Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Potential To Learn High-Performance Tasks With Little Or No Conscious Effort (with Video summary!)

Image with a head and three brain patterns going to people, Chinese characters and airplanes.

In the future, a person may be able to watch a computer screen and have his or her brain patterns modified to improve physical or mental performance. Researchers say an innovative learning method that uses decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging could modify brain activities to help people recuperate from an accident or disease, learn a new language or even fly a plane.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

[The NSF has a video about this learning method (Decoded Neurofeedback)at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF,

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF

news_images.jsp?cntn_id=122523&org=NSF

however on 15 December 2011

From the 14 December 2011 Medical News Today article

New research published in the journalScience 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. …

“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? ….

Read entire news article

December 14, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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