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.

NeuroPlus at TEDxCharleston

We’re happy to announce that our CEO Jake Stauch has been chosen as a TEDxCharleston speaker at the live event Wednesday, October 18, 2017 from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the Charleston Music Hall.

“I’m excited to share the capabilities of video games to improve attention,” said Stauch. “Some people question the impact of video games on our attention, but the research shows there could be surprising benefits.”

On stage, Jake will be looking into the future to the day when video games could be a solution for ADHD. By discussing research and breakthroughs, attendees will hear about how games can lead the way to improvements now.

Other speakers highlighted at the event can be found here, and if you’re local, you can access tickets online August 22. You can also follow along with the event by registering for the livestream. Hear something cool? Chat with NeuroPlus on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or check out TEDxCharleston’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr accounts.

In anticipation of the live event, we wanted to share three previous TED Talks that talk about how gaming is making a positive impact in individuals’ lives.

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world [20:03]
McGonigal studied how games provide people with the experience of achieving an “epic win” and opportunities to stay motivated and overcome failure or frustration. She argues that virtual worlds provide us the platform to practice collaboration, creative problem solving, and social skills.

Daphne Bavelier: Your game on video games [17:57]
Bavelier, a researcher, talks through her research that indicate how video games could be helping practicing skills after playing including focus, multitasking, and vision. She makes the argument that by looking at video games as a tool that can improve our performance when done in moderation, we can see direct improvements over time.

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain [16:28]
It’s easy to be drawn into video games that feels far from the real world – crushing candy, catapulting animals, building cities, etc. The reward systems of these games captivate and motivate us, building upon human nature, to achieve more points and excel in these virtual worlds. Chatfield talks through the elements that make an interesting video game, and we argue that these elements that could very well be manipulated to encourage learning skills in any environment.

Photo courtesy of Edith Howle.

What Your Brain Looks Like on NeuroPlus Video Games

Families that train with and play NeuroPlus games have seen some amazing results. Whether you’re familiar with biofeedback and neurofeedback or they’re totally new concepts to you, we wanted to break down the scientific foundation of our games and how players and families can see improvements in focus, body control, and impulsivity by using the product. We’ll start by explaining how we measure focus by looking at the building blocks of your brain and the way scientists track if someone’s paying attention.

Focus
Neurons, the cells that help you think and feel, communicate by shooting electrical signals to each other in a big network throughout our bodies. When groups of neurons fire together, they leave traces that can be detected as brainwaves through an EEG (electroencephalogram) device. These brainwave signals can be separated into general clusters that doctors and researchers recognize. Right now, there’s not a scientific consensus about why or how these signals work this way. The different types of brainwaves are named after Greek letters, and the ones we use for NeuroPlus games are the beta and theta waves.

Scientists have identified a relationship between beta and theta brainwaves that indicate when someone is paying attention. Higher beta and lower theta is generally associated with more attention. There’s even an assessment called NEBA that doctors sometimes use when diagnosing someone with ADHD. Similar to that assessment, our system looks at a player’s beta and theta waves every 1 second or so, and determines the relationship between these two patterns. When the ratio is high (beta is high, theta is low), the player is rewarded, while a low ratio – indicating less focus – is punished. In the game that might translate to a player going faster when he’s paying attention or slower when he needs to focus more. When he first starts playing the game it might be hard to know exactly what it feels like to pay attention, but it’s something that comes with a little bit of practice.

Body control
It’s often hard to focus when you can’t sit still, and that’s why body control is the second pillar in the NeuroPlus system. The EEG headset that tracks brainwaves when you play NeuroPlus games also has an accelerometer that can tell if a player is moving around too much. When the game detects this kind of movement, the player is penalized in the game environment. They may, for example, lose control of their vehicle or lose points. This kind of feedback within the game leads to recognizable benefits in everyday life. With many people, constant movement and fidgeting are hard habits to break. Practicing with NeuroPlus helps individuals become more aware of their bodies and improves self-control.

Impulse control
The final pillar of our games is getting a player to react to the right stimuli on the screen and to ignore what’s not important through what we call go/no-go tasks. Researchers use this same type of technology in cognitive training therapy, challenging players to decide quickly when to react to something and when to ignore it. In NeuroPlus games, there is a lot happening by design. Go/no-go training is combined with the other pillars to make it more challenging and therefore more effective for the players. Stimuli appear rapidly on the screen and the player has to react as fast as possible, deciding whether to tap it or ignore it based on the game’s instructions. The player will not do well if they’re hyper focused on only one aspect of the game, or if they’re just passively paying attention. The player has to tap the stimulus correctly in order to earn points or avoid costly penalties.

Practice makes perfect
As with anything practice makes perfect. Since the foundation of NeuroPlus games are made from all three pillars—focus, body control, and impulse control—players see improvements not only within the game, but also in other aspects of their lives over time. We’ve seen these results within independent, blinded research and heard about them from individuals that can perform better in meetings or families that say a child is able to focus better on homework and get better grades.

If you’d like to try out NeuroPlus, you can sign up here, or schedule a time to talk to someone from our team about your questions.

To stay current on NeuroPlus news, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Photo courtesy of Jesse Orrico.

What is NeuroPlus? An overview

Are you curious about NeuroPlus, but would like to know more?

You’ve come to the right place.

NeuroPlus is a game-based attention training program clinically proven to help individuals, especially those with attention difficulties, exercise their brain in order to develop and improve their focus and self-control.

One of our neurofeedback training games, Conduit
One of our neurofeedback training games, Conduit

How does it work?

NeuroPlus incorporates neurofeedback, motion-based biofeedback, and cognitive attention training to help improve focus, calmness, and self-control.
These methods are embedded in a mobile training games (iOS and Android compatible) that are controlled by a brain-sensing EEG headband.

Neurofeedback
With NeuroPlus, the same neurofeedback strategies typically seen in clinical settings are now available for home use, and at a fraction of the price. NeuroPlus users wear a dry, wireless, easy-to-use EEG headband that measures their brain waves, and play a training game that challenges them to amplify patterns of brain activity associated with focus. The better they’re able to show the right kind of brain activity, the better they perform in the game. Depending on the game, users’ focus will control the speed of a flying dragon, the size of an energy shield, or the brightness of lights in a dark tunnel. What could be more fun than playing a video game with your brain?

Motion biofeedback

Accelerometers and sensors in the headband also monitor the user’s movements and muscle tension, so that the game can give them feedback on their level of calmness. While playing the training game, users must maintain complete control of their bodies and remain absolutely still and relaxed in order to avoid penalties. If they move too much or are too tense, their dragon might falter, or their hover-bike might crash into a wall! Practicing this kind of relaxation can help users maintain calmness and self-control in everyday scenarios.

Cognitive attention training
To further practice and develop self-control, NeuroPlus users are challenged with “go/no-go tasks” requiring them to quickly and accurately respond to stimuli and ignore distractions. Different colored dragons might attack them, for example, and they’ll be instructed to only respond to a given color, ignoring others. Or, they’ll have to scan a cave for treasure and only respond to certain signals. In this way, users practice the act of self-control while also developing working memory and reaction-time skills.

Axon, another NeuroPlus training game
Axon, another NeuroPlus training game

Does it work?
Yes. A registered, randomized, controlled, blinded clinical study showed NeuroPlus to dramatically improve attention while reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and learning problems in children. This was after only 10 weeks of training, 3 times per week. Those results will be published in full in the coming months.
In addition to this study, there is overwhelming evidence supporting neurofeedback as an effective tool for improving attention skills in individuals. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics classifies neurofeedback as a Level 1 – Best Support Treatment for ADHD, the same rating given to medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.Dozens of clinical studies have shown the protocols used in NeuroPlus to be effective for improving attention and reducing hyperactivity/impulsivity. Here are two recent from the scientific literature, with more research available on our website.

Duric et al. (2012): Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. Neurofeedback improves attention and reduces hyperactivity as well as methylphenidate (Ritalin®). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/12/107

Steiner et al. (2014): Neurofeedback and Cognitive Attention Training for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Schools. Neurofeedback produces sustained improvements in attention after only 3 months of training. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/02/11/peds.2013-2059.abstract

How do I sign up?

Please visit http://www.neuro.plus to sign up and learn more. If you have additional questions, you can email us at info@neuro.plus, or give us a call at (866) 730-6619.

Happy training!

Now Available: Neuro+ Attention Training Software

After 4 years of development, we’re happy to announce that Neuro+ is now available to the public.
Axon Neuro+Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.59.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.59.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-17 at 3.58.53 PM
What is Neuro+?
Neuro+ is a game-based attention training program designed to
help individuals, especially those with ADHD, exercise their brain in order to develop and improve their attention skills.How does it work?Neuro+ incorporates neurofeedback, motion-biofeedback,
and go/no-go cognitive training to help improve focus,
body self-control, and impulse-control. Below is a brief description of each training tool:Neurofeedback: Users wear a dry, wireless, easy-to-use EEG headset and play a training game that challenges them to focus in order to advance through a series of fun and engaging exercises.
Motion-biofeedback: While playing the training game, users must maintain complete control of their bodies and remain absolutely still in order to avoid costly point penalties.
Go/no-go training: To practice impulse control, users are challenged with “go/no-go tasks” requiring them to quickly and accurately respond to stimuli and ignore distractions.
Most users see results after only 6 weeks of training 30 minutes per day, 2-3 times per week.
Is it effective for ADHD?
Neuro+ provides detailed analytics of users performance and improvement over time.
Neuro+ provides detailed analytics of users performance and improvement over time.

There is overwhelming evidence supporting neurofeedback as an effective tool for improving attention skills in individuals suffering from ADHD. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics classifies neurofeedback as a Level 1 – Best Support Treatment for ADHD, the same rating given to medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Dozens of clinical studies have shown the protocols used in Neuro+ to be effective for improving focus and reducing hyperactivity/impulsivity. Below are some recent findings from the scientific literature, with more research available on our website www.neuropl.us

Duric et al. (2012): Neurofeedback for the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD: a randomized and controlled clinical trial using parental reports. Neurofeedback improves attention and reduces hyperactivity as well as methylphenidate (Ritalin®). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/12/107

Steiner et al. (2014): Neurofeedback and Cognitive Attention Training for Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Schools. Neurofeedback produces sustained improvements in attention after only 3 months of training. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/02/11/peds.2013-2059.abstract

How do I sign up?
Please visit http://www.neuropl.us to sign up and learn more. You can see Neuro+ in action in the video below: