The Science Behind Our Focus

The Science Behind Our Focus

 min read
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Neurable has announced recent research and understanding about how we focus, and how electroencephalography (EEG) can be used to measure focus and distraction.

Neurable’s mission is to build a world without limitations. The first step to this involves taking a deep look at the world around us, the technology that we use, and how it impacts our daily life. All of these interactions start in the brain. Neuroscience and the science of understanding have been a core part of Neurable from Day One. By understanding how we work best, we can create tools to help us focus on what matters most.

The world has more distractions than ever. Smartphones, working from home (i.e. the couch), global pandemics, and racial reckonings — this year has pushed human resilience to the limit. What feels more scarce than ever is a sense of balance.

We’ll argue this: maybe the way we work needs to change. For the past few years, Neurable has applied neuroscience to help understand how your brain works best.

The challenges that lie ahead

The world that we live in has become more complex.  We’re in a time of peak notifications, online and off - and with our work from home becoming unbalanced. During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, we struggled with work life balance, with some research showing that the average workday in the US has increased by 3 hours. With countless distractions, as well as a shifting routine we’re facing increasing challenges to our new standard of work.

While the workday is often structured in how we can be more productive at work, we’ll argue that we’ll need to look at the more important fact — how you can be more efficient, so you can spend time with what matters most, your time away from work.

How do we do it?

Neurable has brought together leaders in computational neuroscience, experimental neuroscience, machine learning, and consumer electronics to create hardware and software systems with outstanding performance, comfort, and are easy to use. Building on experiences at Bose, Harvard Medical School, University of Michigan, Boston University, and MIT, Neurable, with the backing of leading investors, built a brain-sensing wearable device that leverages neural sensors to better understand ourselves.

Using EEG sensors, Neurable has collected hundreds of hours of brain-activity to create complex algorithms to understand how the brain handles cognitive load, focus, and distractions.

This has led to over 15 patents granted or pending in six countries spanning Hardware, UX/UI, Neural Signal Collection, Core BCI Technology, Neural Signal Processing, Output, and Hybrid Signals, Neurable has demonstrated a known3 understanding of the science and application of it. Neurable is committed to set a high ethical standard for the entire consumer-facing neurotech industry.  

Let’s break it down

How do you measure focus with brain sensors? Let’s start with an analogy. At Neurable, we love food: cooking food, eating food, and debating our opinions about food. So, our analogy will be about food. Imagine you are at a restaurant (outdoors, next to a propane heater because it’s cold where we live) and you order a selection of chocolates for dessert. You have milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. You observe things: (1) you can tell them apart because of the color, and (2) you notice they each smell different.

Then the power goes out! You’re not going to let a little darkness stop you from enjoying those chocolates, but you want to know which one you’re about to eat. You can’t use color to distinguish the chocolates anymore, so you use your memory of what each smells like.

Measuring focus with EEG is like eating chocolates in the dark. At first, we can tell the chocolates apart from both color and the smell. Then, when the power goes out the color doesn’t help you, so you use the smell (and your memory of the connection between color and the smell) to identify the chocolates.

For focus and EEG data, we measure your performance on a specific type of task, associate it with brain signals, and build a model to determine focus with brain signals. When there’s no way to directly measure focus, we use the association between performance and EEG data instead.

Better science for better focus.

It’s no secret that the relationship between ourselves and our technology is constantly evolving. With increased demand of wearable technology (and increased adoption of it as well), research shows that this may be a viable option for building better habits, increasing focus and efficiency, and most importantly, allowing us to have a better work-life balance. Consumer neurotechnology is a new, growing industry — it’s important to approach these solutions with a strong sense of ethics and scientific approaches.

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