3.01 | 10.01.18

Can thought-power control the world outside our heads? Thanks to new brain-machine interface technology, the answer is yes. But the real question is whether it can it help us control the world inside our heads.

In the Season 3 opener of Soonish we meet Ariel Garten, co-founder of Interaxon, a Canadian startup that’s one of the first to offer a consumer-ready neurofeedback device. Interaxon’s Muse headband reads brainwaves to help people with the sometimes vexing task of meditation. It points toward an era when may be able to control our brain states and share our thoughts directly with our computers, and with each other. And that has startling implications—not just for our capabilities as humans, but also for our privacy and individuality.

Featured guests: Ariel Garten, Sam Langer, Mary Lou Jepsen.

Mentioned In This Episode


Muse Brain Sensing Headband

Ariel Garten

CTV report on Interaxon’s installation at the 2010 Winter Olympics (YouTube)

Sam Langer

Balconi, Michela, et al., “Conscious, Pre-Conscious and Unconscious Mechanisms in Emotional Behaviour. Some Applications to the Mindfulness Approach with Wearable Devices,” Applied Sciences 2017, 7(12), 1280


Mary Lou Jepsen

Xconomy Voices Podcast, Episode 1: Mary Lou Jepsen (June 22, 2017)


Center for Responsible Brainwave Technologies

Additional Reading

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future (Wait But Why)

Chapter Guide

0:00 Opening

0:33 Meditating by the Lake

3:06 Introducing Muse and Interaxon’s Ariel Garten

3:56 Electroencephalography

4:24 Interaxon Goes to the Winter Olympics

8:22 Measuring Brainwaves with EEG

11:36 An Introduction to Meditation, with Sam Langer

14:51 Using Muse to Strengthen the Muscle of Attention

17:02 The Consciousness Club Tries Muse

18:12 A Controlled Study of Muse

18:59 Thinking Through Brain-Machine Interfaces

22:18 The Coming Wave of Neural Interfaces, with Mary Lou Jepsen

25:09 The Center for Responsible Brainwave Technologies

26:28 Extending Our Agency

27:37 End Credits and Announcements


The Soonish theme is by Graham Gordon Ramsay. Additional music from Titlecard Music and Sound.

If you haven’t already, please rate and review Soonish on Apple Podcasts / iTunes! The more ratings we get, the more people will find the show. See applepodcasts.com/soonish

You can also support the show with a per-episode donation at patreon.com/soonish. Listener support makes all the difference!

Special thanks this week to Joseph Fridman, Ariel Garten, Mary Lou Jepsen, Sam Langer, and Mark Pelofsky.