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Design of an EEG biofeedback system

Ma Zhongming
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Singapore Polytechnic, 500 Dover Road, Singapore 139651 Abstract: The electroencephalograph (EEG) monitors the brainwave activity from sensors placed on the scalp. Applications for EEG feedback are currently being developed. It is a painless, non-invasive procedure that might be helpful in the management of a large variety of disorders. These include epilepsy, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, alcohol / chemical dependency and other addictive disorders, traumatic brain injury, sleep onset disorders and insomnia. Keywords: EEG, Biofeedback, home therapy, Attention deficit disorder. Introduction EEG (Electro-encephalographic) Biofeedback also known as Neurotherapy makes us aware of the changes in various physiological responses. It enables us to gain control over the physiological responses that may have a negative impact on our day-to-day lives. Consistent use can reduce medication, perform tasks that were once frustrating and discouraging reduce anxiety and depression and achieve peak performance. Each session begins with the placement of electrodes on the head scalp. These electrodes are in turn attached to a personal computer. Through the use of computer software program, the brainwaves are quickly represented on the computer screen. A game or animation will be displayed on another computer screen that will help to soothe the condition of the user. EEG biofeedback therapy, also known as neurofeedback, is a type of biofeedback therapy which specifically utilizing brain-wave information. EEG biofeedback is most commonly used to improve IQ scores, increase grade performance, decrease inattentiveness and the effects are usually long-term. The biofeedback has been reported successful in the following area: ADD/HD[3] Addictive Disorders Tourettes Syndrome Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder Oppositional behaviors Eating Disorders Strokes Head Injuries Forgetfulness Various Psychiatric Disorders Peak Performance Immune System Problems Stress Related Problems High Blood Pressure

Basics of Brainwave (EEG)[2] EEG History: The presence of electrical current in the brain was discovered by an English physician, Richard Caton, in 1875. The various regions of the brain do not emit the same brain wave frequency simultaneously. An EEG electrode placed on the scalp would pick up many waves with different characteristics. This has presented a great deal of difficulty to researchers trying to interpret the large amount of data they receive from even one EEG recording. Brain waves have been categorized into four basic groups: Alpha, Beta, Theta, & Delta waves. Although none of these waves is ever emitted alone, the state of consciousness of the individual may make one frequency more pronounced than the others. Brainwaves, measured using an electroencephalograph (EEG), reflect on the surface of the brain of electrical activity in the brains deeper centers. Various mental activities produce different types of brainwaves. The individual is trained to produce and / or reregulate specific brainwaves or patterns. Types of Brainwaves [1]


THETA (4 Hz to 7 Hz) The Brain in the Early Stages of Sleep.

User with this brainwave pattern is between a stage of relaxing wakefulness and deep sleep. He / She may be described as dreamy, drowsy, dull and / or hazy. Vivid imaginary may be experienced with this type of brain pattern. Theta appears as consciousness slips toward drowsiness. Theta has been associated with access to unconscious material, creative inspiration and deep meditation. Theta is usually accompanied by other frequencies and seems rather to be related to level of arousal. We know that healers and experienced meditators have an alpha which gradually lowers in frequency over long periods of time. The large dominant peak of the 10 to 20 year meditator will almost certainly be found to be around 7 Hz in the so called theta band.

The amplifier board will amplifier the waveform and also goes through a low-pass filter, with a cut-off frequency of 50Hz. The output will then be feed into the MircoCore11 board. This board will change the analog waveform to digital waveform, using the M68HC11 chip. The digital data will then be stored into the EEPROM in the MircoCore11 board itself. The data will wait for the PC to receive it. At the PC, there will be a menu (using C++ program) for user to select for testing the transmission or to display the waveform of the frequency. If the user chooses option one, which is the testing of the transmission, the system will tell the user if the transmission line is set up. If the user chooses the second option, which is displaying the waveform, the system will receive the data from the MicroCore11 board. The C++ program will first filter the three frequency bands (i) Theta wave (4-7 Hz), (ii) Alpha wave (8-14 Hz) and (iii) Beta wave (15-25 Hz). The level of these signals at these filtered frequencies will be displayed so that the user can learn to relax in order to get to the desired state. The amplitudes of the three frequency bands will be show on the PC. There will be a game to soothe the condition of the user. Hardware The hardware used consists of the amplifier board, the MicroCore11 board, the headgear and the RS-232 interface. The amplifier board uses integrated chip like AD624 and AD625, to amplify the brainwave signals as the brain signal is too small (only 50uV) needs to be amplified first before filtering. In this amplifier board, there is also a low-pass filter with a cut-off frequency of 50Hz. The MicroCore11 boards job is to process data from the amplifier board and converts the brainwave from analog waveform to digital waveform. These waveforms have to be digital so that it can be send to the PC. After all conversion,
A m p l if ie r & l1 p 1 M f ilt e r b o a r d U s y s t e m

ALPHA (8 Hz to 14 Hz) The Brain in Relaxed Wakefulness

This brainwave pattern indicative of someone whose eyes are closed, yet the person is still awake. The person could be described as calm, peaceful, unfocused and / or mentally in neutral. Visual or auditory imagery is often experienced in conjunction with this brain pattern.

BETA (15 Hz to 25 Hz) The Brain At Work

This brainwave pattern is indicative of a person who is active, alert, concentrating, anxious, tense and / or lively. Beta is the usual waking rhythm of the brain associated with active thinking, active attention, focus on the outside world or solving concrete problems. Overall System Description The portable biofeedback trainer is therapeutic equipment, which works by monitoring the level of brain activities of the users. Firstly the user will need to wear the headgear with three electrodes attached. The headgear is stretchable so that it can be used for different kinds of people, from children to adults. The brainwaves are then feed into the EEG amplifier board.


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Fig. 1 System block diagram

data will be stored into EEPROM waiting for the PC to receive the data. The RS-232 interface is used to connect the MicroCore11 board to the computer system. To connect the portable brainwave biofeedback trainer to a computer, we will have to use a connector or DTE/DCE interface standard. There are several DTE/DCE interface standards in use throughout the world and RS-232 is the most common one. Software Minimum system requirements must be at least a Pentium 133. The CPU also uses a dual VGA card. The software used for drawing the schematics of the amplifier board is Protel. Rapid11 is used to run the source codes for the MicroCore11 board [4] to do the analog to digital waveform conversion. Turbo C++ Language is used to receive data from the MicroCore11 board, program the filtering section, drawing of axis and displaying of the waveform. There will also be a game to soothe the condition of the user [5]. There is already such kind of equipment on the market. The special part of our system is: it can be used standalone for home user or connected to a computer with dual-monitor for clinical treatment. The system setup is shown in Figure 1and the overall system block diagram is shown bellow.

The portable device contains the following program components: Game program Graph program Serial Transfer program Signal Conversion program Welcome program System testing Firstly the patients head is attached with three electrodes with the aid of the paste; one on the ear as a reference point, one on the forehead and the last one is depending on the area of injury. These electrodes are then input into the EEG amplifier. The output of this amplifier will be connected to a Low-Pass Filter, with a cut-off frequency of 50Hz. This output will then be entered into three separate filters which will filter the 3 frequency bands (i) Theta wave (4-7 Hz), (ii) Alpha wave (8-14 Hz) and (iii) Beta wave (14-25 Hz). The level of these signals at these filtered frequencies will be displayed, the patients must learn how to relax in order to get to the desired state. The amplitudes of the three frequency bands will be compared with individually adjustable references. The patient will have to re-adjust his thoughts to bring his level down to a desirable level. Points will be awarded as incentives if the patient shows improvement.

Fig.3 The amplifier, filter and MCU board

Fig.2 System setup

The external device is a microcontroller based system, with precision amplifier for EEG input, filter, MCU, LCD and serial interface. It can be used standalone: with the LCD to display the waveform and simple bar game for the Biofeedback to be conducted.

If the device connected to computer, the real time EEG waveform will be read by the computer, which will display the EEG waveform on one monitor, and also analyze the waveform to see whether it is desired or not, and then control the game (facial expression of either happy or disappointed) which is shown on another monitor for the patient. User screen games or feedback graphics We use different games to help the patients calm down and control their thoughts. One of


them is the Mandalas screen display. It draws colored Mandalas in thousands of variations. You can also edit seven parameters or use 16 presets plus 84 user-definable presets. The speed is also variable. Its reported to have meditative effect! The other kind of patient window is to show the real-time status of the patients mental activities, and also use some forms of visual and audio feedback, such as use an up-down bubble or a facial expression to indicate the brain wave status. The display is dynamically controlled by the program, which analyzes the patients realtime EEG waveform, if the waveform is ideal, it will give positive feedback (the bubble going up, or the smiling face), otherwise, it will give negative feedback (the bubble going down or a frown face), and then, the patient must learn how to control their mental activity to the best status.

Fig. 6 Captured screen of Mandalas

The whole system has been designed and is under further testing. References [1]. Mann, C.A. et al, 1991, Quantitative Analysis of EEG in Boys with Attention-DeficitHyperactivity Disordor: Controlled Study with Clinical Implications, Pediatric Neurology, Vol 8, No. 1, pp30-36. [2]. Oken, B.S., Chiappa, K.H., 1989, Computerized EEG Frequency Analysis: Sentivity and Specificity in Patients with Focal Lesions, Neurology, Vol 39, pp1281-1287. [3]. Lubar, J.F. et al, 1985, Spectral Analysis of EEG Differences between Children with and without Learning Disabilities., Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol 18, No. 7, pp403-408. [4]. The M68HC11 Microcontroller: Application in control, instrumentation and communication. [5]. Advanced Turbo C Programming, Keith Weiskamp, 1992.

Fig. 4 Up down bubble to give feedback

Fig.5 Facial expression to indicate the mental status