How does Calm actually work?


Is it alpha-theta sync? What kind of brain activity corresponds to water and wind? Is there an explanation of the science behind it somewhere?


I actually have no idea. So the following is merely speculation. It could be completely wrong, and I’d be interested if others could chime in with their ideas.

What we know is that it compares the ‘busy’ brain from the brainstorming activity of the calibration with the brain state during the actual session. So it is probably not just rewarding the power of certain generalized frequencies…?

Based on my experience with Calm so far, I’d suspect that generalized theta is not rewarded, since human cortical theta waves tend to be associated with a near sleep state, involving hypnagogic imagery. If the ‘watcher’ part of the brain is not particularly online during this stage, it is essentially just a intermediate stage on the way to sleep. And whenever I enter a stage of increased inner visual ‘free flow’ coupled with body relaxation (which I assume is associated with theta waves based on what I’ve read) in my meditation, Calm tends to up the wind strength.

Maybe the app instead takes advantage of the sensor readings during the calibration (which, if the hypothesis of low beta activity during high mind activity is correct) and rewards the reduction of these low beta frequencies detected at high levels (that is, again, if the low beta=high brain activity hypothesis is correct, mostly in the right frontal lobe) during calibration?


I’m demonstrating Muse for a couple of interested doctors next week and I can be almost certain one of them will ask which frequencies it is looking for, which ones trigger calm points etc. I can find nothing about this on InteraXon’s site, in the FAQ etc. The FAQ simply lists the different categories of brainwaves and says Muse measures all of them.

I’d like to know a lot more about what is going on!!


Can we users get a more detailed explanation of the underlying process, somewhere between what a neurologist could understand, and the “relaxation is good for you” type populist press?


Could it be AT sync? Or perhaps TAG sync? It’s a little shady IMO that InterAxon doesn’t share the neurofeedback protocol they’re using. Presumably it’s based on existing research and not new technique they developed. Can the Muse connect to your phone and computer at the same time? If you could see which brainwaves correlate with which states of calm as recorded by the app maybe you could figure it out.