bounds

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've been busy trying to lick atrial fibrillation. While diet, exercise, monitoring, and drugs have helped, I'm going for the current cure, ablation.

Radical, to be sure, but it avoids pitfalls like continuing chemical care, an increasing inability to reset to regular heartbeat using exercise, the risks of stroke, tissue alterations with time and a really poor mental state I experience with the inevitable cardiac insufficiency.

Wii calendars now record my daily irregular heartbeat simply by putting the "foot" stamp so that it touches the date. When rhythm is normal the simple twist to indicate positive or negative feelings about Wii Fit Age are to the right of the calendar date.

The Wii Fit daily Body Test is my most regular recording tool and looking for ways to indicate a summary of other gathered information is on my mind. The amount of time consummed to post this little piece of information while getting a weight and Wii Fit Age from the Body Test is high. Now that my system has the Homebrew Channel, I hope to find faster ways of collecting data.

Browsing biofeedback proved to be a rich resource that I'd like to revisit. You might too!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wild Goose Chasing and Monitoring It...

Home care for the elders in the family led to an exploratory expedition. Interesting sensors, networks, monitoring, and business models out there, for sure.

Life Source Wireless Activity Monitor XL caught my eye. Available at CVS and Amazon, it is a pedometer with wireless data connectivity to your computer. There are other products, or were other products:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What to Track and How to Track It

From Wired Magazine, in their style, just what needs to be said. Biofeedback isn't about brainwaves necessarily, it is about keeping track and the ability to review, notice, and than choose to alter patterns.

There is a vast universe of personal metrics to capture. Start with these:

Vital Statistics
height // weight // age // birth weight // birth length

Vital Signs
body temperature // pulse // blood pressure // respiratory rate

visual acuity // auditory acuity

glucose level // blood-alcohol level // hemoglobin level // HDL level // LDL level // liver enzyme level

Women Only
estrogen levels // menstrual cycle

Men Only
testosterone levels // sperm count

caloric intake // hours of sleep // exercise duration // exercise intensity // lactate threshold // steps taken in day // mood // medication taken // hours worked // cigarettes smoked

and wait, there is more:

A piece of wisdom from Nike research:
"But that simple, dual-variable tracking can lead to novel insights, especially once you have so many people feeding in data: The most popular day for running is Sunday, and most Nike+ users tend to work out in the evening. After the holidays, there's a huge increase in the number of goals that runners set; this past January, they set 312 percent more goals than the month before.

"There's something even deeper. Nike has discovered that there's a magic number for a Nike+ user: five. If someone uploads only a couple of runs to the site, they might just be trying it out. But once they hit five runs, they're massively more likely to keep running and uploading data. At five runs, they've gotten hooked on what their data tells them about themselves."

But wait, there is still more:

This is why BeingSense is a wannabe:

As soon as I saw the name of Kevin Kelly (Cool Tools and much more) starbursts appeared on the horizon. Worth the trip and happy to supply the introductory link. You're welcome.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Twittering Biofeedback Mostly Shakey Results

Change continues to accelerate. Keeping up consumes while energizing. Twitter offers an age reflecting signpost. People's conversation says a lot about how well they are keeping up or giving up. It seems to give a "Wii Age" reading. You know, taking into account your real age and how you responded to a couple of tests, this is how old you are the Wii Fit Body Test results. I still use some of the balance exercises, but tracking my Wii age seems to provide a processed biofeedback record that is the primary reason I turn on the unit these days.

Anyway, Twitter fascinates me. I've been using Twitter search for sometime, mostly to see what sorts of Tweets contain the word "biofeedback". There is information to be discovered through processing. Teaching uses of the platform demonstrate the potential for learning in other ways. Another tool that will change community communication.

Next search idea is to take a look at interest in biofeedback loops related to microorganisms living with us. Continually astounded by the shear mass and range of organisms humans consist of inspire respect for antibiotics as potent medications I'd prefer to avoid. Getting healthier is getting a better crew on board. We live in a biofeedback loop.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keeping Track - Being AwareJust

Just noticed last post was too long ago. My attention was on finger temperature sensing and handwarming. Paying attention, a sustained narrow focus, foiled my intent of maintaining a regular posting habit. Thanks to a New York Magazine article, "The Benefits of Distraction and Overstimulation", we're back on track.

Here's a teaser:

"The most promising solution to our attention problem, in Gallagher’s mind, is also the most ancient: meditation. Neuroscientists have become obsessed, in recent years, with Buddhists, whose attentional discipline can apparently confer all kinds of benefits even on non-Buddhists. (Some psychologists predict that, in the same way we go out for a jog now, in the future we’ll all do daily 20-to-30-minute “secular attentional workouts.”) Meditation can make your attention less “sticky,” able to notice images flashing by in such quick succession that regular brains would miss them. It has also been shown to elevate your mood, which can then recursively stoke your attention: Research shows that positive emotions cause your visual field to expand. The brains of Buddhist monks asked to meditate on “unconditional loving-kindness and compassion” show instant and remarkable changes: Their left prefrontal cortices (responsible for positive emotions) go into overdrive, they produce gamma waves 30 times more powerful than novice meditators, and their wave activity is coordinated in a way often seen in patients under anesthesia."

Gallagher stresses that because attention is a limited resource—one psychologist has calculated that we can attend to only 110 bits of information per second, or 173 billion bits in an average lifetime—our moment-by-moment choice of attentional targets determines, in a very real sense, the shape of our lives. Rapt’s epigraph comes from the psychologist and philosopher William James: “My experience is what I agree to attend to.” For Gallagher, everything comes down to that one big choice: investing your attention wisely or not. The jackhammers are everywhere—iPhones, e-mail, cancer—and Western culture’s attentional crisis is mainly a widespread failure to ignore them."

Early in research on biofeedback involved book reviews. One set from BioFeedback Without the Machines: A Strategy for Living (Paperback) by George E Soroka (Author) sticks.

Product Description Review
Biofeeback Without Machines helps readers to learn to live without stress and build their life to success. ""Biofeedback without Machines means that we can become the instruments of dramatic and positive change in our own lives. The most significant thing we learn from biofeedback is that we can reclaim the creative process as our own, and in this way develop a truly effective strategy for living based on self determination."" Mike Marchetti, Ph. D. Physicist

The first customer review:
"The technique this book teaches can be summed up in two words: "just notice." That's it. So, if you are looking for technique, there it is. You don't need to buy the book." sharply contrasted with that of the third reviewer:
"This book is a great disappointment. One would guess from the title that this book has something to do with biofeedback without machines. Wrong. This book mainly deals with the author's theories of life. I did not particularly care." made a mental mark that still influences what appears here. Biofeedback, or the generalized content statement beneath the masthead, depends upon personal awareness. While brainwaves are a dramatic view of what is going inside your head, it is certainly not the only doorway. Pay good attention to yourself.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Keeping Track of Yourself - Easy Works

Wii Fit data logging is a motivator for me. A body measurement is a daily goal and the results are habit forming. The system got a daily Yoga habit started, but I rarely go back to the balance board for a check up anymore, the internal check in is more meaningful. The need for a notebook for daily logging contrasts with the automatic record-keeping of the Wii.

One of my weight/BMI graphs:

During the blank period, it was easy to keep a weight log. The variation during the day fluctuated but a pattern was easy to see. With the Wii, an explanation for the 2-3 pound shifts at the same time each day are not easy to explain and cross-checking with the digital scale is hard to reconcile. Point is the long term patterns are most important and you can't see them if you don't keep track.

There are lots of ways to keep notes and how to record feedback of the instruments available is a major issue. I think your cell phone will be a bigger help in the near future, but LifeHacker suggests some other resources until the future arrives. See: Six Easy Ways to Graph Your Life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dr. Scholls - Better Than Wii?

Experience F-Scan technology from Dr. Scholls Custom Fit Orthopedic Center, it is an amazing presentation of pressure sensitive technology.

You can find a location of this device nearest you and read more about this device:

The pad is like a Wii except it has 2,000 pressure sensors and software capabilities to match. You get a really interesting real time display, complete instructions, and a free recommendation for an orthodic to match your needs.

You know how the game machines in stores always attract the kids and are hardly even empty? I don't understand why this device, like the blood pressure machines located in nearly every pharmacy don't have a line. Biofeedback is personal information? People reluctant to take their shoes off in public?

Do it - biofeedback on a budget!

P.S. Use your camera to collect the images for your biofeedback files!

Monday, April 20, 2009

On-Board Biofeedback

"It's a modern medical twist on an ancient art. Scientists at Draper Laboratory, in Cambridge, MA, are developing a nanosensor that could be injected into the skin, much like tattoo dye, to monitor an individual's blood-sugar level."

The Draper Laboratories Press release, and the Technology Review article quoted above.

Philips is looking for feedback as they explore embedded applications:

"The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers."

Slightly less intimate, MyHeart focuses on health apparel.

Consider for a moment pulse monitoring, also "on-board", and the essential value of biofeedback. Attention is focused by all these techniques and recording is available by photograph, notes, and even data capture. What is the significance of realtime display? Are these biofeedback futures simply an improved mood ring - more chatter and data in our environment when opening the door to benefits depends upon a stillness of the mind.

Friday, April 17, 2009

But Can You Measure the Pleasure?

The page name says it all:

Availability of sensors and monitoring equipment will shrink everything in size and prices will fall. You will be able to monitor, display, and record whatever your tastes or desires dictate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cheap GSR and Temperature Biofeedback

Galvanic Skin Resistance and Temperature changes are digitally displayed as a resistance on the $1.99 Cen-Tech Multimeter. The size of stainless steel clamp ($.99/5) can be adjusted for fit and the NTC thermistor (white tubular object on index finger, $.68) is glued to the clamp and held securely in contact with the finger. The switch is sandwiched between two disposable contact lense containers. Safety warnings on the meter say not to let the probes have contact the skin so I made sure the very low voltage would be at the fingers and wouldn't go across the heart.

I have been able to raise my fingertip temperature. The resistance of the thermister actually drops with a temperature increase so the number goes down. The galvanic skin response fluctuates a great deal and there is a need for some contact gel. Plain water with a little salt works well but evaporation influences the reading. There are recipes for gels on the web. Maybe you know something that works as well as the hospital/lab grade stuff. Let me know.

Eventually this probe will hook up to one of my Arduino boards and the data will be collected, saved and displayed along with other biofeedback data. The record keeping is an important aspect and I am keeping some notes to document the components used as well as the personal measurement variations. Much more on this later.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Polygraph Project from Cornell Students

If you are interested in working on building your own biofeedback devices, you may have seen this page. I just found it. This is the first reference seen that uses air temperature to monitor respiration. A bluetooth optical mouse for $10 started me in another direction you'll see appear here shortly. Air temperature patterns from a mask really delivers a lot of data for storage and interpretation. The other feature of this page is the circuit detail.

Here is a little of the introduction on the page:

"A polygraph (often and incorrectly called a 'lie detector') is a machine which plots in real time several human biological signals such as pulse rate, galvanic skin resistance (GSR), blood pressure, and breathing rate. This machine, in conjunction with a certified examiner, is then used to analyze a subject's stress during interrogation with the intent of distinguishing truth from lying. These machines can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. We attempted to build one for $50.

"For our design project we constructed a polygraph which measured pulse rate, GSR, and breathing rate, and performed a discrete cosine transform (DCT) on the subject's voice in the hope of measuring a deviation in the fundamental frequency (another indicator of stress). The measurements were sampled, analyzed, and transmitted to a computer for further analysis using an ATMEL AVR Mega32 microcontroller."

Absorb it all!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Future of Personal Biomonitoring

Methods of displaying and keeping track of the information gathered are as important as ease of use. While embedded sensor systems like tatoos are certainly on the horizon, pulse monitors like those of Polar or Omron are nearly as convenient. There are a number of different heart rate monitors available that connect with your computer and share information for recordkeeping. Simple paper and pencil systems can also work and examples will follow along with forms you can copy and use.

Blood pressure and pulse recording systems are even more sophisticated. I bought up a $35 dollar unit that automatically takes a reading, features two recording memories, and comes with a USB cable and software that tracks and displays data with a great deal of flexibility.

Two slightly more sophisticated blood pressure monitoring systems:

and looking market ready and displayed very well:

Friday, April 10, 2009

DIY Biofeedback Using GSR

My father's corner workbench was largely unmonitored and unsupervised with little safety instruction. We learned by doing and avoiding the wall outlet. The multimeter settings for reading skin resistance were found by trial and error and my first contact with electronic variables. Searching out GSR galvanic skin response (Wikipedia) possibilities for portable biofeedback gear, I was reminded of a discovery - pressure on the metal probes would influense the meter reading.

Building stable contacts with available materials, mostly rubber bands and paper clips in the pre-velcro age, was much less interesting than exploring the difference various liquids and mixtures made when applied to the skin. If only some instruction in controlling variables had been given I'd have a better idea about that critical age dependant piece of science instruction.

I'll be detailing my more informed experiments with GSR but wanted to capture some of the leads that are informing my investigations:

A new kit available at, The Truth Wristband, would cost about $54 dollars shipped to me, but is ready to assemble with a TRUTH laser cut transparent plate. These Maker items are fun kits with a lot of support and this one replaces a meter with color LEDs to cut costs.

The Scientology E-Meter (Wikipedia) is much more expensive and may not be available to you, but it is a GSR device that depends upon the Wheatstone Bridge (circuit secrets, diagram).

My plan is to modify the inexpensive Harbor Freight Cen-Tech Multimeter which has already been combined with a thermistor for learning fingertip temperature control. More to follow on that as soon as I find the nice photograph that details use and construction.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Habits and Willpower Related?

As seen in Lifehacker, another body-mind biofeedback exercise that fits our mold, er, model.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Paper Forms and Data Collection Sheets

A handy, because it fits in your pocket, adaptable, because you customize it to your needs, paper recording tool, highly recommended:

Forms and organizational aids of every kind. The must see site for paper forms:

Here are basic health information forms, one for adults, one for children:

Toward a Claim Instead of a Disclaimer

Biofeedback and biometrics have improved my health. A balanced sense of myself and a growing record of various measurements have proven valuable in setting goals. I talk with my physicians when I have questions. I'm not a doctor and while I have gotten second opinions on important issues, tend to follow a path western medicine recognizes. You should too.

Biofeedback is powerful. It fits into medicine in ways that are increasingly important and likely to be considered as our health care industry evolves. Research is important guide to my own considerations and I want to share this fact: Diet/nutrition and exercise/fitness are more significant health improvement variables than biofeedback.

In the case of disease, biofeedback might be a part of a treatment plan in a supervised medical program. Improvements to a condition would be much more likely to occur with focus on diet and fitness applied after primary interventions which might include surgery, medication, or a variety of therapies appropriate to the condition.

Claims aside, the following page from a personal biofeedback trainer might give you greater insight into benefits:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Links of Interest

Amazon page with reviews of an infrared pulse sensor to coordinate breathing and relaxation:

Radio Shack sold a Galvanic Skin Response meter in 1994. This is part of the instruction manual:
Automated data recording using dedicated devices some of which interface with your computer.

Biofeedback on a Budget

Want a safe, convenient, simple, and handy biofeedback routine?

Learning to influence fingertip temperature is biofeedback "trick" many start with because temperature is an easy and cheap parameter to collect. You may own or can buy inexpensive devices, from digital thermometers to liquid crystal "dots" that allow you to explore hand and finger temperature control. Relaxation and the techniques leading to success are not easy and simple and evolve with practice.

The practice, use and even building of the other devices will appear later, but the simple technique of placing your fingertips on your neck and comparing the relative temperature of neck and fingertips is the most powerful "Wow" experience of biofeedback available.

Try it, study it, use it.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Wikipedia is as good a reference and ends up as the top reference in most searches for "biofeedback". There wasn't a Google when I hooked up with the subject and while engaging, the internet has not proven as fruitful as personal practices - the source of the material you'll find in subsequent posts.

The Google Results for Biofeedback on April 3, 2009:

Biofeedback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- 3 visits - Mar 23
Biofeedback is a form of alternative medicine that involves measuring a subject's quantifiable bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, ... - 61k - Cached - Similar pages -
What is Biofeedback? description, history, uses and how biofeedback works. - 18k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback: Using your mind to improve your health -
Biofeedback uses your mind to control your body and improve your health. - 36k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Network
The Biofeedback Network - On-Line Biofeedback Resources. - 17k - Cached - Similar pages -
5. - Biofeedback Products and Resources for ...
Low-cost Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Products for Practitioners and Home Users. Secure online store, devices and software for biofeedback and more!

Show map of 1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA 93940 - 27k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Home, Biofeedback Machines, The electromyogram (EMG ...
Biofeedback operates on the notion that we have the innate ability and potential to influence the automatic functions of our bodies through the exertion of ... - 15k - Cached - Similar pages -
Home - Association For Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback
National organization representing those with an interest in biofeedback. - 26k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback, What is biofeedback?Biofeedback is a technique in which people are trained to improve their health by learning to control certain internal ... - 31k - Cached - Similar pages -
Biofeedback Equipment | Neurofeedback Equipment | Mind Machines ...
Allied Products/Biofeedback Instrument Corporation provides outstanding alternative health products, medical products and services since 1979. - 59k - Cached - Similar pages -
Video results for biofeedback
Coping With Stress - Biofeedback: Self-Mastery ...
89 min

Biofeedback Training at East Carolina University
1 min 42 sec

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