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Vigilance and attention are very important aspects of our working capacities and our general wellbeing as well. Besides taking drugs, they can in principle also be achieved with an appropriate transcranial pulsed magnetic field (MF) stimulation. In the reported research, we took the entrainment principle as the leading one, trying to enhance the volunteers’ high beta waves. The research conformed to clinical testing conditions. We checked the volunteers’ state by monitoring their physiological parameters, their responses following the visual analog scale (VAS) method, and their performance with the Clock test of sustained attention. In addition to observing the differences between the true stimulation and the sham one, we also checked the psychological influences. The results demonstrated overall enhanced relaxation with MF stimulation that was further improved by expectation. Relaxation, better nervous energy conservation, and better performance (reduction of errors) may be concluded from all parts of the research.
Participants and Methods
The research was performed in May 2019 in the laboratories of the Institute for Bioelectromagnetics and New Biology (BION Institute) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU.
25 volunteers aged from 29 to 76 years (13 women and 12 men) were subject to three different experimental situations:
- Double-blind sham stimulation (Control situation),
- Double-blind true stimulation (Verum situation),
- Informed true stimulation (Informed situation)
In the first two situations, the volunteers were treated with conditions of a clinical trial:
- Prospectiveness (general criteria for the effectiveness of the device’s activity were determined in advance);
- Placebo effect ruled out (volunteers did not know whether they were stimulated or not)
- Double-blind (neither the volunteer nor the research assistant knew whether the MF stimulation was applied or not)
- Randomized (the decisions about sham or true exposure were made randomly)
A PEMF headband device utilizing a frequency of 33.71 Hz on the occiput (1 coil) – with the intensity of 2.5 mT. Coils with another frequency of 54 Hz were placed on the occiput (1 coil), temporal lobes – left (2 coils), and right (2 coils) with an intensity of 0.25 Hz.
The following parameters were measured: brainwave activity (EEG) in four standard frequency spectra (beta waves from 14 Hz upwards, alpha waves from 8 to 14 Hz, theta waves from 4 to 8 Hz, and delta waves from 0 to 4 Hz), skin conductance, heart rate, respiration rate, finger temperature, heart rate variability, and thorax expansion depth. For the sake of analysis and interpretation of the results, 30 minutes of measurements were split into three parts (each consisting of 20 data points with a calculated 30-second median)
Each volunteer attended the measurements thrice at the same hour of the day. At the arrival, he/she filled out the questionnaire and completed the visual analog scale (VAS) test. The research assistant then placed the device on his/her head in an appropriate position and attached the electrodes needed for the measurements of physiological parameters. All the preparations before the measurements took about 10 minutes and during this time the device was already stimulating volunteers. This 10 minutes pre-treatment was intended to extend the stimulation period to about 40 minutes in total. During the measurements, which lasted for 30 minutes, volunteers sat in a wooden chair in front of a computer and were doing the modified Clock test from the PEBL Psychological Test Battery. This test is a computerized version of the Mackworth Clock device and is used in the field of experimental psychology to study the effects of long-term vigilance on the detection of signals. The test took approximately 30 minutes to complete. After the removal of the electrodes, the volunteer again completed the VAS test and the questionnaire enabling the comparison between before and after for each tested situation.
- Statistically significant differences between the Verum and the Control situations for various physiological parameters strongly confirm the objective bioeffects of the stimulating MF of the Omnipemf device.
- The expectation of higher vigilance (present in the Informed situation) improved the impact of the MF itself (Verum), which is mainly indicated by the same direction of the effect vs. control, especially when there was a statistically significant difference between Verum and Informed (SC, TMP parameters). This was further confirmed in the Clock test with the error rate parameter and especially with the mean reaction time.
- However, we find the lowest number of significant differences regarding physiological parameters in comparisons between both stimulating situations, Verum and Informed, where only three such differences were found. This indicates that the applied MF itself induced the majority of differences against sham exposure and that expectations only improved this impact.
- Surprisingly, brain activity did not demonstrate important differences between different situations; consequently, the entrainment effect has not been confirmed. We assume that volunteers were already fully engaged in the Clock test so that their brain activity reached a plateau.
- VAS measurements in the relaxation parameter corroborated the electrophysiological ones.
- Relaxation, better nervous energy conservation, and better performance (reduction of errors) may be concluded from all parts of the research.
- The fact that expectations of enhancing attention effect worked in the same sense as the blind MF stimulation corroborates the assumption that the MF stimulation regime used in the research acted in the direction of enhancing vigilance, although the volunteers, in general, did not recognize, when they were under stimulation.
- BION Institute: Enhancing Vigilance by Low-Intensity Transcranial Pulsed Magnetic Stimulation Applying the Entrainment Model. LINK.
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