Is there really no affordable + user friendly Neurofeedback hardware/software out there?

Hi wjcroft, AdamM!

I can’t disclose our business model right now (soon to be unveiled…), but I can tell you that neuromore will always be supportive of the maker community and users that want to experiment for themselves. There are a lot of people holding EEG headsets in their hands right now who are looking for processing software and can’t find anything useful (I’m looking at you, Emotiv).

@wjcroft Thanks for note, I’ll dive further into Val Brown’s research; but my general impression was that protocol is actually very simple (the research most likely isn’t, of course)

@AdamM: Right now our users can create their own classifiers (that’s what we call the protocols) with the Studio and share them with others. We would very much like to see a whole community develop around our Tool. Everyone should be able to create stuff with our tools for free, as long as they don’t use it commercially. We will not be making our money with makers.

Regarding NFB protocols: We provide some simple example classifiers, but they are mostly used for demonstrations of our features. We will provide working and well-known NFB protocols for all supported devices soon.
And regarding the universal NFB protocol: I guess it’s possible, but only if one entity dictates the format. Maybe we should :D.

Does anyone know any NFB protocol formats that are commonly used? I guess every tool uses its own?

  • manu

@JAY I have started writing a reply a few days ago but didn’t finish or post it. I see there have been some more discussions since I checked last. NFB is an extremely technical field. It is also multi-disciplinary. For that reason you will NEVER find a simple turn-key solution. Here are my (outdated?) comments:

24-channel NFB? Wow, this science must have moved on at a break-neck speed these last two years. No, I don’t have links to 2-channel NFB protocols, research papers or whatever. Have you got links, research papers, etc. to 24-channel NFB?

NFB practitioners, those that do NFB to earn a living, and Neuroscientists could not sit further on opposite ends of the table. And ditto for the equipment they use. I have followed the yahoo braintrainer group for at least three years (I still keep an eye on them, but have not actively followed them the last 2 or 3 years due to time constrains). I repeat, these guys use two-channel equipment and protocols. Some people have brought the 4-channel Q-Wiz ($1000) and some people have the Optima-4, also a 4-channel amp. A 4-channel system will speed up the TLC mapping (a sort of time-division-multiplexed qEEG) But otherwise, while I was still actively following them, nobody would have known what to do with 2 extra channels. I think Stephan Odermatt (Switzerland) was one of the first people to tinker and develop some 4-ch BE protocols. It is likely that Peter might have included some 4-ch protocol support into his updated TLC package, simply due to the availability of the above-mentioned amplifiers at affordable prices.

Peter van Deusen was a hospital administrator many, many years ago, but today, NFB is all he does. I have a tremendous respect for him, he and also many of his followers on his user group, are extremely helpful. His website is He sells equipment, his TLC training programs and NFB protocol suite for BioExplorer.

To learn NFB will cost money. Going the TLC route will be the most cost effective way. There are many other people and organizations that give training but these will literally cost thousands of US$. Most of these will also lock you into using their hardware and software. For instance, the Othmers ( use their Neuroamp and Cygnet. Cygnet is a derivative of Jarek Foltynskis’ BioEra.

For those that can afford it, go buy a 4-channel Optima-4 or the Q-Wiz, otherwise even a second-hand Pendant, QDS Focus or even an openEEG amp will be sufficient to start learning. Don’t spend too much money because there is most probably only a 20% chance that you will stick it out.

Jay, I gather you have openBCI. I would recommend that you house it in an enclosure and fit it with at least a few DIN sockets. Then buy yourself some DIN cables and decent electrodes. BTW, I am not sure if openBCI has BE support. Forget the idea of using dry electrodes. Prep your sites and use conductive paste. Only work with two channels for now. So you will only use about 4 or 5 electrodes and placement is then not too difficult or critical. Then download a demo version of BioExplorer and try out the sample protocols that are included. Join braintrainer and become a silent observer. Look at the TLC packages and consider if you are willing to fork out the money for that. Trying to learn NFB completely on your own without spending some money on training will exasperate the learning curve and you are unlikely to see it through.

You need to learn to crawl before you can walk. And you need to walk before you can run. Stop day-dreaming about 24-channel NFB and learn to ride a bicycle first. There are enough practical challenges to overcome. Placing electrodes. Getting good contact. Reducing 50/60Hz noise. Learn to live with movement artifacts, etc., etc. You need a lot of patience. You need to tolerate having gung in your hair (conductive paste). Learn to accept that you will NOT be able to do NFB by simply placing an Emotiv-like spider onto your head.

Finally a bit of a warning. A lot of people will disagree with me: I believe that NFB can be very effective when performed correctly. I also believe it can be “damaging” if done incorrectly. An experienced NFB practitioner, when confronted with a negative outcome can simply undo such. A novice might not. That is also the reason I am against BCI games. A BCI-game will “close the loop” resulting in uncontrolled and not-understood (by the game developer) NFB. The same Gaming algorithm can (potentially) be used over and over for hours on end… A shrink will surely tell you that playing an ordinary game for so many hours is no good, not to mention BCI gaming! Fortunately, for the “bang, bang, you are dead” gaming junkie, BCI-games will always be lethargic and too in-accurate to control and will therefore always remain on the fringe.

I do not claim that any and all BCI-games can be damaging, it is a matter of how these games are implemented. Damage is a possibility. Similarly, I am sure there are quite a few NFB protocols that a newbie could safely experiment with. Please don’t ask me what those might be. I don’t operate in that domain. I just know enough to be dangerous – LOL.

Use the contents of this little assay or don’t use it. My time is an as scarce commodity as ever, and I will not be able to go into endless message exchanges here or elsewhere.

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Thanks @Manuel_Jerger, I actually have both the Muse and OpenBCI. I’ve been watching Neuromore on twitter since it popped up on one of these forums. Looks really promising.

@Stefanj, forgive me Stefan, I think this is where my ignorance on this subject trips me (which is probably because it is such a technical field). When you say channels, I thought you mean electrodes (perhaps you still do), i’ve tried to read up about it again and if that’s the case, this is what I don’t get, brainwaves are measured with a head covered in a lot of electrodes but then the training is done only with a couple of them? Again, I feel like I am missing or misunderstanding something. How does that even work?

I’ve also heard that NFB can be damaging if done incorrectly. That’s part of my worry about just trying it myself with some put together parts and software. I’ve also heard Andrew Hill on a few podcasts describe cases of where this happened. And in addition to that, in a conversation with him he at least claims that even emotiv and Muse are not sufficient to make any useful change with their neurofeedback due to both lack of sufficient electrodes (Muse has 5 if we don’t count the ears, right?) as well as the placement being frontal lobe only. But of course Andrew has a clinic where they offer NFB services at $100 per session so I have no idea if he is biased or not. I don’t think he is but I don’t know enough to even begin to guess.

Thanks again for the info, did not mean to waste your time or drag you into a pointless discussion with a novice. I’m just trying to understand how all this works and if I can actually benefit from this technology before i’m 80 years old or without coughing up $4000. Doesn’t look like it right now.

Jay, did you look around Pete van Deusen’s site? If you go through some of the tutorial material there you can get an overview of the process. Yes, the brainmap portion does sample from a larger set of electrodes (typically just 2 or 4 channels at a time.) To build up a map of points containing say from 10 to 19 or 20 sites. (Using the 10-20 map locations.)

After the map is generated and analyzed (with an Excel spreadsheet and probably with Pete’s consult as you get started.) You then run on your own a small group of ‘protocols’ that nudge the brainwaves in the desired directions. Rewarding some frequency bands / locations. Inhibiting other bands. This training again uses a small number of channels, mostly 2 and 4 channels at a time. After some number of trainings / sessions, another map is generated to see how things are progressing, and if adjustments in the protocols need to be made.

re: your $4000 figure; I mentioned on a previous post in this thread that you can get started with Pete’s system for about $1000. This covers the Pocket Neurobics amp, Bioexplorer, and Pete’s protocol package. It would also be wise to have some hand holding by Pete or someone on his staff to answer your questions, help with the protocol selection. This occasional consult will cost you extra, but not that much.


Thanks @wjcroft, i have looked at it. But forgive me, and i really don’t mean to sound dismissive, but to me his website/offers is the epitome of the problem I was hoping to avoid.

For one, $1000 is not cheap either, but it definitely beats 4K. However nothing I find on that site gives me the confidence that any of what is sold there is something I can do on my own, let alone with a “cobble together on your own” kind of thing (including the equipment, the protocols, and the learning curve). + the dangers of doing it wrong. Just look at Stefan’s description/recommendations for what I should do. Just reading that feels overwhelming, I can’t imagine what trying to actually do it would feel like.

Maybe my bar is too high, due to my lack of understanding of the complexity of all of this, and again, perhaps I am not as technical as I had hoped, the more I learn the stupider i feel. But everything I see and read there screams to me that it’s not worth messing with. If the barrier is $1000 + MAJOR complexity, I rather just try to raise $4000 and trust an expert to take care of everything.

Again, I could be wrong, but my sense is that the technology to make this both accessible and affordable is already here, but the demand never existed before now. Messing with these very un-user friendly systems is just not something I have the capacity or desire to deal with anymore.

When the Muse came out I was hoping that it would be the solution to all of this, but it looks like it might just be a stepping stone towards it. For now, I have to be either patient or rich.

I watch videos like this (especially from around min 30) where they talk about “we achieved this” and “we achieved that” using neurofeedback, in some cases even years ago, and I think, where is all this technology? just in the lab? Same thing with the work that Adam Gazzaley is doing. These people have been at it for a long time and according to the scientific papers they all publish they are doing some amazing things, and yet none of it is accessible to anyone. Drives me crazy. (sorry for the rant)

@Jay, hi. Yes thanks for that video of Jay Gunkelman, I watched that livestreaming and have been forwarding the link on Twitter and emails.

re: “nothing… gives me the confidence… there is something I can do on my own”. @Stefanj recommended that you checkout Pete’s Brain-Trainer Yahoo group. You can see folks there navigating the complexities. You’re obviously a geek, this is not hard.

If you are just looking for enhanced meditative / altered states, then the brainmap part is not so necessary. Remember, many are using Pete’s protocols for situations such as ADHD, where a careful assessment is important before “jumping in” assuming you know what to do.

JayG mentioned Jim Hardt’s work. That makes pretty outrageous claims “40 years of Zen in 1 week”. You can do quite well in a similar vein with simpler 2, 4, or 5 channel alpha synchrony protocols. Open Focus uses a 5 channel version at Fpz Oz Cz T3 T4. These 5 channels are summed and the reward is based on that amplitude. Another general purpose protocol is Alpha-Theta, to produce hypnogogic states.

Many of the headsets come with simple protocols that train up or down certain bands. If that is what you want to do, I think you already have it. You could take your Muse and the neuromore and do whatever you want. OpenBCI would be needed for the Open Focus if you want the 5 channel version.

Neurofeedback as a clinical modality, or Brain-Trainer style map assessments are needed to handle the general case. You don’t want to make assumptions about what is going on. That is the source of the cautions you are seeing. With a map and help with the interpretation, arbitrary home protocols then become possible.

High end is another story altogether, and is only being sold to licensed practitioners, from companies like Brainmaster, where you see Z-score training, sLORETA (training at 3D sites, not just at the surface), etc. But you can do a whole lot with just 2 channels and patience.

I just forwarded to Pete an email with links to the neuromore site. I think it would be a stellar idea if neuromore started collaborating with him to support his protocols on neuromore headsets and amps.

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@Jay, Yes the electrode issue is the first confusing bit for newbies. EEG amplifiers of 1, 2 and 4 channel design almost 100% use an instrumentation amplifier at the front-end which is a difference amplifier. I.e. it has a positive polarity input and a negative polarity input. The amplifier only amplifies the DIFFERENCE between Inp+ and Inp-. Any common mode signal such as noise, 50/60Hz mains pickup, etc. is rejected.

The negative input is also called the reference input and most of the time, the reference inputs of 2, 3 or 4 channels are all connected together with jumper cables and run via single cable to ONE electrode. (Doing that however has a disadvantage in noise suppression).

You also need another electrode on your head normally called the DRL. The name DRL comes from ECG equipment and it’s application where it stands for Driven Right Leg. It is not an input to the amplifier, but as the name suggests, an OUTPUT of the amp and “drives” the “body” to a DC level that falls within the dynamic range of the amplifier.

So for 1-channel you need a minimum of 3 electrodes (CH1+, CH1- and DRL).
For 2 channels you need a minimum of 4 electrodes (CH1+. CH2+, [CH1- and CH2- combined] and DRL.

Now what about many channel amplifiers? Instrumentation amplifiers are rather expensive when used in quantities of 8, 16, 24, 32 or even more. Not only that, but adding so many extra reference input connectors (Normally touch-proof medical DIN connectors) would make equipment (1) expensive, (2) physically much larger and (3) would be a nightmare to use because the user would end up having to jumper all these inputs together.

I already pointed out that if you jumper the reference inputs on a 2-channel amplifier, you will (at least theoretically) deteriorate the amplifier’s capability to reject common mode noise. With a 8 or 16 or more channel amplifier that would be even more so. For all these reasons, many channel amplifiers as used for BCI and clinics, etc. are just about always monopolar or also called unipolar amplifiers. These only have one input per channel.

Emotiv is a 14 channel monopolar design. Emotiv also uses a DRL but it has another common input called CMS (common sense input) used as a overall amplifier ground reference.

I have not had the opportunity to open and inspect any other many-channel amplifiers, but the CMS/DRL arrangement I believe is normal practice when using monopolar amplifiers.

Some, or even many/most professional amplifiers can be configured as differential amplifiers. But normally, in that case, two monopolar channels are used and the data is subtracted in the digital domain. This will give a poor common mode rejection ratio, and thus not very good noise suppression.

OpenBCI uses the Texas Instrument’s ADS1299 chip which has differential inputs (but I don’t believe that they have true INA’s implemented in silicon).

Finally, I don’t think a poor performing amplifier will be able to cause NFB “damage”. If the hardware is lousy, your measured signals will be more noise than actual real EEG data. If you process that noise and feed it back to your brain, the latter will not be able to lock on it. Only if you have REAL EEG data, obtained from self, you apply a protocol and close the loop, can that potentially cause negative consequences due to inappropriate selected/designed NFB protocol(s).

In the above paragraph, I refer to “self”. What I mean is this: where you to feed processed (protocolled) data from a different person other than yourself, that too would be meaningless to your own brain. Your brain would simply reject that as noise. ALSO, there is a certain data latency. This is mostly due to the finite time your PC uses to process the data according to your NFB protocol. For NFB, this time should be kept as short as possible. If it would take a second or longer to process and feed back the data, that TOO would be not acceptable for your brain, and again, it would simply be seen as some noise.

I am only scratching the surface here… but yeah, that is how it is with a complicated subject matter.

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Stefan, hi.

ADS1299 uses a Delta Sigma design, so does away for the need of Instrumentation Amplifiers.

Pins are brought out for either per channel differential + - access. Or can use a common reference, which is the default. The DRL you mention is called Bias on the ADS1299, and has the same function.

Below I’ve cut and pasted a recent post by Pete van Deusen on his Yahoo Group called “braintrainer”. It’s from last week, and he mentions a new blog series starting in September. It will be chapters from his upcoming book. Once that link is up on his site, you can subscribe and get each new post. (Not up until September.)

Aug 17 3:31 PM

A number of you have been after me for a while–some for QUITE a while–to begin putting down my approach to brains and brain-training in book form. Now, as the TLC7 nears a level of stability, we have a sophisticated but simple, powerful but cost-effective integrated system, and I have Karen and Rah to do all my work for me in the US and Viviane, Gislaine and Mariana in Brazil, I’m running out of excuses.

I’ve decided to write at least the first part of the book in full view (makes it harder to wimp out) by beginning a blog in September. It will be accessible on the brain-trainer site, and you’ll be able to subscribe to it, so you get a reminder when each new segment comes out (at least weekly).

The working title of the book is Brain Magic: Making Your Life Come True. In Part I, it will set forth my rather “off-center” view of what happens when we train a brain, who should be able to do it, for what reasons and some alternative views of how it works. Part II will provide a detailed view of the practical issues of brain training as a kind of manual or guide.

Alternating with the articles each week will be a post of a question and answer relating to specific issues.

Hope you’ll find this interesting and give it a look. If you like it, subscribe and tell your friends about it. I hope it will be as entertaining as it is informative and will help us all to define a more inclusive view of this remarkable technology.

Stay tuned,


Peter Van Deusen
USA 678 224 5895
BR 47 3346 6235
The Learning Curve, Inc.

Pete has begun his blog posts with chapters from his upcoming book. (See previous post just above describing the book, “Brain Magic”.) You can sign up at the link below to receive emails when new sections arrive.

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I am Jonathan, the developer of OpenNFB. The software is not yet in a usable state for a real public announcement, but i decided that it might be a good idea to mention it, since @curiositry already stumbled upon it. I could use some help from fellow developers and other inspiration from potential users.

OpenNFB will offer features similar to BrainBay/BioExplorer and the likes, but relies on code instead of visual programming to wire up things. The implementation is based on Python, and uses the Lua scripting language for (live-)coding protocols.

One of the nearer goals is to implement the BioExplorer client interface, so it can be used with existing feedback games like InnerTube. Later, some open source games/visualisations could be implemented, based on a similar interface.

On the hardware side, i am working with the OpenBCI, but this can be easily extended.

Best Regards,

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Thanks for joining the discussion Jonathan. I’ve been watching OpenNFB on GitHub for a while, and it looks like you’re making good progress. It will be a great addition to the limited collection of open-source EEG, BCI, and neurofeedback software out there.

Let me know when OpenNFB reaches a mostly-stable alpha or beta version. I’d be into writing a tutorial/introduction/shout out on our blog at once I’ve familiarized myself with it. Great work!

Thanks for the link William — subscribed!

I think I found perhaps the only one that seems to fit the bill so to speak (affordable, user friendly, complete solution) for what I was looking for. Not sure how this flew under the radar until now:

If anyone really wants dig into the full scope of this they have four 1 hour webinars about all the aspects of it, i’m currently half way through:

Still a ton of questions but I am set to talk to these folks soon. Also would love anyone’s take if they are familiar with this. Looks promising.

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Thanks for the update @Jay.

I know nothing about Versus, but It looks interesting for sure. Dry sensors, in a headset that includes the top of the head – a combination I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Versus has been focussed on the sports training market, which may be why it seems relatively unknown in the general NFB arena.

I don’t see any indication of a way to access the raw data, which would make it a non-starter for research or experimental uses, but it looks like they may have hit a sweet spot between price, capability and ease of use for turn-key NFB. (Assuming their hardware and training protocols are good. Being a proprietary system, this may be hard to determine other than by personal experience…)

Be sure to let us know what you find out.

Thanks @Jay for the link to Versus… I have been exploring the site and the set up now and I currently am in agreement with you… it might be the best “off the shelf” entry level system out there. I am also on a Mac and that seems to be an issue in that most platforms are PC based. Do let me know if you buy it and what kind of results you might be getting… Certainly an amazing time to be getting into this field. I too am interested in Lucid Dreaming.
Oh another thing to check out is FiberNavigator… way interesting visual 3d brain imaging software.

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My pleasure @redinhawaii.

To start, i ordered it Wed, it arrived the next morning. There wasn’t even an expedited shipping option, they just ship it same day. Love that. So I already had a chance to do the assessment (their equivalent of the QEEG) and run the first training session.

I also attended a webinar that was geared towards clinicians and trainers. I think they are approaching it that way as there is already an established infrastructure. But audience questions definitely indicate that they are worried this might replace the need for them.

They said that it doesn’t do everything that a full system can do, like treating brain trauma, at least for the simple reasons that it is not a 19 channel, and can’t target specific areas beyond what it has.

It also seems like their approach with athletes is two fold (and might be a little reassuring if true):

  1. They were working with athletes before they even thought of making NFB headset and were helping athletes with the standard clinical eeg. They are saying that the reason they built this thing is to allow the athletes they work with to do the sessions remotely and on their own with an iphone or ipad. (as minimum effective total training time is 450 minutes according to them, and it needs to be spread at a max of 20 min per day). So they wanted to apply regular NFB to athletes, not NFB that’s based on athletes to regular people.

  2. Since they already had all these top athletes they work with, and since those are what most people consider top performers, they could use them for marketing in the hope of making this more accessible and digestible to a wider audience.

At least this is my understanding of it. If they really wanted to allow their clients to have nearly the same level of NFB as they can provide them with in office but without having to bring them in each time, then I can’t imagine they would build something that is less effective for most use cases.

Unfortunately I don’t understand NFB enough to even start comparing. Also I discovered something very sad in this field. Nearly every person i spoke to that is doing something in NFB has been critical or damn right dismissive of all other formats of NFB. I’ve heard clinicians who do NFB dismiss Muse and Emotiv headsets, i’ve heard clinicians who do QEEG dismiss those who don’t and those who don’t saying those who do are just trying to squeeze more money out of you. and i’ve heard researchers who do high end EEG/NFB (32-192 channels, yes you read this correctly) dismiss the clinicians who do 19 channel QEEG and 1-2 channel NFB. So i feel like I can’t trust anyone’s opinion in this arena and I am not sure what is legit and what is not anymore. Very sad.

But i will continue to do my own research and experiments and I think the more interest in this area there is the clearer things will become.

I will report back soon as my training with this continues.


hello, ive been skimming over your posts, you’ve already gotten some of the lecture about NFB is not a toy and you can scramble yourself playing with it, so I won’t go into that

That said, your last post is about various clinicians ego regarding one technique or anouther. I am a product of NFB and have treatment for a good 6 years and am planning on working in the field. The therapist I see has been practicing for at least 7-8 years, and has used all sorts of different protocol and equipment (some of which i was his first paient for), even those not directly related to NFB. As far as I know he still uses the best tools for the job with far greater concern for what’s best for the person then advancing a piticular protocol. He’s really busy, and I’m not sure how he would take to someone without training using NFB but here’s a link to his website. You can try to e-mail him.

New kid on the block:

Here’s a recent paper on the Versus dry sensor electronics. And at the end of the post, two blog reviews by a Versus customer. Would be curious to hear @Jay’s experience, since he’s had it about a month.


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