Feelmore Labs conducted more than four years of extensive clinical research, helmed by experts in neuromodulation, mood disorders, and sleep science. This research was conducted nationally, including, in part, at Brown University led by a researcher from Harvard Medical School. However, at the present time, Cove has not been part of a published peer-review study. (Feelmore Labs did add that several studies on Cove have been peer-reviewed and presented at professional conferences. Several of these and other studies are currently under peer-review at journals and will be published soon.)
We asked two doctors, who are not affiliated with Feelmore Labs nor have used a Cove device, to weigh in on the science behind the Cove unit.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a neuropsychologist who oversees Comprehend the Mind, and is a faculty member at Columbia University. “There is science behind this and I’m intrigued by it,” Dr. Hafeez told us.
Dr. Hafeez likened Cove to transcranial magnetic stimulation devices, in that parts of your brain are able to be stimulated from the outside. “A good massage can leave you feeling fantastic and Cove sounds like it’s somewhat similar. [Cove] purports to stimulate the skin behind the ears and stimulate your posterior insular cortex, the part of the brain that controls emotions but also anxiety and stress and the relieving of those two things. Deep inside your brain, this area is not accessible by any other way. However, nerve endings in different parts of your body can help connect those dots. It’s like acupuncture; stimulate the nerves here and your brain can be affected there.”
Something that’s non-invasive and naturally stimulates the brain would help produce more alpha waves, says Dr. Hafeez. “Those are the relaxation waves. When we listen to music we like or get a massage, those alpha waves start. Even meditation can produce alpha waves,” she says. Couple that with the fact that you can indeed train the brain—“It can adapt and learn. It’s an amazing organ”—if Cove is able to induce alpha waves regularly, the brain could start to learn to produce more alpha waves on its own, leading to an increased state of relaxation. “I don’t know if [Feelmore] has been able to prove this is happening with the science; I haven’t seen the actual research to see this, and I’d like to see more peer and empirical research. But I’m heartened by this,” Dr. Hafeez concludes.
As a core proposition of Cove is that it improves sleep, we also spoke with Dr. Alice Hoagland, who is the director of the insomnia clinic at Rochester Regional Health and a board certified sleep specialist. “This is relatively new research that may, in fact, have some benefit in the long run,” Dr. Hoagland says. “I’m reminded of some interesting research with Parkinson’s patients with ambulatory mobility. If you get them to walk in the beat of music, if their brain can focus, it helps significantly with mobility. It’s different from stimulation, but it tells you you can train people to overcome basic neurological issues with frequency and sounds.”
“There is a modicum of science to indicate external cranial stimulation through stroking or vibrating can stimulate the brain into producing alpha waves,” she tells us. “Alpha waves are associated with relaxed wakefulness. If indeed Cove does routinely stimulate that, it would perhaps help with chronic anxiety. People who are anxious have fewer alpha waves and more beta waves.”
Dr. Hoagland is quick to add that, “Whether that ultimately translates into increased sleep or better quality sleep is a gigantic question. Plenty of patients who have insomnia aren’t anxious at all.” Dr. Hoagland echoed wanting to see further peer-reviewed studies, too. “If [Cove] makes you relaxed and awake and less agitated, it could be a bit of a leap to say it improves your sleep. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work to help you reduce anxiety and feel more relaxed and, because of those two things, you have better sleep. There’s just not enough data with a placebo arm.”