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The human brain is made up of billions of interconnected neurons about the size of a pinhead. As neurons interact, patterns manifest as singular thoughts such as a maths calculation, and broad emotional states such as attention. The average human thinks 70,000 thoughts each day. As a by-product, every interaction between neurons creates a miniscule electrical discharge, measurable by EEG (electroencephalogram) machines. By themselves, these charges are impossible to measure from outside the skull. However, a dominant mental state, driven by collective neuron activity created by hundreds of thousands concurrent discharges, can be measured.

Through a century of experimentation, neuroscience experts have determined where specific activity occurs within the brain. Motor control of limbs occurs in the top of the brain, for example. Vision is processed in the back of the brain. From an evolutionary point of view, these basic functions are present in most animals. As humans evolved into more intelligent creatures, the pre-frontal cortex in the front of the brain is where higher thinking occurs. Emotions, mental states, concentration, etc. are all dominant in this area. This is the primary reason for NeuroSky’s main sensor placement on a position known as FP1.

Different brain states are the result of different patterns of neural interaction. These patterns lead to waves characterized by different amplitudes and frequencies. As examples, brainwaves between 12 and 30 hertz, Beta Waves, are associated with concentration, while waves between 8 and 12 hertz, Alpha Waves, are associated with calm relaxation. Often overshadowing brainwaves, the contraction of muscles is also associated with unique wave patterns, called EMG. Isolating these EMG patterns is how some NeuroSky devices detect eye blinks.