Category Archives: Neurotechnology

Quantity and quality of sleep may act as fountain of youth in old age

“Why do some people age more ‘successfully’ than others?” UC Berkeley researchers think sleep is one of the factors.

As people get older, they sleep less and wake up more frequently. But does that mean older people just need less sleep?

Not according to UC Berkeley researchers, who argue in an article published April 5, 2017 in the journal Neuron that the unmet sleep needs of the elderly elevate their risk of memory loss and a wide range of mental and physical disorders.

The review suggests aging adults may be losing their ability to produce deep, restorative sleep. Furthermore, older people are likely paying for lost sleep both mentally and physically, the reviewers argue.

sleep-for-older-people

“Sleep changes with aging, but it doesn’t just change with aging; it can also start to explain aging itself,” says review co-author Matthew Walker, who leads the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. “Every one of the major diseases that are killing us in first-world nations—from diabetes to obesity to Alzheimer’s disease to cancer—all of those things now have strong causal links to a lack of sleep. And all of those diseases significantly increase in likelihood the older that we get, and especially in dementia.”

Older adults’ sleep loss isn’t due to a busy schedule or simply needing less sleep. As the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in a decreased amount of non-REM sleep. Since non-REM deep sleep plays a key role in maintaining memory and cognition, that’s a problem. “There is a debate in the literature as to whether older adults need less sleep, or rather, older adults cannot generate the sleep that they nevertheless need. We discuss this debate at length in the review,” says Walker. “The evidence seems to favor one side—older adults do not have a reduced sleep need, but instead, an impaired ability to generate sleep. The elderly therefore suffer from an unmet sleep need.”

This problem has long flown under the radar in sleep research. Older adults rarely report feeling sleepy or sleep-deprived on surveys but that may be because their brains are accustomed to being sleep-deprived every day. When researchers look for chemical markers of sleep deprivation, older adults have them in spades, and when researchers measure the brain waves of older adults, they often find that key electrical patterns in sleeping brains—such as “slow waves” and “sleep spindles”—are disrupted.

Perhaps even more distressingly, the changes in sleep quality start well before people notice that they are shifting to a more “early-to-bed-early-to-rise” schedule or are waking up in the middle of the night more often. The loss of deep sleep starts as early as the mid-thirties. “It’s particularly dramatic in early middle age when it starts to begin,” says Mander. “The difference between young adults and middle aged adults is bigger than the difference between middle aged adults and older adults. So there seems to be a pretty big change in middle age, which then continues as we get older.”

Another surprising finding the authors address is the resilience of REM sleep to the process of aging—rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, where dreams occur. “It does decline, but it is nowhere near as dramatic as the decline in deep non-REM sleep,” says Walker. “So the question then becomes: why is deep non-REM sleep more vulnerable?”

The authors stress that there is variability between individuals when it comes to sleep loss. Women seem to experience far less deterioration in non-REM deep sleep than men, even though the changes to REM sleep are about the same in those two genders. (Aging-related sleep loss hasn’t been studied in trans and nonbinary people yet.) Faster-than-average sleep deterioration may also be a key risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If older people are sleeping a little less than they used to — or wake up once at night then quickly fall back asleep — that’s probably not a red flag. But older adults should talk to their doctor if they routinely sleep less than six hours a night, or lack long “consolidated” blocks of sleep. “We need to recognize the causal contribution of sleep disruption in the physical and mental deterioration that underlies aging and dementia. More attention needs to be paid to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disturbance if we are going to extend healthspan, and not just lifespan.”

The hunt for new treatments

Meanwhile, non-pharmaceutical interventions are being explored to boost the quality of sleep, such as electrical stimulation to amplify brain waves during sleep and acoustic tones that act like a metronome to slow brain rhythms.

However, promoting alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids is sure to be challenging.

“The American College of Physicians has acknowledged that sleeping pills should not be the first-line kneejerk response to sleep problems,” Walker said. “Sleeping pills sedate the brain, rather than help it sleep naturally. We must find better treatments for restoring healthy sleep in older adults, and that is now one of our dedicated research missions.”

But people should not wait until old age to care about sleep. People often start losing the capacity for deep sleep in middle age, and that decline continues over the years. In some cases sleep apnea may be to blame. In other cases, people may need lifestyle adjustments that can improve their sleep. The good news is that “behavioral and environmental changes are powerful.” People can improve their sleep by fitting physical and social activity into their daily routine. At night they make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortable and limit exposure to artificial light — especially the blue glow of computer and TV screens. It’s important to have enough daylight, in the morning and afternoon: That helps keep the body’s circadian rhythms (the sleep-wake cycle) on track.

Also important to consider in changing the culture of sleep is the question of quantity versus quality.

“Previously, the conversation has focused on how many hours you need to sleep,” Mander said. “However, you can sleep for a sufficient number of hours, but not obtain the right quality of sleep. We also need to appreciate the importance of sleep quality.

“Indeed, we need both quantity and quality”

REF> news.berkeley.edu, medicalxpress.com/news

Balancing the Brain or Cranial Electrical Stimulation With Bob Beck’s Brain Tuner & Bio-Tuner

Electro-therapy got its start during the days of the Roman Empire when Greek physicians had their patients stand on electric torpedo fish as a step to improve health in the first century AD. Scribonius Largus wrote: “For any type of gout a live black torpedo should, when the pain begins, be placed under the feet … in this way Anteros, a freeman of Tiberius, was cured. … Headache even if it is chronic and unbearable is taken away and remedied forever by a live black torpedo placed on the spot which is in pain, until the pain ceases.” And Claudius Galen wrote: “Therefore I thought that the torpedo should be applied alive to the person who has the headache, … and could free the patient from pain … this I found to be so.”

Electricity was harnessed for healing as early as 1747. A professor of experimental philosophy and mathematics in Geneva restored life to the paralyzed arm of a blacksmith using an electric current. Electricity was soon recognized as being a natural part of the life force. It was used extensively for healing until the early part of the 20th Century and the advent of the pharmaceutical industry.

In the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, there are several models of early devices used to bring about healing by applying electrical stimulation to the brain. In modern times, research started as early as 1903 to help with insomnia. This research was known first as “Electro-sleep” and later as more applications were discovered the term “Cranial Electrical Stimulation” or CES was used.

Robert (Bob) C. Beck, D.Sc. conducted brain research and developed an improved EEG to read brain wave patterns in the 1970’s. When he read in 1983 about Dr. Meg Patterson’s success in helping rock star Peter Townshend overcome his drug addiction using a “Black Box Brain Tuner” he contacted her. These two research pioneers enjoyed several meetings. Patterson was committed to a large corporation so Bob Beck decided to develop his own Brain Tuner. With Bob’s genius, he was able to develop a unit that emitted all the key frequencies simultaneously. These frequencies include a special healing frequency Bob discovered from Russian researchers.

Bob Beck won the John Fetzer Foundation pioneering award for scientific achievement in 1990 for his brain research. His investigation into the workings of the brain and/or his Brain Tuner are included in at least three books:

  1. Super–Learning 2000, Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, 1994. ISBN#0–440–22388–1″The implications of this work are stunning,” said physicist Bob Beck, the expert on electromagnetic fields, long employed as a consultant to the Department of Defense. Beck, a close friend of Meg Patterson, was soon swept into an adventure of discovery. He studied all her research and everything he could uncover in the Defense Department. Working with spectrum analyzers and sophisticated equipment, he came up with a device: the Brain Tuner 5+, which broadcasts the frequencies of the three ‘magic’ ranges of neurotransmitters—enkephalins, catecholamines, and betaendorphins. He set up the frequencies in bundles. Instead of sounding one for each neurotransmitter separately, he put 256 frequencies together like a resonating chord of music. His device, smaller than a Walkman, runs on a 9–volt battery and is safe. The Brain Tuner has electrodes on a stethoscope–like headset that fit in the hollows behind the ears. Acupuncture points behind the ear effectively circulate electrostimulation on the ‘Triple Warmer’ Meridian. You wear the device just twenty minutes a day.Double–blind studies were done at the University of Wisconsin on the BT 5+’s capabilities to overcome drug–withdrawal symptoms and it did the job. Studies at both Wisconsin and the University of Louisiana showed it could boost IQ from twenty to thirty points. BT 5+ stimulation appears to enhance neural efficiency, researchers stated.Users report the BT 5+ reduces stress, improves short and long term memory, helps learning, increases energy, improves concentration and reduces pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep requirements.
  2. Mega Brain Power, Michael Hutchison, 1994. ISBN#1–56282–770–7Beth was given anesthesia when she gave birth to her first baby and later found that she had lost part of her memory. She was forced to give up her job in an aerospace plant. Years later a friend gave her a small cranial electrostimulation (CES) device and she began using it. “Almost overnight,” she said, “all my memories started coming back, including everyone’s telephone extensions at the plant. It was uncanny—all these old extension numbers of people I hadn’t thought of in years.”This story, told to me by researcher Bob Beck, Ph.D., provides graphic evidence of a key fact: We have the electric–powered brains. Each of the billions of neurons in our brains is a tiny electrical generator, as complex as a small computer, firing an electrical signal that triggers the release of various neurochemicals and links it with thousands of other neurons.”The Brain Tuner (BT-6) was devised by Dr. Bob Beck. It uses a complex waveform that, according to Beck, produces over 250 frequency harmonics simultaneously—”all known beneficial frequencies for the natural stimulation of the brain’s neurotransmitters.” …Since addiction, withdrawal, and anhedonia are the result of insufficient levels of certain brain chemicals, or undeveloped pleasure centers and pleasure pathways, the most direct way of eliminating them is to restore optimal levels of the brain chemicals, to stimulate the pleasure centers and pleasure pathways. One of the most exciting breakthroughs in the treatment of addiction has been the discovery that stimulating the brain with a minuscule electrical current (cranial electrostimulation, or CES) can cause the brain quickly to pour out large quantities of the neurochemicals that have been suppressed by addictive substances.

    As electrotherapy researcher Bob Beck described it to me, this was originally discovered when scientists analyzed the brains of rats that had been addicted to opiates: The rats that were addicted had been getting so much opiate that the little endorphin factories in the brain would shut down and say, “Look, our body’s got too much of this. Quit manufacturing it.” And it would take anywhere from a week to three weeks before their rats’ brains would begin manufacturing beta–endorphin again. Whereas in the brains of the control rats that had never been addicted, you would find the normal, expected levels of beta–endorphin. And then they would take a third group of addicted rats, cold turkey cut them off of the heroin, clip little electrodes to their ears, and within 20 minutes of electrical stimulation … the rat brain would start showing that the endorphin production had started up again. So, those rats wouldn’t go through withdrawal symptoms!

    This evidence quickly led to the use of CES in the treatment of humans. …

  3. Energy Medicine, The Scientific Basis, James L. Oschman, 2000. ISBN#0–443–06261–7

If the therapist relaxes into the state of consciousness typical of those who practice meditation, therapeutic touch and QiGong, and other methods, it is likely that his or her brain waves will, from time to time, become entrained with the micropulsations of the earth’s field. If the patient is also relaxed, both therapist and patient may become entrained with the earth’s field.There is remarkable documentation for this concept. In 1969, Robert C. Beck began a decade of research on the brain wave activity of ‘healers’ from a wide variety of subcultures around the world (Beck 1986). Beck recorded their electrical brain waves with an electroencephalograph (EEG). All the healers produced similar brain wave patterns when they were in their ‘altered state’ and performing a ‘healing’. Whatever their beliefs and customs were, all healers registered brain wave activity averaging about 7.8–8.0 cycles/second while they were in their ‘healing’ state. Beck studied exceptional individuals who were famous or who had developed reputations as healers, psychics, shamans or dowsers. …

Beck performed additional studies on some of the subjects and found that during the healing moments their brain waves became phase and frequency synchronized with the earth’s geoelectric micropulsations—the Schumann resonance.

(Beck R 1986 Mood modification with ELF magnetic fields: a preliminary exploration. Archaeus 4:48)

Bob Beck’s first Brain Tuner was called the BT5. A later model was called the BT6. The Beck Brain Tuner is now available from SOTA Instruments as the Bio-Tuner, Model BT6pro.

Non-invasive Neurotechnologies as part of Digital Revolution

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The tech sector is likewise witnessing an unprecedented explosion in brain-related technology, both in the amount of dollars invested as well as the variety of novel applications developed—ranging from car-based sensors detecting and minimizing inattentive driving, to virtual reality systems discerning consumer brain responses for yet-to-be-build products, to audio headsets that can detect your mood and adjust music to lift you up.

Relevant patent filings have soared in number — from 800 in 2010 to 1,600 last year. Neurotechnologies—at least those that, being non-invasive, pose few if any negative side-effects—are likely to become ubiquitous, pervasive.

To predict the future, it helps to examine one key leading indicator of tech investment: patent activity.

For example, in 2012, Google filed a patent application for a glucose-sensing contact lens to assist diabetic monitoring of blood sugar levels. A couple of years later, Google presented a prototype of the device and revealed a partnership with biotech leader Novartis to commercialize the smart contact lens.

Neurotechnology patents reveal similar insights. Several years after receiving a patent for biosensing wearable tech to communicate with household devices, Philips announced a proof of concept developed with Accenture for a brain-wave reading headset application to control home televisions and lighting merely by thought. And both Philips and Accenture have been active filing for relevant patents, which suggest in short order we will see an innovative solution that can potentially improve the lives of 400,000+ people suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the debilitating neurodegenerative condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Under the radar, brainwave reading technologies are being patented by IT giants such as Microsoft and IBM, trying to create a technological ecosystem that works WITH our brains — rather than AGAINST them. These patents, for example, describe new approaches to improve productivity through techniques like blocking distracting notifications from someone whose brain signals indicate they are highly focused on a particular task.

Our consumption behaviors are also being affected by neurotechnology. Consumer-research behemoth Nielsen has an entire neuroscience division dedicated to measuring consumers at their most fundamental level — their brain activity. Nielsen patents show neurotechnology applications incorporating multidisciplinary approaches with other cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality systems, and even how these same research approaches could be used to improve home-based healthcare.

Improving technology, improving ourselves

But neurotechnology isn’t just geared towards monitoring brain activity. Significant venture funding and patent activity is being directed at products that can enhance brain functioning through neurocognitive training and through cutting-edge (and not fully tested) magnetic and electrical stimulation devices.

It is high time for the Digital Revolution and the Human Brain to meet each other.

The next phase of the Digital Revolution will bring even more new methods of marrying technology with the creative industries, such as media, fashion, music, entertainment, education, literature, and the arts… This innovation will come from people who are able to link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processors. In other words, it will come from the spiritual heirs of Ada Lovelace, creators who can flourish, where the arts intersect with the sciences and who have a rebellious sense of wonder that opens them to the beauty of both.