What’s the Latest Development?
Just as digital remastering of vinyl records eliminates scratchy background noise, scientists are using brain scan technology to hone individuals’ ability to control the direction and precision of their own thoughts. In an experiment, researchers asked two dozen subjects to control a visual interface by silently counting numbers at fast and slow rates. “For half the tasks, the subjects were told to use their thoughts to control the movement of the needle on the device they were observing; for the other tasks, they simply watched the needle.” Those who were in control of the needle exhibited quieter, more precise brain functions.
What’s the Big Idea?
Just like the scientific double-blind test, technology may help us overcome our blind spots, especially in the murky world of neuroscience. Stephen LaConte, who led the recent research at Virginia Tech, said: “Our brains control overt actions that allow us to interact directly with our environments, whether by swinging an arm or singing an aria. Covert mental activities, on the other hand — such as visual imagery, inner language, or recollections of the past — can’t be observed by others and don’t necessarily translate into action in the outside world.” In the future, those with neurological disorders may be able to help cure themselves.
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