26 May 2011

Human Brain Networks Can be Tattle Tales

Thanks to advanced brain imaging tools, scientists are getting better at judging general tasks the brain is doing at any given time. Stanford researchers Michael Greicius and colleagues used fMRI to detect particular brain networks being used by subjects performing one of four different tasks: silent singing, recalling the days events, counting backward by threes, or simple relaxation.
Greicius and his colleagues have previously shown that the brain operates, at least to some extent, as a composite of separate networks composed a number of distinct but simultaneously active brain regions. They have identified approximately 15 such networks. Different networks are associated with vision, hearing, language, memory, decision-making, emotion and so forth. _PO
The findings suggest that patterns for thousands of mental states might serve as a reference bank against which people's thoughts could be compared, potentially revealing what someone is thinking or how they are feeling. "In some dystopian future, you might imagine reference patterns for 10,000 mental states, but that would be a woeful application of this technology," says Greicius.

..."The most important potential for this is in the clinic where classifying and diagnosing and treating psychiatric disease could be really important," says Brodersen. "At the moment, psychiatry is often just trial and error." _NewScientist

Greicius has been studying brain networks for many years. He began looking at the brain's default mode network. Then he looked at dissociable intrinsic connectivity networks for salience processing and executive control. Now the team has progressed to the point where roughly 15 distinct networks have been identified, including some involving the cerebellum.

Government snoops, interrogators, marketing agencies, and other inquiring minds would like to be able to read your thoughts, of course. But it will be a while yet before brain scanners can read a brain from a distance. Since every brain is different, interpretation of scans will depend upon the ability to calibrate equipment for each brain without influencing the scan.

Remember that the ability to read a brain's network activity is just a step away from the ability to influence that brain's activity. After a certain point, wearing a tinfoil hat may begin to make sense. ;-)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts