The Mindful Leader

#11: Optimize Brain Performance using Neurofeedback with Erwin Hartsuiker

November 07, 2022 Reiner Kraft, PhD Season 1 Episode 11
The Mindful Leader
#11: Optimize Brain Performance using Neurofeedback with Erwin Hartsuiker
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of The Mindful Leader podcast with Erwin Hartsuiker, CEO of Mind Media, we will deep dive into Neurofeedback and how it can be used to optimize your brain performance. 

In this episode we explore: 

- What is bio- and neurofeedback? 
- Why should you care? 
- How to train your brain with Neurofeedback
- Tips on improving your resilience

In this episode with Erwin Heartseeker, the CEO of mind media, we're exploring the topic of bio- and Neurofeedback and how this can be used toward achieving a state of high-performance mind. I got to know Erwin A while researching devices for Neurofeedback; we connected, and I was amazed about the technology and the educational aspects they're able to provide, like training classes. Mind media's vision and mission are to develop and market smart medical technology and software focused on human health and performance rather than disease. He founded the company back in 1992. Since then, mind media technology has focused on the neuro-physiological and psycho-physiological effects of human behavior and lifestyle and how this relates to health and performance. The clinical applications are based on health training using physiological feedback, a method which is now used in 1000s of clinics and health centers worldwide. In the podcast, we first learn more about Erwin and how he got motivated to pursue his mission. You will learn some fundamentals of Bio- and Neurofeedback and why you should care about it as a leader. We will give a short overview of different Neurofeedback techniques like qEEG to visualize your brain activity and create a map of your brain in real-time. Or slow cortical potentials or SCPs allow you to enhance your brain's flexibility to switch between different states more effectively to achieve a state of high performance. The results obtained using these different techniques can be used to create a personalized training plan. And with our upcoming high-performance mind labs near Frankfurt this summer, you can take advantage of this technology and take your brain performance to a new high. So if you have never heard about Neurofeedback and what it can do to your brain and mental performance, I encourage you to listen to this episode of the mindful leader podcast. We'll see you there. Hi, this is Reiner, founder of the mindful leader and host of the mindful leader Podcast. Today I have a very special guest, Erwin Hatsuiker. He's the CEO of Mind Media company in the Netherlands, focusing on many new technologies that bridge the gap between - I would describe it as the human mind, the interface to the human mind. And some of you may have heard the term neurofeedback - to train your mind using neuro- and biofeedback. Some of you may not have never heard anything about that. So we'll define these terms later in this meeting and explain why you should care as a tech leader and what you can do with it. Interestingly, when I look back at Erwin's history, he's been with the company from the beginning in the early 90s. So it's a long time; it goes back a long time. And there's probably a lot of interesting stuff that happened during this time. And nowadays, I feel especially these topics, perceived change happening. I would say that in the last one or two years, more and more of these originally designed technologies may be more for the medical context. And more about you will talk about this later, basically treating certain types of diseases. But nowadays, I feel more and more this focus on prevention of being more proactive, and actually focusing also on improving the performance of the mind. And as I incubated myself, or created this program, the High-Performance Mind, a while back for tech leaders to really maximize the potential of their brain on one side - Brain for me is always the hardware. The mind is the software, the operating system that runs on the mind. It makes a lot of sense to upgrade your hardware on one side, ensuring your brain is healthy. And then optimize and debug upgrade your software, which is your mind. And so there are technologies out there to help you in your journey, but not a lot of people know. So that's why I'm really looking forward to this discussion today with Erwin. I"m also glad that he took some time out of his busy schedule so that we can chat and explore this a little bit more. So welcome, Erwin. Yes, thank you, Reiner. Thanks for having me. Sure. I already hinted that you found Mind Media a long time ago. Maybe go a little further back: How do you actually get there in this direction? I've seen that you're similar to me; You have a technical background in engineering; software engineering. Maybe start with a little bit of your story, how you got there, and then maybe fast forward to today. So that people can get to know you a little bit more about you and what motivates you. Yes. Well, so if I go back to the very beginning. A good point to start was the 80s when computers were getting more powerful. And computers were actually things that you could buy in a shop; they wouldn't just be in a university somewhere in the basement, you know, these things with paper rolls and holes in them that they had in the 70s. And I decided then to become a software engineer, software developer. And I was particularly interested at that time in psychology, neuroscience, and consciousness. First of all, that really didn't exist much in the 80s. So I started working for some medical companies that were producing EEG equipment. In 1986, I began to work for a Dutch medical company that made one of the very first neuroimaging systems for 21 channels of EEG. So, neuroimaging means you record a lot of brain activity with, let's say, 19 or 21 channels, and you visualize that in colors, and you map that, so it was very, very early. Then I got into evoked potentials. And everything revolved around the EDI. So I was trained by various companies, and then a lot of work there in the display of the signals signal processing. So that's all really very, very technical. But I soon discovered that my interest was not so much in disease and building very expensive and very complicated medical systems to measure how sick people are, how damaged their brains are, or what was wrong with them. And I found out that my interest is much more in the functional part of our health, not the dysfunctional part. And that's when I discovered the field of psychophysiology. Science is, of course, a part of psychophysiology. And soon also found out that people that you could actually work with these signals, you could learn you could train with them. And you could use them for clinical purposes. And that's, of course, what we're going to talk about today, the fields of bio- and neurofeedback. So, that's how it started. Yeah, that sounds like, particularly going back in the 80s and 90s. I know this was quite an exciting time when you said that computers were actually things you could buy for home. And again, those were in those in the 70s 80s. I remember this very outdated mainframe technology and all that stuff. So that was great when you could get your hand on these computers and start doing some cool stuff. So but the interesting part is that somehow you got from a very deep engineering focus to finding out what can be done with these things that can actually use these technologies around bio- and Neurofeedback to really help people - Basically, focusing more on the health spotless on a disease spread. But maybe, before we even get there, can you give us a brief explanation of biofeedback? Maybe what is Neurofeedback? That would be helpful. Yes. So these terms have been around for quite a long time; they're not entirely new in that sense. They've been known since the 60s and 70s. And essentially, it started in the United States, where people became interested. We can use these signals that we measure. We're talking about complicated signals like the brain, but we're also talking about simpler signals, like the electrical pulses that are generated when muscles are active, the EMG, so muscle activity. And so muscle activities may be a good example with Sergio, Camilla, and others, who started to understand that if you measure the electrical part of the muscle movement when you move a muscle, there's actual electrical activity in the nervous system and the motor neurons that you can measure. And they realize, hey, you can work with this. It's not just for analysis and recording something and then looking at it on a piece of paper, but you can actually use the muscle activity with a computer or a device and have people train with it. So biofeedback is really using physiological signals. And there are many to see what they're doing and train with them. A very simple example, let's say that a muscle has become weak because there has been an accident or some kind of problem, and you want to train that muscle. Well, then you can record the EMG, the signal that shows you how active that muscle is. And while you train, you can see that that signal is going up and down. And it's very helpful to know that you're actually tensing and using the right muscle. If you put electrodes on a certain muscle you want to train, you can target that one muscle and say, " Okay, we're going to train just that one muscle." So biofeedback is feedback based on physiology, the potentials in the bioactivity, and then making that part of a therapy or a training program. And that's been around for a long time, since the 60s and 70s. But technology and software have gone through many evolutions, and that's a whole different situation now compared with the computers and software we have done in the 70s, obviously. Yes, it makes sense. There are a lot of things that have happened since then. So biofeedback is a physiological signal you can measure using particular devices and combine with software. Then you can start actually to train something based on what you described as a feedback loop. The person learns from this as part of the training. Then there's neurofeedback, maybe you can put a bridge towards the neurofeedback. Yeah, so biofeedback uses signals that we can see, mostly muscle. We can see respiration, and you can feel the heart rate and the heartbeat. Neurofeedback works directly on the brain's central nervous system; you could say biofeedback works mostly on the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic nervous system. But the central nervous system, our brain, is something you don't feel. When you tense the muscle, you can also feel the muscle tenseness; you see it, you feel it, and then there's an electrical signal that shows you how active that muscle is. But with a brain, you can't do that. Neurofeedback is direct brain activity feedback from the brain. And that's, of course, a signal you are unaware of. The EEG is not something that we are aware of; we are only aware of our, let's say, interstate. And that got my interest in the 90s. Because I said to myself, well, I've worked with EEG equipment and software now for a number of years, but I'm really interested; what is the relationship? What are the correlations between the electrical brain activity we can measure so well and behavior or our state of consciousness? And when you work with EEG, you start using it to train the state of the brain and mind. That's when you call this neurofeedback. You wouldn't call that biofeedback. I think that is helpful too, and it makes a lot of sense to distinguish these two, so neurofeedback got you excited? You mentioned back in the 90s already. And so, how did you approach it for yourself? Like, what kind of experiments did you get into? Yeah, so this was 1991. And by then, I had worked for medical companies for about five years. And we had built some specific amplifier technology for evoked potentials. Even the brainstem evoked potential, which was pretty advanced at that time. And then, I realized that I could modify that system and the software we had built and create one of the first, probably the first computerized, Neurofeedback systems in Europe. So we modified existing medical technology. And that's when I said, "Well, hey, I've worked for several companies now, but I think I could start my own company." And I want to try this out. So I got all my savings in the bank, which wasn't much, you know, it was something like $5,000, at that time, it was builders. And we built with that last money that I had our belt built 10 units that were modified from this medical evoked potential system, which was hugely expensive, but you know, this system had to be much more low cost and the software. And then I said, "Okay, let's do an experiment." This is now actually displaying this EEG activity on a standard low-cost computer, which was becoming available in 1992. I'm sure you remember the IBM AT, you know, you could buy them for a few 1000 marks or builders, or that's where I got started. And I put those advertise those systems in several magazines, and then I simply waited and see, okay, well, you know, do people understand what I was doing in 1992? Nobody knew what Neurofeedback or biofeedback even when I spoke about this to medical doctors; they said, "Well, I don't know what this is." You know, it sounds crazy that you do something with EEG because the EEG can only be used to see if somebody's brain is damaged; you know, what you're doing is ridiculous. I said, "Well, I don't think it's ridiculous." So those 10 systems that were built with my last money, I actually sold one. To my amazement, pretty soon after that advertisement, what out was out of psychiatrists in The Hague, he wanted to have the system because he worked with patients. And he said, "I'm very interested in including the EEG in my clinical practice, so I said, "Hey, this is the machine and this is what it does." He said, "I like it, I buy it." So that's what's my very, very first sale ever. And then a few others followed and said, Okay, well, I feel safe. Now. I'm going to start this business. And I'm going to call it Mind Media. And that's how it started in October 1992. Oh, yeah, that sounds almost like back in those days when I went to Silicon Valley, the typical, like the garage setup, right? You build these boxes, or these devices, taking all your money and then see what happens or the sounds fascinating. Once you had those devices, did you then experiment a lot with yourself, basically figuring out what you can now train? How did you approach it? Yes, well, the first person I ever that I connected to that system, and that was called Brain tracer. And we launched that in 1992, and the first person that was ever connected to that computerized EEG system, I think there was only a system made by an English guy called Maxwell Cade. And it was no software. So this was one of the first computerized systems. Of course, I connected myself to test how it would work. And because I had also been interested in doing meditation and have been doing meditation for many years, I wanted to see what happens when I'm active, when I'm doing things, or when I'm stressed. And what happens when I'm in the state I experienced is much more balanced and clear. So I started to observe how the EEG changed. And back then, we already had digital frequency analysis, which was very early because the computers at that time weren't very powerful. But you could see how the spectrum would change. And you could see how the brain waves changed according to the subjective state that I experienced. And I read, of course, all the literature that I could get hold of, then remember, there was no Internet back then. So I had to literally order books from, you know, libraries abroad to find literature and neuro biofeedback because there was no Google; you had to find out everything by yourself. And when I saw that on myself, I could actually influence brain activity by looking at the signals and using various relaxation techniques or meditation. I said, Well, I think this really works. If it works on me, it probably works on others as well. That sounds like - You said that was in the 90s - that sounds to me like one of the origins of biohacking. If you think about it, right? I mean, what you're describing is that you actually - what you actually did was, "Okay, let's look at how the brain behaves. What kind of signals do I see? Let's see what I'm doing now, different types of mental activities, and then see what happens." And so then, based on that, you create some feedback, and let's use let's train different states, right? It sounds to me like hacking the mind. Or actually, it seems like the motivation was hacking meditation, right? Yes, hacking was, of course, a very modern word in 1992. We didn't have that word. Yeah. And that was certainly about learning and deepening my understanding of, and that was my drive, and it still is, which is the relationship between what you very nicely described as the brain and the mind. And that's one way to look at human physiology. There is a body; obviously, we have a body. And our body has a nervous system. And we also have a psycho in mind. And what drove me was to see that we can use medical technology, particularly EEG technology, to better understand what health is. What is the balance? What is homeostasis? What does it mean when I feel more clear or more intelligent? Then, another moment, I noticed in myself, as everybody does, that you have good days and bad days, in the sense that on some days, you felt like, whatever you tried, it didn't really work, or you felt a little worn out, or you couldn't focus a well. And then, another day, it would be as if brilliant ideas would just pop up every 10 seconds. And why is there that change? Why are we in one change at one moment and another, sorry, one state at one moment, and then another state and another moment? So shifting that state, and trying to understand what happens in the brain and in the mind and the relationship between those two? That's what drove me. What were some of those early insights when you were looking at the mind in the brain and what's happening there? And just curious. Yeah, well, the insights that I got, and also by reading literature, because, you know, I can't use myself as a single case study. And it's not enough for any scientific evidence, of course. But there are correlations between what I experienced subjectively and between the signals that I'm recording, and finding out that there are correlations between what I see in the signals and on the computer and what I experienced. That's when I said this is a useful tool. Because many of the signals we're not aware of, that's very important to understand that with bio and neurofeedback. We're also working with very tiny, electrical, or non-electrical signals or activity in the body and in the brain that are very hard to detect. The EEG is, in principle, very hard to detect. We're talking about microvolts. So we're talking about something that is 10 million times weaker in terms of the voltage than what's coming out of your mains power plug in your wall, you know, that's like 220 volts or 110 volts. We're talking here about activity that's maybe 10 or 20 microvolts. And good to peek into that activity and have amplifiers that make it visible and then see the correlation between those tiny signals and your own state or the state of others. That's, of course, very, very fascinating. And that's an area that's still being researched a lot these days. In fact, there's more research than ever. Now going back to meditation, did you practice regularly? Meditation at that point in time? Did you then do an assessment? Because one of the questions I usually hear from tech leaders is, am I meditating? So that question usually comes up. Were there insights that you got into your own meditation practice and how to take it to the next level? Yes. So I used various meditation practices. And I don't think that any particular practice is the best one. I experienced both by sitting in the classical yoga poses in a quiet room and just being in the silence and feeling everything that comes up, seeing everything that comes up but not adding to it. Another technique I experienced I observed very early in my life, that what we call thinking, the thinking mind or thought, is actually something that can go, let's say, on and on, and go in repetitive cycles, and repeat itself over and over and try to work something out. Whereas, there are limitations to thought or thinking. And some of the best insights have to not when you try to stressfully, think yourself out of something or a situation. But when the thinking stops and or is just awareness. And so that made clear to me that thinking itself, however useful it is, is not the only state we have available to us as humans to be intelligent. There is intelligence that doesn't require thinking or thinking stressfully. But in fact, in silence, and in some kind of a silent balance, where you feel very aware that intelligence could be far greater. So I would experiment with these various meditation techniques and do recordings and then see and try to understand what happened in the EEG. Sometimes, I could see effects. So what are these effects? I could see that slow waves would come up alpha and theta waves, and I could see that the EEG became quieter. So there was less bad activity, the higher frequencies. And at other times, I have to be honest; also, I did not see any change in the EEG, although I did experience subjective changes. So we have to understand that however beautiful and interesting EEG is, it's not superior, and of all tools to understand everything, there's still a lot that we do not understand. I think the insight you got is that no thinking is a calm state of mind. As an example, a lot of creativity can flow so it can be solved without sinking. I'm sure some of the listeners may actually resonate with the style. Like, as example of myself, I got my best ideas in the 90s when whenever I did a lot of inventions and filed patents, and all that stuff brought innovation. Yeah, a lot of those ideas came to me when I was taking a shower, commuting to work with my car, right working in environments where I didn't have to think, so this really calm state of mind and not the thinking mind. Right? And then unfortunately, the intellectual approach many of the tech leaders are still in there is in this high, overdrive state of mind activity. So a lot of thinking activity and this is actually counterproductive. It's actually not where good ideas originate from, so that goes in a similar direction. The other thing you mentioned was you talked about slow waves in for the listener, right? So delta waves are a set of waves, definitely, in a slower range; there are alpha waves between eight and 12 Hertz. And then there is beta, high beta on top of it, and even gamma. So there's a range of these brain waves nowadays. And I remember when I first looked at the spectrum in real-time mapping, putting my brain on the EEG and then looking at the results on the wall, basically, big projector, right? Protecting might raise the brainwaves on board, as Oh, my goodness, this is cool, right? But then I noticed there's lots of beta, so high, more high-frequency activity going on, per default. And for me for instance, I was always interested in how do I how can I meditate, and get into a better meditative state. And what I realized, at much later point, I started getting into this topic, for instance mindfulness meditation about 10 years ago. And sometimes meditation worked well, then other times, it didn't work at all; there was just too much mind noise. And then, just a few years ago, when I got into neurofeedback, I realized that the other problem is basically there's too much data, there's too much thinking noise going on. And on the other hand, there was not enough alpha, right? Alpha waves between eight and 12 words like, which I consider the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind. There needed to be more there. And so, in fact, if you look at this, there is a, you can actually see what's going on in terms of the quality of your current meditation and how your mind actually works. Now, going back to the question of when you actually have seen these things you have for yourself and your explore different states? What were your thoughts? And how could, you know, use the technic technology actually to optimize the states of the brain? Yeah, so I saw my role in this field as a, let's say, as a pioneer, because in 1992, there weren't any computerized biofeedback systems or Neurofeedback systems, at least not many. I saw my role as providing the best possible tools for both researchers and clinicians to dive into this field. So I'm not a clinician, and I don't have any medical background, but I do have a clear understanding of the physiology and the signals and the processing that is needed to make those signals visible. And to interpret them. From the technological point of view, and from the physiological technological point of view. That's what I've been doing. And my mission and vision are really to provide professional users, researchers, clinicians, the therapists with the best possible tools so that they can work with our clients and patients and make a difference in the world. And then make a difference in terms of health and not having a disease. And I'm very proud to see, you know, that our Nexus technology, that's how we've named it after 2003, has been used by many very famous universities to do very exciting research. And there are now 1000s of users and clinics who train people daily with this technology. That's where I see my role. But the motivation that we can become empowered and responsible for our own health also then includes our own, let's say, inner state, our own inner state of balance. I consider that to be part of health. You could call that psychological health or however you would name that, but that's part of how we switch back to chronic thinking, for instance, part I think we have all been raised by also in a vacation to appreciate our rational qualities and human intelligence. But we've always translated that very narrow into thinking, thinking, thinking. I've totally recognized that thinking is a super useful process. But overthinking and chronic thinking are different matters. So if you compare it to muscle, let's compare it. It's a very simplistic approach now because the brain is very complex. But there's still some truth in it when you compare the brain, which is a very complex organ, to a simple organ, like a muscle. Okay? So a muscle, the optimal state of a muscle is when it's mellow, when it's there's good blood flow, when it's not constantly in a state of tension, and when a muscle is constantly in a state of tension of activation. At one point, you develop a cramp or a pain, and the blood flow is restricted, and that muscle becomes painful, etc. So a muscle is something that should be both, let's say, in a calm and relaxed state, when it's not necessary. And it should, in order to be strong, it should be used some of the time. So the muscle should not be used, never. And it should not be used all the time; there's a balance. And the same is true for me in the brain, and we think that our thoughts, our quality of thought, and our capacity to think, are the only intelligence that we have. And it's not true. It's just like the muscle; when the muscle isn't chronically tense, it gets into homeostasis, a state of balance. And the same is true for the mind; the mind can be in a state of balance at some points, some moments in time, just like a muscle, it can spike, and it can be very active, and it can be just like a muscle that needs to work hard. And then, after that, it can regenerate and just be in a state of equanimity. And in that state of equanimity, my personal experience, and the experience, I think of 1000s, or even millions of people in the world is that they're way more clear in their head. And they can be much deeper into maybe questions that they have or insights that they have when they're in the state of chronic thinking. And, of course, then we're back to meditation. Because meditation is a word that's being used for people, you know, using techniques to be in that balanced state. Now, Neurofeedback and meditation can be linked in the sense that Neurofeedback can show how brain activity changes when you use various relaxation or meditation techniques. And by seeing that on a computer screen and seeing that you're the brain part, the hardware part, as you can name it, is responding to the mind part, the software, as you name it. It accelerates that learning process. It makes it objectively visible by looking at the brain activity and signals and frequencies. And it accelerates the learning process. But still, it is a learning process. It takes time. It's not just like you can't learn a language in one day. In the same way, you can't change the general state of your mind and bring in a single day. You need, let's say, repetition for that. And therefore, if people use Neurofeedback clinically, let's say, for ADHD, attention problems, sleep disorders, stress-related disorders, and so on. Typically, you would have a number of sessions, and that could be quite a lot of sessions, like 20 sessions 30 sessions; it's not uncommon because you're retraining the brain to be in a different state. And when people have trained their brains in a way to always be in a state of anxiety, chronic thinking, or stress, then it's a kind of programming that they've done to their nervous system for years. And then you could say it's like a kind of reprogramming all, although I don't like that word, it's more like going back to your natural state and unlearning that chronic behavior. So yeah, that's how I viewed Neurofeedback; it enables a learning process. It speeds it up. It gives you objective proof and information about what is happening in your physiology, brain, and nervous system. And that's very, very helpful and very interesting. And we're still discovering how it can help people to be in a better state, and better Health, and that includes the mind. There's a lot of actually a lot of insights in the explanation, what you just shared. And I think you mentioned this capability of this; I refer to it as flexibility or brain flexibility to switch between these states of calmness of relaxation, but also more going more into an execution mode and getting processing done, so to speak, using swords to process and solve problems. So there is flexibility, ideally, that your brain uses, but unfortunately, and I've experienced this myself, I also see it and many other engineers, techies, tech leaders, that the mind they have trained their brain over many years, sometimes decades, to focus on excessive thinking. Working in stressful environments, their minds are always on overdrive. And that is what you described, right? Shifting through the process of neuroplasticity, shifting the brain towards this execution mode all the time, but then you lose the capability of this flexibility; you can't easily go back anymore. It's like a muscle. And so Reiner, it's also the reason why I named my company mind media. Because, you know, the media are the instruments that we're building. And the mind is ultimately what we can use, and you call it the software, which is a nice analogy, to optimize our state, health, and balance. And I would still compare the brain, to give people an easy example, to the muscle. I know it's simplistic, but it's a useful analogy. Because you can explain to people if you completely always tense a muscle, then it becomes more dysfunctional; it becomes crammed you get pain. And then at a time when you really need that muscle to do something. It's not at all in an optimal state. But it's been overloaded all the time. Absolutely. And I really liked this analogy "wisdom muscle." Unfortunately- The brain and the mind - it's the same if the brain is constantly activated and constantly in a state of chronic thinking and or stress, then it's just like the cramped muscle when it's actually needed for some deeply intelligent decisions, or some analysis are from for something else that requires, you know, our thought or intelligence, it's not at all in an optimal state. Yes. Based on my experience, I estimate that a high percentage of listeners or tech leaders, or leaders in general, are actually in this cramped state of the muscle. And interestingly, there is a technique called SCP, slow cortical potential. And I want to say this was actually for me, eye-opening when I started first looking at this, and we'll go into this a little bit here. But you could see that this ability to get into execution mode or out of the mode shows this flexibility. And when you just do a baseline assessment using this technique, you can actually see if your brain is really flexible, or is it not? Maybe share a little bit of what you just gave, maybe some context to SCP, and how this relates to the muscle that you just described? Yeah, so so far, what we've been talking about, Reiner, in the conversation is frequency-based neurofeedback, where we look at the waves, the frequencies that we can see in the EEG, the delta that Adele found a better, low, better high, beta, gamma, etc. And that's all based on the spontaneous EEG as it's presenting itself all the time. And in that spontaneous EEG, we see older frequencies and remember that we can put a lot of channels on that; we could look at channel four channels are 21 or 64, EEG channels, and all those channels show these frequencies. However, the slow cortical potential, the SCP is a different approach. And that's an approach where we don't care about frequencies at all. But we're looking at the shifts in the so-called DC Direct Current component of the EEG, which is not a frequency at all, is more of a potential shift. And what has been found is that, when you look at the Ed as a, it's a little bit technical, but a DC signal, a very, you know, simplistic way to would be to describe it as a battery. But of course, rather insulting, our brain is much more, but if you look at it in the DC range, there's like a battery, the battery can go up a little bit where low less, you know, can go up and down in voltage, we can see shifts in the EEG in the so-called voltage or DC component. And for that, you require a DC amplifier, there are only very few systems in the market that can do that, or Nexus is one of them. And by looking at those shifts, we can see something that also correlates with brain activity. There are no frequencies; there's only a shift towards the more negative or, the more positive range. So if you take an ed a signal, and you don't look at all of the frequencies, and you have a DC amplifier, you can see a certain voltage level that it's at. In microvolts, you don't care where it really is; it's somewhere. And then you can see a shift in that potential, upwards or downwards, when you do certain tasks, and the University of Tubingen and other universities and researchers have found that this is another form of neurofeedback; those potential shifts don't care about the frequency, you just care about that EEG shifting up entirely, or shifting down entirely. And that typically happens over a number of seconds; it's not that the entire brain shifts up all the time. It typically happens over a few seconds up to 10 seconds, and then the brain sort of returns to normal. And people have shown that if you train that negative or positive shifting flexibility between switching between a negative vacation, you could call it an A positive action, making the potential go up or down. It's also impacting the mind and the brain. And the first research that has been published, I think, has been done mostly on epilepsy. So that's a more clinical application. And for people who have been able to show that they are training the brain that way, the number of attacks or seizures could be diminished. In fact, the frequency-based EEG in the 70s and 80s was also used with SMR training and low data training and has been shown to reduce the activity of epilepsy and the frequency of seizures. And then later, the SAP has also been searched, and people have tried, "Can I also use it for improving the tension? Or maybe cognitive processes?" And yes, studies have shown that it also helps to improve intentions. SAP training is, on the one hand, more simple than frequency training because you're only looking at a shift. Technically, it's more difficult because there are a lot of artifacts and technical things you have to really do well. Because otherwise, your signal is not reliable. You have to look at the eye movements, the vertical and horizontal eye movements, and you have to do all kinds of technological tricks. So in that sense, frequency-based neurofeedback is easier to do. The SCP, however, is also very interesting, and it's particularly an application that has been used a lot in the German countries in Germany and Austria; I also think in part of Switzerland, outside of Central Europe, it's used way less like for instance, in the United States, there are only very few people that are using SCP. Thanks. This is a helpful explanation. From my own experience, and when I started using SCP and looking at where I started, then after a certain number of sessions you mentioned earlier, everything takes time. There's no this test quick fix is unfortunately not available. But I could see, for instance, after 10 sessions, a significant change in brain flexibility. And it's in a process that you can continue doing it. And so, for me, it's more in terms of optimization towards what I call a high-performance mind. So this is when I created a while ago, this training program for tech leaders on achieving the state of a high-performance mind. Right there is what you mentioned earlier, the frequency-based neurofeedback, which is a great way of training different types of brainwaves. Maybe emphasizing them, or maybe decreasing them in intensity to create a signature of your brain to capability on demand that you can shift into these different states of the mind. And then the SCP that we just talked about, giving you this kind of flexibility, is the second one, maybe for completeness. And before we also run out of time, there is another thing called the brain map or q e g, yes. Would you share a very brief - because this is really cool stuff - about when you want to know how Neurofeedback evolved and what's possible today with the software you guys are producing? Yes, yes. So, the qEEG is actually a more novel development because biofeedback started somewhere in the 60s and 70s, and Neurofeedback started in the 80s. Basically, qEEG uses all of the EEG challenges. You could do neurofeedback training or SAP training with just a few channels. But qEEG means that you usually use all the EEG channels; you could do qEEG with only four, but most people would use the entire brain, so to speak, and that means you have a hat cap on your head with up to 21 channels. And that allows us to show the activity of the entire brain frontal, occipital, temporal, all the locations, also the left brain, the right brain. And what we do is we do a real-time analysis of the activity, also frequency analysis. And then, we display the head as seen from above. So you see an oval circle or an oval forum. And the activity is displayed in colors. And that's a neuroimaging technique. It's, of course, different from fMRI. But it's something that's very complementary to it. Because in fMRI, if you know you can't have a very high temporal resolution, you don't see any signals changing in time, but you have a very high spatial resolution, you can look very deep into the brain. With qEEG, what we're doing is we're measuring all the EEG channels; we're displaying them as a 2d or 3d color image that shows you in real-time how old frequencies are changing in the brain. And that's fascinating because you see the entire brain at work; we can see how regions become more activated and less activated. And then you record typically 1020 30 minutes of data, you can train with the data also bid for the qEEG analysis where you want to see, okay, what's happening in the brain. On average, you would store a recording like that, where people just sit calmly with their eyes open and eyes closed, and so on. And then you run that through database analysis. And that just means you want to see how much the EEG deviates from the average ad. And the average ad is then something you have collected over hundreds or 1000s of people for a certain age. So if you want to know what my brain looks like, let's say you're 40 years old. How does my brain compare to the average 40-year-old in delta, theta, alpha, beta, etc, in all these frequencies for all the locations on your head? And within qEEG analysis, we can see which parts of the brain differ or deviate from the normal activity in that particular location. So we're looking at all the locations, and then it might turn out that some people have a very high frontal better activity compared to the average person. Now, most clinicians would already. Do you see that, as you said, when you started training, I could observe a lot of data here and there? That means you already compared it to something which you say is more normal, and my bed is higher. And that's what you do with qEEG, except you do it very precisely; you have very precise recordings, very precise statistics. So I would say that makes it much more objective. And then based on that objective report, you can look at the entire brain, and all the locations and all the activities and say, Okay, what's happening here? Now, that still doesn't mean that we understand everything we see, but we can quantify it very precisely. And we can generate very accurate statistics. And then it's really comparing your brain activity to that database, say, How does my brain activity compare to these hundreds of others of people? And is there something we can see that is maybe remarkable or different? So let's see, when somebody has a sleep disorder, or stress-related disorders, or attention disorders, and you would see that certain parts of the brain are clearly less active, or clearly more active than the average person, then that could be a good place to start training. If you see a lot of, let's say, frontal data or a lot of central data, that gives you information on what to train. And more and more people are using this now because they don't simply want to train on the standard position and then think, Okay, well, let's try if this helps, they want to have more information and see, okay, maybe I should train more the left part, the frontal part. So qEEG is a field that's growing. And more and more people and clinicians will be using it. But not every clinician, some people, will specialize in the qEEG, you have to feel comfortable with placing all the electrodes on the head, and it's some more work. So there might also be clenches clinicians or a therapist and say, Well, I'm just interested in doing that pre and post. So a qEEG test before I go into training. And then, a few months later, I do a post-test and just compare and see what has changed and what has improved. That's a helpful explanation. So now we actually have three things, right? We have the frequency-based approaches with neurofeedback; we talked about the SCP, which is a different way of looking at the brain's flexibility. And then there is the qEEG, which is kind of cool. That generates a map of your brain in real-time and shows what's going on. And then you have mentioned, and there are certain states that you may actually uncover for yourself in the first time, maybe there's a state that you can't focus well enough, you would actually see that on in these type of different approaches, you could see that all yeah, there is a certain I can now see that this, for instance, state of the brain here is actually generated because of my lack of focus, for instance, is based on- Yeah, so it could be that it's correlated to that; we have to be clear that the qEEG if you look at these brain maps, you can look at them in real-time to train with or to observe during a recording. And then, if this analysis is made, you see them on a piece of paper or on a screen. It's not that we can then tell what somebody thought about, or we can see from the image that somebody has inserted that problem. It's not like that. But it's then up to the clinician or the researcher to correlate what they see in the neuroimaging and correlate that with their client, their specific client, or patient and then see the patterns. And maybe two, maybe it's an interesting way to close or finish, let's say, well, we're talking about by also mentioning that neuro and biofeedback are forms of individualized medicine. You really want to work with every patient in their own way because some people will have a naturally high level have maybe slow waves, and it's not a problem. It's just our natural state. Other people have more bad data. And you can't. You can't say there's one way to train everyone. It's simply not true. It's an individualized approach. And then, individualized, you train people to get in a better state to optimize their state. And we do know what is a better state for most people. And they can also report this back; they can also say, hey, my mind is clear. Now. Just like they can say, when they're training a muscle, I can feel my muscle is, is looser. Now. It's more, feels more relaxed. So neuro and biofeedback, a very pragmatic it's really about optimizing and improving health, and optimizing and improving people's inner state and also the state of their mind. And this technology is a fantastic tool to facilitate that. Very good. And I think that's also a good way to wrap up or close since we're getting towards the end of the show. In this episode, I think what you just mentioned in terms of a highly individualized, personalized approach is a key thing. We're all different. I think the takeaway is that there is technology out there that you admire, media, hardware, and software that can be used. And we'll put links to all those things into the show notes so people can get into this. This also, which we didn't mention before, is that you guys also offer a lot of training and courses on neurofeedback, which is quite cool. And then, at the end of the day, I think to get to get started, it could be a good idea to look up a, for instance, a Neurofeedback practitioner near you and just do some intercessions and play with it a little bit, see what comes up. On my side, as we're talking right now. We're currently working on building what I call the high-performance mind Labs, which will have all those technologies available. So for tech leaders to other people who are really interested in optimizing brain performance. So all those things will be there. And I'll talk about this at a later point in more detail. But I think for me, I can fully relate to whatever when you mentioned earlier in terms of what may be similar. What got me fascinated was the first time you actually see your mind on the ball in real-time in front of you. You see the brain map; you see all that stuff going on. And then you see things; you probably get a better understanding. This is why this, for instance, there's so much thinking there you see it. But then you're not left in terms of that's how it needs to be, and you can actually make choices. You can say, "Let's go a little bit more in this mode; let's generate more flexibility in the brain. Let's start to optimize it." And so the technology is there, but you guys build new technology. There's software available that helps practitioners to really get cutting-edge stuff out of it. And then there are these practitioners or labs that are available, and hopefully more and more that you can choose from. And then it's a journey. And I think it's probably also my closing; it's a journey. Is there any word of advice, like one last tip, that you would put out to the audience in terms of motivation to get going? Yes, well, you already mentioned that we are doing more education, workshops, and courses. These courses are also CIA certified, that's an American institute, biofeedback Certification Institute. They're both available in German, the German language, and English. And we have now acquired or taken over the American branch, which is called stents Academy. So that's the word, and the brand will be used in the future for our education. So I would advise people if they want to go deep into this and learn that they also do some workshops. And they can do him with various I mean, we're just one of many offering workshops. Various companies do those organizations. But our organization is called STEM Academy. It uses the Nexus systems, and it's an excellent way to go into this deeply. This education and these courses are presented by very experienced people. And we hope that in 2022, we will not only have online workshops but also, again, in-person workshops where we can actually physically be available because, of course, we now have to wait until COVID is sufficiently gone before we can do that again, we expect May or June this year we can start again. Very good. Yeah. So then, Thanks, Erwin, for sharing all those great insights. We were able to really explore this fascinating area of Bio- and Neurofeedback and all the opportunities, tools, and methods that allow available to create the state of a high-performance mind. Such fascinating stuff. We can probably talk for a few hours here. But thanks again for being here. And again, I said earlier, all those links like the software hardware, some of the training, we'll put all that stuff in the show notes so listeners can actually check it out and see what resonates. All right, and thanks for having me. Thank you.