Mom Knows Best

We rely a lot on moms, there’s no doubt about it. From breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to homework, bake sales, and sports, our moms have our backs through it all. But that’s not all they’re responsible for! Based on some recent research, we now know that moms have a role in shaping their children’s brains – because there wasn’t enough pressure already, right?! Take a look at how moms make an imprint on our grey matter and how they knew best all along!

Turns out, moms are right to push “How was your day?” conversation over the dinner table.

A recent MIT study states that having a conversation with young children can help overcome socioeconomic differences when it comes to children’s language development. A landmark study from 1995 found that children from lower economic families have a “30 million word deficit” compared to children from more well-off families, correlating to differences in vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension. That’s a tough situation to turn around, but MIT cognitive scientists studied 4-6 year olds using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and found that, despite a parent’s income or education, the number of exchanges in a conversation predicted more activity in Broca’s area, the part of the brain most related to speech and language, and resulted in higher standardized scores on language assessments. It’s not just about having exposure to diversity of words, but about engaging in a conversation.

My mom always told me, it’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say things that’s important. She was right.

It turns out that baby talk used with young children has a greater function than just sounding sweet to their children. From previous research on the rhythm and pitch, we’ve come to understand that not only do babies prefer to hear baby talk but also they learn new words more easily from the exaggerated way of speaking. Researchers at Princeton wondered if the timbre of a voice – including breathiness, roughness, or nasality – had anything to do with that. They found that women in English and nine other languages change the way they speak to their babies, possibly as a way to indicate the distinction and importance of what they are about to say. Mom, own your baby talk with your infants! It’s serious business.

Making good choices is easier when Mom’s around.

As many of us know, learning from mom doesn’t stop when we’re infants. Often times we need more attention later on in preteen and teen years as we explore responsibilities and consequences of our actions. Developmental neuroscientists all agree that adolescents tend towards risky behavior, but there’s a new view on why. Previously, scientists believed this behavior was based on heightened activity in the ventral striatum, the reward system in our brain, was too strong to compete with the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with decision making and control, but researchers at UNC have found evidence that it depends on who’s around. In a driving simulation with fMRI, teens that drove alone through a yellow stop light strictly had more activity in their reward center. When mom was in the passenger seat, teens that stopped at a yellow light had greater activity at their ventral striatum and prefrontal cortex. Those teens that sped through the yellow with mom didn’t experience any extra reward.

It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on moms to provide the best for their children, but it’s good to know that they were already leading us down the right path all along. Thanks to all the moms out there doing their best!

Any lessons you learned from your mom or a woman you care about that you’re thankful for? Leave a comment!

Customer Spotlight: Ariel and Icker

Despite the wild ride towards the end of the school year, Jennifer, educator and mom of two, took some time to chat with me about her family’s experience with NeuroPlus. Jennifer is an adoptive mom of two children: an 11 year old girl Ariel and 7 year old boy Icker. They’ve both struggled with attention issues and have been diagnosed with ADD, which led Jennifer to look for help.

Jennifer knew that she was willing to try anything to help her family. “Being an educator, I’ve always looked at research based solutions to try to help my children.” Jennifer started with sensory training and worked with occupational therapists, among other therapies. Eventually she started medication with her daughter.

Never satisfied, Jennifer continued to look for other solutions for her family when she discovered NeuroPlus online. “The research was great, and the reviews were great,” said Jennifer, “so I thought, ‘Well, we’ll give it a try,’ and it really seems to be helping!”

Both Ariel and Icker use NeuroPlus as a part of their daily schedule to make sure they get make time for it. After outdoor playtime to unplug from school, dinner, and homework, Jennifer allows her children some screen time as the family hangs out together. “They’re required to play 20 minutes of NeuroPlus before they can play their other games,” Jennifer explains.

Since training, Jennifer’s noticed a dramatic difference in life at home.

Young girl wearing NeuroPlus headset while training

Ariel is medicated on school days, but just in time for homework, that medication has worn off, making homework time a struggle for the family. Previously, the homework that was meant to take 15 to 25 minutes was taking hours. Since training with NeuroPlus, Jennifer shared, “Ariel is able to complete her homework in a reasonable amount of time to be successful.”

Meanwhile, Icker struggled with reading. Since his attention training began “He seems to be enjoying reading a little bit more and he’s getting better at it,” Jennifer said. “I think it’s all due to their training.”

Reflecting on her children’s experience so far, Jennifer observed, “My children are old enough that once their bodies actually start to focus, they know how that feels. It makes them more alert.” She continued, “The sad thing is that attention isn’t a skill that you can teach. I can’t tell my children, ‘This is how you focus.’ It was something the medicine was doing for them, but NeuroPlus has given them the opportunity to know what that feels like.”

Would you like to see similar results with your family?

Schedule time with an account specialist to learn more about NeuroPlus!

5 Tips for Reaching Your Goals

It’s the season for setting New Year’s resolutions, but how can you keep up with them?

Whether you want to read more, run a marathon, or anything in between, everyone knows setting a goal is the easy part. Staying motivated to reach your target is a whole other story, and one that starts with the neurons in our brains and the way these neurons communicate. Thankfully, based on our current understanding of the science behind motivation, there are some things you can do to keep your eyes – and brain – on the prize.

The science of motivation

Our brains share messages through chemicals called neurotransmitters that help with many different tasks. An important chemical involved in motivation is dopamine, which is often associated with reward pathways in the brain. Dopamine plays a key role in helping us stick to our resolutions by connecting feelings of pleasure to our successes. Every time we make progress towards a goal, or have a tiny victory on the way to achieving it, dopamine pathways in our brain give us positive feelings that strengthen our motivation.

Hacks to achieve your goals

With this knowledge in hand, here are a few things that you can do to trick your brain into staying focused on your goals:

  1. Break down your goals into smaller pieces: Learning a language can feel intimidating, but splitting up your studies into chunks makes it more attainable. Splitting up a big task into smaller pieces is helpful for us to think through how to tackle a goal, and it also reinforces the dopamine-driven rewards we get from crossing off an item from the list. (That’s also why it’s a good idea to include on your to-do list things you’ve already done!)
  2. Block time on your calendar to complete larger tasks: We all have said “I’ll get to that later,” but then later never comes. Psychologically, it’s harder to say no to a notification telling you to stick to your task. Put time in your daily routine to read if you’d like to finish more books. Schedule time in your day to keep up with your resolution.
  3. Track your streak: The longer you keep a streak going, the harder it is to break it. Log your progress with a very visible reminder on a calendar or sticky notes that you keep on your desk. The more you see these reminders, the better.
  4. Reduce temptations: Think about your “future self” and make decisions to nudge him or her in the right direction. If you’re cutting sweets, avoid the candy aisle. If you’re working out after work, don’t go home first before heading to the gym.
  5. Consider regret when temptation strikes: Get the “what if” spiral working in your favor. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, imagining how you’d feel if you missed your weigh in goal by a pound before you grab a snack you don’t need. Turn the difference from where you are and where you think you should be into a positive.

What are your resolutions, and how are you sticking to them?

A Year in Review: Building Better Brains in 2017

2017 has been quite a year for the NeuroPlus team and community!

NeuroPlus 2017 game stats

Together we’ve played 4,860 minutes of brain training games this year. We’ve defeated 109,353 monsters, flown 42,529 meters on our hoverbikes, and collected 5,424 coins.

This year both our research and story were shared on a bigger stage. In April, results from our pilot study were presented at the World Congress on ADHD in Vancouver, Canada. Jake, our founder and CEO, presented both at the Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh and during TEDxCharleston.

585 backers helped us reach our goals by contributing to our Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. Together we were able to send our new brain sensing headset design into production. We also have several new team members who joined the team to help build our games and share our story in art, coding, marketing, and sales.

We also got a few nods to our work. Jake was selected to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Games. And NeuroPlus was featured in Rolling Stone, VentureBeat, IEEE, MobiHealthNews, and dozens of other press outlets.

We’re looking forward to another year filled with fun and personal growth. We’re so grateful to have the support of so many, and are excited to see our community grow!

What are you looking forward to achieving in 2018?

Introducing Andy

Since our crowdfunding efforts, we’re getting ready to introduce ourselves to lots of new members of the NeuroPlus community. We’re all so excited, but none as much as Andy, our Customer Success Manager!

NeuroPlus Customer Success Manager Andy Roth

Andy agreed to answer a few questions. Here’s a bit from our conversation:

Tell the people a little about yourself.
NeuroPlus is my fourth startup, always on the business side. (I am no software developer.) I got into startups after graduating from Duke Law with a master’s degree in entrepreneurship. Before that I was a professional actor in New York City. I’ve had several different careers, and the two things they all have in common are that they’re all high energy and involve working closely with others towards a larger goal. I love contributing to the team – the more collaborating I do with my colleagues, and the more contact I can have with our users, the more I love my job!

Personally, I had a great year watching my hometown Houston Astros win the World Series. Pretty sure my feet haven’t touched the ground since that happened. I recruited half the NeuroPlus office to play trivia because it’s so much fun! I also really enjoy watching movies. It’s hard to choose just one favorite, so some standouts for me are When Harry Met Sally, Rushmore, The Princess Bride, Singin’ in the Rain, The Goonies, and Ikiru – if I really want to be pretentious.

What do you see your role being on the team?
I’m a talker. I love talking to people. As Customer Success Manager, I’m here to make people comfortable with our technology and the investment of time and resources they’re making to train their brains. If I can make anything a little easier for our users, I want to do that.

What makes you excited about work right now?
People can’t wait to get started with the NeuroPlus headset, and I’m counting down the days until we ship them out! I want to get the headset into people’s hands and hear their thoughts about it. In preparation for that, I’m working on different formats to get feedback.

What kind of feedback?
All kinds! If it’s good, I want to hear about it. If it’s bad, I want to hear that too. I’m here to solve any problem, but I need to know about it first! I really want to be an advocate for the users and make sure we’re making a product that people want to use. We already know from the science that it works, so I’m always asking myself, “How can we make people love NeuroPlus?”

You mentioned the science. How important was that for you before joining the team?
Highest importance. I can empathize with people who want to understand how NeuroPlus works. I’m not a science person, but my fiancée is a PhD candidate at UNC in the Psychology Department. I wanted to be sure that I was joining a team that was doing good work that wasn’t slimy or selling a “fad.” I wouldn’t put her work to shame. After going through the research, she agreed how it could help and I was hooked.

Are you a gamer?
Right now I’m playing a lot of Axon because who doesn’t want to be a dragon? I don’t currently play a lot of traditional video games, but I have a soft spot for old school Nintendo games like the Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden series.

If you want to learn about getting the most out of your training, have a technical issue, or a suggestion you’d like to share, you can reach Andy at andy.roth@neuro.plus.

Giving Back

This year has brought a lot of wonderful changes for NeuroPlus. We’re so grateful for those supporters that have helped us along the way, and we want to pay it forward with #GivingTuesday 2017.

To celebrate in the spirit of giving, we have a couple things planned this week through Sunday, December 3. We’ll have special Giving Tuesday perks for anyone that wants to start training or wishes to gift training to someone they know.

Attention issues often present a financial burden for many individuals and families as they find the best solution that works for them. That’s why, for every $2,000 we raise this week, we’re excited to be giving away a headset and lifetime subscription to a family in need.

Help us help others unlock their potential with greater focus and self-control. Happy holidays from us at NeuroPlus!

NeuroPlus Reaches Kickstarter Goal

We’re excited to share that we have reached our NeuroPlus headset Kickstarter fundraising goal. Due to the support of nearly 400 backers, we reached our $100,000 goal with a week to spare! 

Reaching this goal has officially put the NeuroPlus headset into production. After working with the specialists to complete testing, NeuroPlus headsets are on schedule to be shipped to customers early December 2017.

“The team and I are so grateful to have received this level of support,” NeuroPlus CEO Jake Stauch said. “We want to keep the momentum high and are focused on reaching our stretch goal to bring greater access to EEG data.”

Hitting $150,000 will allow the NeuroPlus team to build a research kit so individuals can use the NeuroPlus headset to record raw EEG data and complete EEG experiments. The research kit will enable users to visualize their raw EEG and waveband data (alpha waves, beta waves, theta waves, etc.) in real time, while also providing tools to conduct experiments to see their brain’s response to different stimuli.

We hope the research kit will help neuroscience research step outside of the lab and into more practical settings where people live, work, and play.

For those looking for additional autonomy, we previously announced that we’re producing a Unity SDK to allow other developers to create games compatible with the NeuroPlus headset.

The API will have access to real-time attention, accelerometer data, raw EEG, waveband magnitudes, device battery and contact quality, plus other detections that we’ve not yet finalized. Some of those might include detecting smiles, frowns, blinks, and jaw clenches. Raw EEG will be passed along to the user’s application at the full data rate of 512 Hz. The higher-level detections will be updated at least twice per second, and acceleration 20 times per second.

“We love the creative suggestions we’ve received in the past from our users, and think that opening up our platform will provide NeuroPlus customers with more original content,” said Stauch.

Our Kickstarter campaign will be live until October 27, so if you or someone you know might be interested in getting the NeuroPlus headset, you can still pre-order. Early backers can still take advantage of purchasing the device for the NeuroPlus headset and a year subscription at a discount.

BUY NOW

NeuroPlus Brain-Sensing Headset Launches on Kickstarter

In a world teeming with distractions, the ability to focus and pay attention is crucial, whether at work, on the road or in the classroom. Recent research has shown that this ability, like any skill, can be developed and sharpened, and we’re happy to announce our newest development at NeuroPlus to make training easier. Today we are launching the NeuroPlus brain-sensing headset, which can be found on Kickstarter.

The NeuroPlus EEG headset features a flexible design and an adjustable band to allow for a comfortable fit, no matter the age or hat size of the user.  The adjustable EEG sensor, positioned at the top of the head, enables accurate data collection from brain regions important for the NeuroPlus applications.

Young white adult male wearing NeuroPlus headset

Like a smartphone, the headset also contains an accelerometer, and other sensors, that measure your head and body motion and your muscle tension in calmness and self-control training exercises. The more you can sit still and maintain composure, the better you’ll do in the game.

The headset and software are compatible with iOS and Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) support, and is charged via micro USB.

The NeuroPlus headset will be compatible with the NeuroPlus game-based attention-training system that combines neurofeedback, biofeedback, and cognitive training to improve focus and self-control. The state-of-the-art, easy-to-use EEG headset allows consumers to receive real-time feedback on their brain activity and body movements while they play a set of fun training games.

“Research into neuroplasticity shows training over time can make your brain better at paying attention — just like exercising a muscle,” CEO Jake Stauch said. “In order to see results quickly, we recommend using the program three times per week for at least 20 minutes each session. Our goal is to raise $100,000 to put NeuroPlus into production and bring them into individuals’ homes. NeuroPlus is not a treatment for any condition, but is a specialized, clinically proven, fun and engaging way for everyone to improve focus and self-control.”

Pre-order a NeuroPlus Headset Today!

The NeuroPlus headset is now available with a 1 year subscription to training games on Kickstarter starting at $249. Early backers can take advantage of purchasing the device for nearly 50% off the retail price.

Study by Duke Researcher Proves NeuroPlus Works for Students with ADHD

We’re thrilled to be announcing the results from a pilot study which showed that children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) demonstrated greater focus and decreased hyperactivity and impulsivity after training on the NeuroPlus video games system. The study, which also confirmed the product’s safety, was recently presented at the 6th World Congress on ADHD in Vancouver.

“Parents were asking how we could use our technology to help improve attention and self-control, so NeuroPlus was created with the primary focus to develop a solution that children are comfortable with: video games,” said our CEO Jake Stauch. “We’re excited to see these results, showing NeuroPlus could address the needs of parents hoping to reduce inattention and hyperactivity in their children while also giving anyone, regardless of age, a way to sharpen and improve their focus.”

The study, “Efficacy of a combined neurofeedback, biofeedback and go/no-go training intervention for ADHD: a randomized controlled trial,” was led by Dr. Sandeep Vaishnavi, a neuropsychiatrist at Duke University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Neuropsychiatric Clinic at Carolina Partners in Mental Healthcare. Sixty participants aged 8 to 13 years old with ADHD were enrolled in the study, and subjects were randomly assigned to either 30 minutes of NeuroPlus training 3 times per week or a treatment-as-usual control group that continued their existing treatment regimen. The study lasted 10 weeks, and assessments administered before and after treatment showed improvements in the NeuroPlus group relative to the treatment-as-usual controls.

Statistically significant improvements were observed across multiple outcome measures, including the Conners Global Index (p = 0.010, Cohen’s d = 0.76), Conners Inattention subscale (p = 0.013, Cohen’s d = 0.73), Conners Hyperactivity/Impulsivity subscale (p = 0.040, Cohen’s d = 0.60), and the Quotient ADHD System Global Score (p = 0.005, Cohen’s d = 0.90). No adverse events were reported in the study.

“These results are very promising,” said Dr. Vaishnavi. “There is need to continue this course of study, but this type of training shows promising options for families looking for alternatives to support individuals with ADHD.”

Perquita Peña, a mother of twins with ADHD, has been a NeuroPlus user since January 2017. “I’m so impressed with the drastic changes that I’ve seen with my children’s grades since they started using NeuroPlus,” said Peña. “We don’t use medications because of the side effects, and we’re grateful to have something that really works and is fun for them.”

NeuroPlus was founded by Jake Stauch, who has more than 7 years experience in leading neuro-tech companies. He also previously worked as a researcher at the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Stauch is passionate about using brain-training technologies to help people live their best lives with better focus and attention spans.

“Alongside a healthy lifestyle that includes proper sleep, diet, and exercise, we’re excited that NeuroPlus can make a difference for anyone looking to improve their focus and self-control,” said Stauch.

NeuroPlus is not meant to be a treatment for ADHD, nor is it marketed for those purposes.

Customer Spotlight: Kate

We recently spoke with Christian, a father of 2nd grader Kate, who started training with NeuroPlus at the beginning of the summer.

“This system just made sense,” mentioned Christian, when asked about why he was initially interested in NeuroPlus. “My daughter was already playing a lot of games on the phone and tablet.” In a time where devices rule, it was appealing to Christian to let his daughter play a game and practice the skills that would help her excel. “It’s packaged well and has all the components that you’d need.”

Kate’s been engaged in training, and he’s already started to see changes in Kate’s focus and impulse control. At the end of the last school year, Kate could do about 12 addition or subtraction problems in 1 minute, getting distracted and having difficulty focusing on the task in front of her. Christian set up a program with Kate this summer, training with the NeuroPlus games and keeping her math skills sharp, they’ve already seen dramatic improvements.

“I can say that we’ve seen nearly 100% improvement on this task. I just tested my daughter and she was able to complete 22 problems in 60 seconds,” Christian said.

Kate’s just started the new school year and Christian has high hopes that continued training with NeuroPlus will help Kate permanently stop using the medication to help her focus. “She’s already saying, ‘I don’t need the medicine,’ and I hope we can finally end that soon.”

We asked Christian if he’s tried out the games at all. “Yes, and they’re no joke,” Christian laughs. “The games let you know when you’re distracted and losing focus, but they’re fun. I’m happy we found NeuroPlus.”

We’re excited to follow Kate’s growth in the new school year! If you’re interested in learning how to train your focus while playing a game, you can learn more at our website, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.