TagNeurotech

Not Science Fiction: A Brain In A Box To Let People Live On After Death

Fast Company on the latest in neurotech:

While their roundtable discussion admittedly sounded like a master’s exercise in strange science, the kicker is that all three are engaged in preliminary efforts to make this happen. Last year, at the resolutely mainstream MIT Media Lab, I saw Dr. Berger speak about hacking the memories of rats. Berger’s lab at USC is actively working on prosthetic brain implants that both falsify memories and stimulate brain function in damaged neurons. The lab’s work recently received media attention when it successfully generated new memories in a rat that had its hippocampus chemically disabled. In literature, Berger emphasizes his technology’s potential for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia through the possibility of “building spare parts for the brain;” on-stage in New York, he said it could also lead in the future to full-on brain transplants.

This would work in tandem with Kaplan’s and Lebedev’s specialties. The two Russian scientists research brain-computer interfaces (BCIs)–plug-in interfaces which meld the human brain and nervous system to computer operating systems. While BCIs are most commonly found in toys that read brainwaves to detect stress or concentration, they have revolutionary potential to change the lives of stroke victims and the disabled.

Full Story: Fast CoExist: Not Science Fiction: A Brain In A Box To Let People Live On After Death

6 Brain Sensors You’ll Be Using Soon

brain electrodes

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) – a technology that creates a direct connection from our brains to our computers – is beginning to reach the market via toys and game controllers. In the process, these thought-controlled sensors are inspiring innovations that, for instance, allow you to call someone on your phone by simply thinking about them.

From the first-ever thought-generated tweet, to the U.S. military funding the development of advanced prosthetic limbs, to implantable brain sensors, advancements in BCI are not only transforming the lives of people who are locked in because of total paralysis, but are ushering in an era where we will be able to build the Internet as fast as we can think.

Here’s a snapshot of the stages of development that these technologies are currently in.

ReadWriteWeb: 6 Brain Sensors You’ll Be Using Soon

Neuroscientist Discovers he Has the Brain of a Psychopath

abby normal

In what sounds like the setup for a bad “psychological thriller” movie, neuroscientist James Fallon discovered that his brain fits the profile of a psychopath’s: low activity in the orbital cortex.

“You see that? I’m 100 percent. I have the pattern, the risky pattern,” he says, then pauses. “In a sense, I’m a born killer.”

Fallon’s being tongue-in-cheek — sort of. He doesn’t believe his fate or anyone else’s is entirely determined by genes. They merely tip you in one direction or another.

And yet: “When I put the two together, it was frankly a little disturbing,” Fallon says with a laugh. “You start to look at yourself and you say, ‘I may be a sociopath.’ I don’t think I am, but this looks exactly like [the brains of] the psychopaths, the sociopaths, that I’ve seen before.”

I asked his wife, Diane, what she thought of the result.

“I wasn’t too concerned,” she says, laughing. “I mean, I’ve known him since I was 12.”

Diane probably does not need to worry, according to scientists who study this area. They believe that brain patterns and genetic makeup are not enough to make anyone a psychopath. You need a third ingredient: abuse or violence in one’s childhood.

NPR: A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret

(via Cat Vincent)

A sobering reminder of why “neuroscanning” for criminals/terrorists/whatever in airports or elsewehre is a problematic idea.

World premiere of brain orchestra

brain orchestra

Two of the performers were given a task to watch a screen in front of them, with flashing rows and columns of letters, and told to look for a particular letter.

When expectation is fulfilled, 300 thousandths of a second later, a signal known as the P300 appears in the EEG.

A similar strategy has been employed by Mick Grierson at Goldsmiths, University of London to generate individual notes.

In the Multimodal Brain Orchestra, the P300 signal is registered – with a dot demarcating it on the EEG trace projected to the audience, so that they can see the effect of the performer’s thought – in turn launching a sound or recorded instrument. […]

Adjacent to the EEG-capped players, the “emotional conductor” sits comfortably, wearing a pair of virtual reality glasses.

She is being shown images from a series created by artist Behdad Rezazadeh while her heart rate and skin conductance are being measured. Her heart rate is plotted along with the EEG traces.

As her mood changes, so does the visual experience – Rezazadeh’s images are blurred and changed in line with the changing biological measures of the conductor.

BBC: World premiere of brain orchestra

(Thanks Wade)

See also Ikipr’s EEG workshop at Esozone: the Other Tomorrow.

A drug that could give you perfect visual memory

RGS-14

Imagine if you could look at something once and remember it forever. You would never have to ask for directions again. Now a group of scientists has isolated a protein that mega-boosts your ability to remember what you see.

A group of Spanish researchers reported today in Science that they may have stumbled upon a substance that could become the ultimate memory-enhancer. The group was studying a poorly-understood region of the visual cortex. They found that if they boosted production of a protein called RGS-14 (pictured) in that area of the visual cortex in mice, it dramatically affected the animals’ ability to remember objects they had seen.

io9: A drug that could give you perfect visual memory

(via Edge of Tomorrow)

Intendix Brain-Computer Interface goes commercial

Intendix

The world’s first patient-ready and commercially available brain computer interface just arrived at CeBIT 2010. The Intendix from Guger Technologies (g*tec) is a system that uses an EEG cap to measure brain activity in order to let you type with your thoughts. Meant to work with those with locked-in syndrome, or other disabilities, Intendix is simple enough to use after just 10 minutes of training. You simply focus on a grid of letters as they flash. When your desired letter lights up, brain activity spikes and Intendix types it. As users master the system, a few will be able to type as quickly as 1 letter a second. Besides typing, it can also trigger alarms, convert text to speech, print, copy, or email. Retailing for €9000 (~$12,250), Intendix isn’t cheap, but it’s the first thought to type system available that’s geared towards easy to setup personal use in the home. Brain computer interfaces just got more accessible, and that’s a step towards them becoming more common all over the world.

Singularity Hub: Intendix, The Brain Computer Interface Goes Commercial

(via Edge of Tomorrow)

See also:

Chris Arkenberg’s 3 Scenarios for Brain Computer Interface.

Open source “god helmet” project

Cosmic Eye

Michael Persinger built a device that stimulates the brain with electromagnetic waves. He claims the machine, generally known as the “god helmet,” can induce religious experiences. His experiments have never been successfully replicated, but a group is trying to build an open source DIY god helmet:

The project is in a very early alpha stage. Some of the current goals for the project include:

-Create a workable and easy to build hardware design to allow experimentation similar to that done by Dr. Persinger.

-Develop firmware for any integrated controllers

-Develop software that facilitates controlled application of TMS or rTMS utilizing the hardware

-Software integration with openEEG and Sbagen for a rich experimental environment

Open-rTMS Project

Update: There still hasn’t been a release, but it looks it’s still under active development as of March 2013.

See also: The Next God Helmet? Zap Your Brain for Insight

(Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney’s / CC)

3-D Hand Movement Reconstructed Using Brain Signals: Future Portable Prosthetic Devices for Movement-Impaired

The reaching apparatus used for the study

Above: the apparatus used for this study.

Researchers have successfully reconstructed 3-D hand motions from brain signals recorded in a non-invasive way, according to a study in the March 3 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. This finding uses a technique that may open new doors for portable brain-computer interface systems. Such a non-invasive system could potentially operate a robotic arm or motorized wheelchair — a huge advance for people with disabilities or paralysis. […]

The reaching apparatus used to study the finger paths from a center button to eight other buttons in random order. While volunteers touched the buttons, researchers recorded their brain signals and hand motions. Afterward, the researchers attempted to decode the signals and reconstruct the 3-D hand movements.

Science Daily: 3-D Hand Movement Reconstructed Using Brain Signals: Future Portable Prosthetic Devices for Movement-Impaired

Boffins Create Thought-Controlled Computer

According to this Register article Boffins at the EC’s Joint Research Centre have created a thought controlled computer.

The computer works by picking up the electromagnetic signals created in the brain when people think of different things. Electrodes attached to a plastic cap which is put on the user’s head pick up the signals. Then by tying in thought patterns with different, simple instructions the computer can be controlled by thought alone.

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