New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s "Matrix" franchise.
Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.
Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.
"Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning," said lead author and BU neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe of the part of the brain analyzed in the study.
Neuroscientists have found that pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example.
Researchers studied the early visual areas for their ability to cause improvements in visual performance and learning.
"Some previous research confirmed a correlation between improving visual performance and changes in early visual areas, while other researchers found correlations in higher visual and decision areas," said Watanabe, director of BU’s Visual Science Laboratory. "However, none of these studies directly addressed the question of whether early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning." Until now.
Boston University post-doctoral fellow Kazuhisa Shibata designed and implemented a method using decoded fMRI neurofeedback to induce a particular activation pattern in targeted early visual areas that corresponded to a pattern evoked by a specific visual feature in a brain region of interest. The researchers then tested whether repetitions of the activation pattern caused visual performance improvement on that visual feature.
The result, say researchers, is a novel learning approach sufficient to cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that require visual performance.
What’s more, the approached worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning.
"The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns corresponding to a specific visual feature led to visual performance improvement on the visual feature, without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned," said Watanabe, who developed the idea for the research project along with Mitsuo Kawato, director of ATR lab and Yuka Sasaki, an assistant in neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects’ visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training," he said.
The finding brings up an inevitable question. Is hypnosis or a type of automated learning a potential outcome of the research?
"In theory, hypnosis or a type of automated learning is a potential outcome," said Kawato. "However, in this study we confirmed the validity of our method only in visual perceptual learning. So we have to test if the method works in other types of learning in the future. At the same time, we have to be careful so that this method is not used in an unethical way."
At present, the decoded neurofeedback method might be used for various types of learning, including memory, motor and rehabilitation.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan supported the research.
ABC Is Hiding Details of Killer Vester Flanagan's Manifesto ...(Must Be Littered With Liberal Propaganda) 2015-08-29 3:45
Killer Vester Flanagan was a big Obama supporter.
But, you’d never know it from the liberal media.
The media is hiding Flanagan’s political leanings from the American public.
ABC has yet to release Flanagan’s manifesto.
It must be littered with embarrassing liberal propaganda.
The Tatler reported, via Instapundit:
Two days ago, ABC News reported that Vester Flanagan, the murderer of two WDBJ employees, sent a 23-page ...
Austria, Libya count dead as number of migrants crossing Mediterranean soars 2015-08-29 1:37
Austria said on Friday 71 refugees including a baby girl were found dead in an abandoned freezer truck, while Libya recovered the bodies of 82 migrants washed ashore after their overcrowded boat sank on its way to Europe and scores more were feared dead.
The U.N. refugee agency said the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe ...
Financial Times Calls For Abolishing Cash 2015-08-29 1:07
liminating physical currency necessary to give central banks more power
The Financial Times has published an anonymous article which calls for the abolition of cash in order to give central banks and governments more power.
Entitled The case for retiring another ‘barbarous relic’, the article laments the fact that people are stockpiling cash in anticipation of another economic collapse, a factor which ...
Serbian government bans anti-mass immigration protests, and plans ahead for mass immigration 2015-08-29 1:52
Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia’s Interior Minister said protesters who are concerned about “an EU plan” to settle thousands of illegal immigrants into the country, will not be allowed to voice their concerns in a protest march on Monday, 31st of August.
“We will not allow the expression of intolerance and hatred to be something that is characteristic of Serbia” said Stefanovic.
“The Ministry ...
Germany asks Facebook to remove 'racist' anti-migrant posts 2015-08-28 20:32 Heiko Maas, Germany's justice minister, says social network should remove xenophobic posts in the same way it deals with nudity
Germany is calling on Facebook to remove “xenophobic and racist” anti-migrant posts from its website and apps.
Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, has written to the company to demand an urgent review of its policy over hate messages.
“Photos of certain ...