Brain.fm's attention-boosting app gets $225K National Science grant

App developer Brain.fm will research the effect of AI-generated music on people who have ADHD, or just need a little help concentrating.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read
Brain.fm app

App developer Brain.fm has received a $225K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research the effect of music on people who suffer from inattention at work, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Brain.fm is a mobile app that uses AI to generate music according to four different moods: "focus", "meditate", "sleep" and "nap". The company says the music "stimulates attentional networks in our brain" and is designed to work within 10 to 15 minutes of listening. A Brain.fm subscription costs $6.95 a month, $48 a year or $150 for "forever."

Brain.fm says the NSF grant will help fund an investigation of "noninvasive brain stimulation through music" as well as assist in the "optimization of (its) product".  The company hopes to offer a viable alternative to medication, and for "over 4M American adults who do not meet all the criteria to be diagnosed with ADHD".

Does it work?

I myself am a fairly hyperactive sort (albeit undiagnosed), and sometimes need a little prodding to knuckle down and accomplish tasks. This Brain.fm thing should be my jam! I put on a number of different "focus" soundtracks, and I can't say it helped me much. The different songs caused me to experience moods somewhere between irritation (Bells) and outright boredom (Electronic Sounds).

Of course, everyone's brain is wired slightly differently and you're supposed to spend more time with the many different options to find out which music works for you. But seriously, who has the time for that? That's what your music collection is for, right? I'll admit that in order to *concentrate* and actually write this piece, I simply went with what works for me: a hot cup of tea and some Pennywise.

You can download the app for iOS and Android, with a free trial included so you can try it for yourself.