External triggers are well-known for causing anxiety such as work, societal pressures, current events, and others, but internal, physical triggers, such as an elevated heart rate or hunger, can also inflict the same type of mental anxiety. These triggers take effect through interoception, or the brain’s way of monitoring the body’s internal state. Previous studies have shown that when interoception isn’t fully functional, the person may experience chronic stress.
Other studies have found that a simple therapy to promote relaxation is physical touch and certain sensations. Light, physical touch, also known as ‘affective touch’ can induce feelings of calm and connection by triggering the brain’s interoceptive pathway. Based on this, scientists at Feelmore Labs set out to develop a device that could utilize this research and reduce stress levels.
Feelmore Labs, a health and wellness technology company, has successfully created a wearable device that can improve sleep and reduce stress by tapping into the brain’s interoception. After just 20 minutes of use, the Cove device can activate the particular brain pathway that controls sleep and stress through patented vibrations on the skin.
Using electroencephalography, scientists have studied the effects of this treatment through clinical studies and neuro imaging experiments. EEG demonstrates an increase in alpha waves during treatment which are also observed during meditation. Researchers also observed a change in brain activity above the insula, which confirms that Cove is activating the interoceptive pathway.
The insula, or insular cortex, is reactive to affective touch and is an important structure in the interoceptive pathway. The insula is responsible for processing information about the body and exchanges signals between the skin and areas of the brain that process emotion when an individual experiences affective touch.
“The insula connects your sense of touch to your sense of wellbeing.”
While the Cove device is proven to be effective in inducing relaxation during just one 20-minute session, research shows that consistent and regemined use of the device can lead to more drastic changes in resilience to stress triggers thanks to stronger connection between key regions of the brain. Regular use of the device actually strengthens the interoceptive pathway.
Research was conducted through studies at Brown University and by leading clinical researchers from Harvard Medical School. 3500 participants took part in multiple clinical studies that monitored their stress, anxiety and sleep quality. 90% of the participants reported less stress and better sleep and 53% were still experiencing positive effects from the Cove device for 6 months after the study.
The device is currently available for purchase at feelcove.com for $490.