Credit card-sized device could analyze biopsy, help diagnose pancreatic cancer in minutes.


Pancreatic cancer is a particularly devastating disease. At least 94 percent of patients will die within five years, and in 2013 it was ranked as one of the top 10 deadliest cancers.

Routine screenings for breast, colon and lung cancers have improved treatment and outcomes for patients with these diseases, largely because the cancer can be detected early. But because little is known about how pancreatic cancer behaves, patients often receive a diagnosis when it’s already too late.

University of Washington scientists and engineers are developing a low-cost device that could help pathologists diagnose earlier and faster. The prototype can perform the basic steps for processing a biopsy, relying on fluid transport instead of human hands to process the . The team presented its initial results this month (February 2014) at the SPIE Photonics West conference and recently filed a patent for this first-generation device and future technology advancements.

“This new process is expected to help the pathologist make a more rapid diagnosis and be able to determine more accurately how invasive the cancer has become, leading to improved prognosis,” said Eric Seibel, a UW research professor of mechanical engineering and director of the department’s Human Photonics Laboratory.

The mold for making a microfluidic device. Teflon tubes are inserted into a petri dish, then silicon is poured in. After the material hardens, engineers remove the disposable container and are left with an intact device. Credit: University of Washington

The new instrumentation would essentially automate and streamline the manual, time-consuming process a pathology lab goes through to diagnose cancer. Currently, a pathologist takes a biopsy tissue sample, then sends it to the lab where it’s cut into thin slices, stained and put on slides, then analyzed optically in 2-D for abnormalities.

The UW’s technology would process and analyze whole tissue biopsies for 3-D imaging, which offers a more complete picture of the cellular makeup of a tumor, said Ronnie Das, a UW postdoctoral researcher in bioengineering who is the lead author on a related paper.

“As soon as you cut a piece of tissue, you lose information about it. If you can keep the original tissue biopsy intact, you can see the whole story of abnormal cell growth. You can also see connections, cell morphology and structure as it looks in the body,” Das said.

The research team is building a thick, credit card-sized, flexible device out of silicon that allows a piece of tissue to pass through tiny channels and undergo a series of steps that replicate what happens on a much larger scale in a pathology lab. The device harnesses the properties of microfluidics, which allows tissue to move and stop with ease through small channels without needing to apply a lot of external force. It also keeps clinicians from having to handle the tissue; instead, a tissue biopsy taken with a syringe needle could be deposited directly into the device to begin processing.

Researchers say this is the first time material larger than a single-celled organism has successfully moved in a microfluidic device. This could have implications across the sciences in automating analyses that usually are done by humans.

Das and Chris Burfeind, a UW undergraduate student in , designed the device to be simple to manufacture and use. They first built a mold using a petri dish and Teflon tubes, then poured a viscous, silicon material into the mold. The result is a small, transparent instrument with seamless channels that are both curved and straight. Undergraduate mechanical engineering student Chris Burfeind holds the prototype in the UW mechanical engineering lab. Burfeind built this device using flexible Teflon tubes and a petri dish. Credit: University of Washington.

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The researchers have used the instrument to process a one step at a time, following the same steps as a pathology lab would. Next, they hope to combine all of the steps into a more robust device – including 3-D imaging – then build and optimize it for use in a lab. Future iterations of the device could include layers of channels that would allow more analyses on a piece of tissue without adding more bulk to the .

The UW researchers say the technology could be used overseas as an over-the-counter kit that would process biopsies, then send that information to pathologists who could look for signs of cancer from remote locations. Additionally, it could potentially reduce the time it takes to diagnose cancer to a matter of minutes, Das said.

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Researchers ID a brain mechanism that weighs decisions.


We tend to be creatures of habit. In fact, the human brain has a learning system that is devoted to guiding us through routine, or habitual, behaviors. At the same time, the brain has a separate goal-directed system for the actions we undertake only after careful consideration of the consequences. We switch between the two systems as needed. But how does the brain know which system to give control to at any given moment? Enter The Arbitrator.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have, for the first time, pinpointed areas of the —the inferior lateral prefrontal cortex and frontopolar cortex—that seem to serve as this “arbitrator” between the two decision-making systems, weighing the reliability of the predictions each makes and then allocating control accordingly. The results appear in the current issue of the journal Neuron.

According to John O’Doherty, the study’s principal investigator and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, understanding where the arbitrator is located and how it works could eventually lead to better treatments for brain disorders, such as drug addiction, and psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. These disorders, which involve repetitive behaviors, may be driven in part by malfunctions in the degree to which behavior is controlled by the habitual system versus the goal-directed system.

“Now that we have worked out where the arbitrator is located, if we can find a way of altering activity in this area, we might be able to push an individual back toward goal-directed control and away from habitual control,” says O’Doherty, who is also a professor of psychology at Caltech. “We’re a long way from developing an actual treatment based on this for disorders that involve over-egging of the habit system, but this finding has opened up a highly promising avenue for further research.”
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In the study, participants played a decision-making game on a computer while connected to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner that monitored their . Participants were instructed to try to make optimal choices in order to gather coins of a certain color, which were redeemable for money.

During a pre-training period, the subjects familiarized themselves with the game—moving through a series of on-screen rooms, each of which held different numbers of red, yellow, or blue coins. During the actual game, the participants were told which coins would be redeemable each round and given a choice to navigate right or left at two stages, knowing that they would collect only the coins in their final room. Sometimes all of the coins were redeemable, making the task more habitual than goal-directed. By altering the probability of getting from one room to another, the researchers were able to further test the extent of participants’ habitual and goal-directed behavior while monitoring corresponding changes in their brain activity.

With the results from those tests in hand, the researchers were able to compare the fMRI data and choices made by the subjects against several computational models they constructed to account for behavior. The model that most accurately matched the experimental data involved the two brain systems making separate predictions about which action to take in a given situation. Receiving signals from those systems, the arbitrator kept track of the reliability of the predictions by measuring the difference between the predicted and actual outcomes for each system. It then used those reliability estimates to determine how much control each system should exert over the individual’s behavior. In this model, the arbitrator ensures that the system making the most reliable predictions at any moment exerts the greatest degree of control over behavior.

“What we’re showing is the existence of higher-level control in the ,” says Sang Wan Lee, lead author of the new study and a postdoctoral scholar in neuroscience at Caltech. “The arbitrator is basically making decisions about decisions.”

In line with previous findings from the O’Doherty lab and elsewhere, the researchers saw in the brain scans that an area known as the posterior putamen was active at times when the model predicted that the habitual system should be calculating prediction values. Going a step further, they examined the connectivity between the posterior putamen and the arbitrator. What they found might explain how the arbitrator sets the weight for the two learning systems: the connection between the arbitrator area and the posterior putamen changed according to whether the goal-directed or habitual system was deemed to be more reliable. However, no such connection effects were found between the arbitrator and brain regions involved in goal-directed learning. This suggests that the arbitrator may work mainly by modulating the activity of the habitual system.

“One intriguing possibility arising from these findings, which we will need to test in future work, is that being in a habitual mode of behavior may be the default state,” says O’Doherty. “So when the arbitrator determines you need to be more goal-directed in your behavior, it accomplishes this by inhibiting the activity of the habitual system, almost like pressing the breaks on your car when you are in drive.”

A Mind-Controlled Robotic Hand With A Sense Of Touch.


photo of Denis Aabo Sorensen shaking hands with a researcher

Denis Aabo Sørensen lost his left hand nine years ago, while handling fireworks. Since then, he has used prosthetic hands, but never one like this. Last year, a team of European engineers created for him a prosthetic hand that connects directly to the remaining nerves in his upper arm. That means the hand is able to send sensations of touch back through his arm and into his brain. Plus, when Sørensen wanted to grab something, he could move the hand by simply thinking about it.

“The sensory feedback was incredible,” Sørensen said in a statement. “When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square.”

“I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years,” he said.

His feeling-hand prosthetic was an experimental prototype, so researchers had to remove the implant after a month of wear, following European law about experimental medical devices. While Sørensen had it on, however, he demonstrated for researchers that he was able to do things like distinguish between a bottle, a baseball and a mandarin orange, and press things with light, medium or firm pressure. He wore a blindfold and headphones while completing each of these tasks, to prove he could do them only by touch.

photo of Sorensen wearing prosthetic with six researchers behind him

He could even adjust his grip as needed, all from his robotic sense of touch. “What we did was to provide this tactile information,” Silvestro Micera, the hand’s lead engineer, says. “It is the first time this is exploited in real time for modulating the force during the grasp.” Micera is a robotics researcher with the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

The implant is one more step in a worldwide effort by researchers to create prosthetics that have a natural sense of touch. Touch is essential for so many everyday tasks. Without it, prosthetics wearers must watch what they’re picking up to help them judge whether they’ve got a good—but not too tight—grip on that banana or coffee cup. While that’s workable, it’s a far cry from the unconscious ease with which someone with natural hands is able to grip everything from a hammer to an egg.

photo of the robotic hand

Closeup of the Hand

Other researchers have made experimental, feeling prosthetics similar to Sørensen’s and tested them in humans. One notable experiment was actually carried out 10 years ago. Sørensen’s hand is another step forward, outside researchers I talked with say. One thing everyone was impressed by: The detail with which Micera and his team recorded what Sørensen could do with touch. The study volunteer, who is 36 years old and lives in Denmark, performed 700 individual tasks for the hand’s creators.

“They really showed the value of having this feedback to the user and, in some ways, justified, in an actual use setting, an implanted interface with the nerve,” says Dustin Tyler, a biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University who has made and studied feeling prosthetics in people.

“In my view, that volunteer is really doing science a great favor,” says Daofen Chen, the program director in systems and cognitive neuroscience at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who was not involved in the recent study.

Of course, touch-enabled prosthetics have a long way to go before they’re available for most people to use. Sørensen’s experimental hand illustrates what’s left to do, and what many researchers, including Micera and Tyler, are working on now.

The hand required surgeons to implant electrodes directly onto Sørensen’s nerves. There need to be more studies of how long electrodes like that last in the body. (No one wants to have to undergo extra surgeries because, oh no, my electrodes wore out again.) There’s also the problem of all the computing hardware. Sørensen’s prosthetic did serious math to translate what its sensors felt into an electrical signal that was meaningful to Sørensen’s nerves and brain. So the hand connected to a laptop, to run the calculations, before connecting back to his nerves. Researchers are working on miniaturizing the computer so it can fit right in the implant.

Modified syringe uses miniature sponges to seal a gunshot wound in 15 seconds .


The XStat device is currently being vetted by the FDA, but its supporters hope it will replace gauze in treating life-threatening wounds on the battlefield

Dealing with gunshots wounds on the battlefield is a brutal process. The only way to stop the bleeding is to stuff the wound with gauze, sometimes as deep as five inches into the body – and even then the treatment can fail, meaning the gauze has to be removed and new material put in.

Using this almost medieval process it’s no surprise that haemorrhaging is still the leading cause of death for soldiers in the field.

Now a company named RevMedx has designed a device that they claim can stop a wound bleeding in just 15 seconds. This is the XStat, a modified syringe that injects tablet-sized sponges directly into the wound and that was inspired by the design of emergency tire repair kits.

“That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops,” John Steinbaugh, a US Army Special Operations medic who joined RevMedx told Popular Science. “But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out.”

So instead of foam Steinbaugh and his team experimented with sponges cut into 1-centimetre pills. Like the foam these sponges expand to fill the wound cavity, but they also adhere to moist surfaces, creating enough pressure to ensure that the bleeding stops.

How the XStar works to seal a wound.

RevMedx experimented with animal injuries and after early successes (and $5 million in funding from the US Army) they finessed the material, using sponges made from wood pulp and coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance called chitosan. Each sponge is also marked with a special X that show up on X-rays, ensuring that none of the pills are left within the body.

Using the XStat is also incredibly simple. Medics or other soldiers would simply insert the end of the syringe into the wound and push down the plunger to inject the sponges. The device is currently awaiting FDA approval in the US, but RevMedx are already pushing ahead, developing three different sizes of the XStat to treat a variety of wounds. Each syringe is made from lightweight polycarbonate and is expected to cost around $100.

“I spent the whole war on terror in the Middle East, so I know what a medic needs when someone has been shot,” Steinbaugh told Popular Science. “I’ve treated lots of guys who would have benefitted from this product. That’s what drives me.”

The high-caffeine energy drink craze that’s putting young lives in danger.


As a 19-year-old dies after downing a high-caffeine drink, the worrying truth about the energy drink craze that’s putting young lives in danger

  • Joshua Merrick’s death was linked to high-caffeine energy drink
  • Gina Weaver, 15, became ill after consuming too much Monster
  • She wasn’t aware of how much caffeine was in them
  • Excessive caffeine consumption in energy drinks had been associated with effects such as ‘seizures, mania, stroke and sudden death’
  • They are marketed to be cool and attractive to young people
  • They like the taste but aren’t aware of the content

Teenager Joshua Merrick had his whole life ahead of him. The 19-year-old had just finished college and was set to join the Royal Navy. A talented rugby player, he was hugely popular, with one friend describing him as ‘the most loyal person I knew’.

But in January last year, Joshua was found by his father, having died quite suddenly in his sleep. An inquest this week heard the teenager had been drinking a high-caffeine energy drink called Animal Rage to boost his work-outs.

While the verdict was that Joshua died of natural causes, the doctor who conducted toxicology tests on his body said she could not rule out the possibility the drinks contributed to his death.

Source of her symptoms: Gina Weaver, 15, with her mother Jenni, 40, became ill after drinking too much Monster

Source of her symptoms: Gina Weaver, 15, with her mother Jenni, 40, became ill after drinking too much Monster

Josh’s death is the latest in a number of incidents that have been linked to energy drinks, fuelling concerns over these largely unregulated products. Particularly worrying is their popularity among children and teenagers.

With some cans containing 13 teaspoons of sugar and the equivalent in caffeine of two cups of coffee, there is growing alarm over what these drinks are doing to the young body and brain.

Campaigners say legislation is urgently needed to put age limits on the drinks.

This week Josh’s father, Andrew, told how he had been concerned about his son’s love of energy drinks.

‘These products arrive on the market and are available to everyone without any checks being done.’

Often parents have no idea that their children are drinking energy drinks, nor how much caffeine is in them.

Mother of four Jenni Weaver was baffled by her 15-year-old daughter Gina’s mysterious symptoms last year.

Contributory factor? Energy drinks were linked to the death of Joshua Merrick

Contributory factor? Energy drinks were linked to the death of Joshua Merrick

‘She started having really bad stomach cramps,’ says Jenni, 40, from Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

‘She’d have a spate of them for about three or four days and then they would die down. She was suffering headaches, too. I was so worried, but I couldn’t work it out and neither could our family doctor.’

In March, the pain got so bad that Gina, 15, had to be hospitalised and given morphine.

‘The doctor couldn’t establish what was causing it, so he asked Gina about her diet,’ says Jenni.
‘She had a normal diet, but then she mentioned that she drank the energy drink Monster. She admitted she drank about three or four cans a day, which she was buying on her way to school. I had no idea – I’d thought there was an age-limit on them.

‘Some secondary school children come in having not had breakfast and started the day with one of these energy drinks’

‘The doctor told her that she had to stop there and then because the sugar, caffeine and acid in these drinks was what was causing her pain.’

Gina was consuming up to two litres of Monster a day, which is around 640mg of caffeine – the recommended daily limit for adults is 400mg.

‘I don’t think she had any sense of what was in these things,’ says Jenni. ‘She just liked the taste and said all her friends were drinking them, too’

Gina followed the doctor’s advice and the stomach pains and headaches have ceased. She believes energy drinks should carry an age limit and a proper health warning.

Cleverly marketed: Children think it's cool to have drinks like Red Bull

Cleverly marketed: Children think it’s cool to have drinks like Red Bull

High in sugar, cleverly marketed and sold in supermarkets and shops alongside regular soft drinks, it’s easy to see why children have taken to energy drinks.

Last year, a major study found our children have one of the highest consumption rates in Europe. One in ten British teenagers consumes four to five energy drinks a week.

Worryingly, younger children are following suit: one in four under-tens – 24 per cent – has had at least one energy drink in the past year, compared with the European average of 18 per cent. Now, experts are calling for them to be banned from sale to youngsters.

In a paper last year, Dr Jack James, editor of the Journal of Caffeine Research, says caffeine should be regulated just like cigarettes and alcohol.

‘Although caffeine has been widely considered to be benign, awareness is increasing that its consumption is associated with substantial harm, including fatalities and near-fatalities,’ he wrote.

‘How many caffeine-related fatalities and near-misses must there be before we regulate?’

Last month, a government adviser compared energy drinks with drugs, and urged schools to ban them.

Some schools have done so, with many teachers complaining the drinks affect behaviour and concentration.

‘Some secondary school children come in having not had breakfast and started the day with one of these energy drinks,’ says Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

‘They are very hyperactive, they can’t sit still and can’t concentrate. At the end of the day, they are very fractious, very tired and unable to concentrate.’

However, the full extent of caffeine’s effects on children is unclear.

‘We know that in adults caffeine raises the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature and has psychological effects such as anxiety and sleep disturbances,’ says Sioned Quirke, dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

‘We know that three out of five teenagers are drinking them with sport even though this is not recommended and not necessary’

‘But there have been very few studies on caffeine’s effect on children, so God knows what it’s doing to them.

‘The problem is that children want to be grown up. They are so easily taken in by seeing older kids and adults doing something and so they copy.’

A 2011 study in America reported on a number of cases where excessive caffeine consumption in energy drinks had been associated with effects such as ‘seizures, mania, stroke and sudden death’.

The researchers warned that high caffeine drinks were particularly risky for children with existing conditions such as heart arrhythmias, diabetes or mood and behavioural disorders, which may be undiagnosed.

A post-mortem examination on Josh Merrick showed the young man had an unusually large heart, and it was suggested that this may have made him more susceptible to caffeine’s effects.

There are also concerns about combining energy drinks with sport. In October last year, France’s public health agency ANSES warned: ‘Because of their composition, these beverages have a stimulating effect which, when associated with certain other behaviours (alcohol consumption, sport, etc.), can give rise to serious cardiac accidents in consumers with common genetic predispositions which frequently go undiagnosed.

‘ANSES therefore recommends avoiding the consumption of  so-called energy drinks in association with alcohol or during physical exercise.’

Caffeine triggered her death: Chloe Leach died after four cans of Red Bull and an alcoholic cocktail

Caffeine triggered her death: Chloe Leach died after four cans of Red Bull and an alcoholic cocktail

Andrew Brown of Mentor, a drug and alcohol prevention charity for children and young people, says: ‘Energy drinks can have different effects in different circumstances and on different people.

‘We know that three out of five teenagers are drinking them with sport even though this is not recommended and not necessary.’

A study last year showed that energy drinks can change heart rhythms. A team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany scanned the hearts of 17 people an hour after they’d consumed an energy drink. They found the left ventricle of the heart, which pumps blood around the body, was contracting harder after the drink.

France’s public health agency has said young people who drink energy drinks are at risk of sleep disorders, daytime drowsiness and developing addictions to other substances.

‘A third of young people who consume energy drinks say they’ve mixed them with alcohol, and that worries us,’ Andrew Brown says.

‘The caffeine makes the person feel less drunk, so they are less likely to stop, and end up drinking even more.’

Josh Merrick’s death is the latest of an alarming number of deaths and health complaints involving young people that have been linked to energy drinks.

In 2008, 21-year-old student Chloe Leach, from Cottingham, East Yorkshire, collapsed and died after drinking four cans of Red Bull and a cocktail containing vodka and caffeine at a student party.

A post-mortem examination found that Chloe probably had an undiagnosed heart condition, and the caffeine she consumed may have triggered faulty electrical activity in her heart.

The same year, 14-year-old Naomi Haynes from the Isle of Wight was hospitalised after her energy drink habit reached 50 cans a week. Doctors warned her that her consumption of the drinks was putting her at risk of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, in the U.S, the Food and Drug Administration is said to be investigating a number of deaths and hospitalisations linked to energy drinks.

Two mothers are suing the manufacturer of Monster over the deaths of their children from heart attacks. The drinks have also been linked to emotional problems and suicide.

In 2009, Bolton father Lee Johns, whose son, Tyler, hanged himself at the age of 11, said his son’s behaviour changed after he started consuming energy drinks.

Drug dangerCaffeine can linger in the blood for up to 14 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Aside from the worries over caffeine content, many energy drinks are extremely high in sugar: one 250ml can of Red Bull contains five-and-a-half cubes, for example.

Given the growing body of evidence that implicates sugar in a host of health problems, this is fuelling calls for the drinks to be more strongly regulated.

With many children drinking several energy drinks a day, there are also concerns over addiction.

In fact, caffeine is not addictive, but it does create dependency, says Peter Rogers, professor of biological psychology at Bristol University and a leading expert on caffeine.

‘Caffeine creates a state of dependency where if one stops taking it one feels tired, fatigued, headachey and studies show this happens in children as well,’ he says.

Louise Van de Velde believes her son, Jordan, developed an unhealthy relationship with Red Bull at the age of 14.

Drinks like Monster as also high in sugar

Drinks like Monster as also high in sugar

‘I didn’t realise at first that he was drinking it. Then, when I did find out, he’d sneak cans into his room or have them at school.’

But Louise noticed the drinks were causing her son to suffer from highs and lows.

‘He was really moody and never slept well – he’d be up till 4am playing computer games,’ says Louise, 38, a relationship therapist and yoga teacher, from Surrey.

‘I kept telling him that he felt tired because of those drinks, and I banned them, but it didn’t make any difference.

‘In the end, he got so stressed out and irritable that he realised he had to stop them. He did it gradually and did complain of tiredness for a while, but now he’s fine and back to normal.’

The British Soft Drinks Association says high-caffeine energy drinks are not recommended in the UK for consumption by children, and its code of practice states that products containing more than 150mg caffeine per litre must carry the warning: ‘Not suitable for children, pregnant women and persons sensitive to caffeine.’

But experts feel this does not go far enough. ‘The marketing of these drinks is very attractive to young people,’ says Andrew Brown. ‘Brands associate themselves with cool stuff like extreme sports.

‘These are available next to soft drinks and many children don’t really understand what the active ingredient is.’

How Meditation Changes Your Brain Frequency.


As yogis have known for centuries and scientists can now prove, the benefits of meditation are profound. Meditation is perhaps the most crucial instrument to harness the power of thought, cultivate more peace, clarity and happiness.

Learning to train the brain and focus our attention is crucial to thriving and cultivating a peak performance in any endeavor.

Longtime psychotherapist Dr. Ron Alexander, author of Wise Mind, Open Mind, speaks of mind strength, or the resiliency, efficacy and emotional intelligence that arise as we begin the process of controlling the mind. Mind strength is one of the most empowering tools we can employ to impact and improve all aspects of life.

There are five major categories of brain waves, each corresponding to different activities. Meditation enables us to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequency, which activates different centers in the brain.

Slower wavelengths = more time between thoughts = more opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you invest in and what actions you take.

5 Categories of Brain Waves: Why Meditation Works

1. Gamma State: (30 — 100Hz) This is the state of hyperactivity and active learning. Gamma state is the most opportune time to retain information. This is why educators often have audiences jumping up and down or dancing around — to increase the likelihood of permanent assimilation of information. If over stimulated, it can lead to anxiety.

2. Beta State: (13 — 30Hz) Where we function for most of the day, Beta State is associated with the alert mind state of the prefrontal cortex. This is a state of the “working” or “thinking mind”: analytical, planning, assessing and categorizing.

3. Alpha State: (9 — 13Hz) Brain waves start to slow down out of thinking mind. We feel more calm, peaceful and grounded. We often find ourselves in an “alpha state” after a yoga class, a walk in the woods, a pleasurable sexual encounter or during any activity that helps relax the body and mind. We are lucid, reflective, have a slightly diffused awareness. The hemispheres of the brain are more balanced (neural integration).

4. Theta State: (4 — 8Hz) We’re able to begin meditation. This is the point where the verbal/thinking mind transitions to the meditative/visual mind. We begin to move from the planning mind to a deeper state of awareness (often felt as drowsy), with stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. The Theta state is associated with visualization.

5. Delta State: (1—3 Hz) Tibetan monks who have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase, but most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.

How to Meditate:

A simple meditation to use to begin the transition from Beta or Alpha to the Theta State is to focus on the breath. The breath and mind work in tandem, so as breath begins to lengthen, brain waves begin to slow down.

To begin the meditation, sit comfortably in your chair with your shoulders relaxed and spine tall. Place your hands mindfully on your lap, close your eyes, and as much as possible eliminate any stimuli that may distract you.

Watch your breath. Simply notice your breath flowing in. Flowing out. Don’t try to change it in any way. Just notice.

Silently repeat the mantra: “Breathing In. Breathing Out.” As your mind begins to wander, draw it back to your breath. Notice that as your breath begins to lengthen and fill your body, your mind begins to calm.

Consistency is key. Try to do this breath meditation first thing in the morning and/or at night. Be consistent with your meditation. Shorter meditations on a regular basis are more productive than long sessions every few weeks. Aim for 5 minutes a day and add 1 minute each week.