CGP Grey explains that it might be better to think of your brain as two intelligences, with the mute right hemisphere forced to play sidekick to its conjoined twin.
The narrator uses a near-parody of the "youtube voice" to explain what happens when the bundle of neural fibers (corpus callosum) connecting the left and right hemispheres of a person's brain is severed. The hemispheres will operate independently of each other, sometimes in an adversarial way. For example, when the right brain (which is less verbal than the left brain) is given a written instruction, the person reacts appropriately, but the left brain won't know why the person followed the instruction, and will make up a reason for performing the action.
Here's a video about a man who had his corpus callosum severed to treat his epilepsy. He said he doesn't feel different but experiments reveal unusual behavior. Read the rest
On Jan. 7, Latulip met with a social worker and told her he thought he was somebody else, Gavin said. The social worker found his missing persons case file and police were then called in. Latulip volunteered to have a DNA test done and on Monday, the results came back indicating he was Latulip.
Gavin said it is an unusual, but happy resolution to the case.
"When someone goes missing for an extended period of time, they don't want to be found and they're off the grid and we don't find them," Gavin said. "Or the other option, sadly, is sometimes people are deceased. I've never heard of something like this where someone's memory has come back and their identity is recovered.
"It is absolutely a good news story," Gavin added. "I try not to only think about his mother's side, but also Mr. Latulip's side where for 30 years you've learned a certain way and someone tells you and confirms to you that's not who you are. That's a lot to take in, personally, right, so there's interesting pieces for him as well."
My friend Stanford neuroscientist Melina Uncapher and her colleagues are piloting a new public project called mymntr meant to create a "user guide for your brain" through brain tests for self-knowledge, interviews with fascinating creative folks to get a sense of the minds behind the madness, and lots of other cool stuff at the intersection of science and culture. Read the rest
Over at Backchannel, I wrote about how brain tech could transform how we work in the future, from displays that react to our mental state to offices that respond to our brainwaves.
Stanford and University of California neuroscientist Melina Uncapher is currently leading a pilot study with a large technology company to use mobile EEG tracking to study how the office environment — from lighting to natural views to noise levels — impacts the brain, cognition, productivity, and wellness of workers. Prepping a room for a big brainstorm? Maybe it’s time to change the light color.
“If you want to encourage abstract thinking and creative ideas, do you pump in more oxygen or less?” says Uncapher, a fellow at Institute for the Future. “Do you raise the ceiling height? Do you make sure you have a view of the natural environment, simulated or real? And if you want people to be more heads-down, is it better for them to be in a room with a lower ceiling?”
The goal, she explains, would be to develop a “quantified environment” that you could precisely tune to different types of working modes.
"Our Highest Selves?" (Backchannel)
(Illustration by Anna Vignet) Read the rest
A 21-year-old California woman died from an amoeba that settles in the brain and destroys its tissue. The disease she contracted is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It is rare, with only zero to eight cases reported a year, says Inyo Public Health officer Dr. Richard Johnson. But it is almost 100 percent fatal.
Humans are infected by the amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, when swimming or diving in fresh, warm water. The amoeba then migrates through the nose and skull, where it reaches the brain and begins to destroy brain tissue.
"I advise people to be cautious when using untreated hot springs in the Sierras," Dr. Johnson said, "The best way to do that is to keep your head above water."
No, it's not science fiction. For the first time ever, scientists in Albany, NY were able to use a "brain-to-text" interface to read thoughts and translate them into text. But it wasn't as simple as one might imagine. In fact, the experiment made me a bit squeamish. To use the "device," researchers placed seven patients in a controlled environment to perform a bit of surgery.
The patients' skulls were split open and electrode sheets were attached directly to their brains. They were also asked to read aloud from various texts (the Gettysburg Address, JFK's inaugural address, Charmed fan fiction, and a children's story) to get a baseline of what their brains were doing while they were speaking.
Finally, the "brainwave recognition device" was able to translate the patients' thoughts onto paper, although the translations were rough and limited. Until this device can read minds without cracking someone's head open, I think I'll keep my thoughts to myself.
From Ben Kingsley to brain stimulation, dream recorders to optogenetics... Read the rest
How is creativity related to schizophrenia and autism? Psychology professor Scott Barry Kaufman looks at a scientific paper suggesting that "creativity and psychosis share genetic roots" in the context of his own research on how different forms of creativity might relate to the schizophrenia spectrum and the autism spectrum. Read the rest
Brain City, this beautiful film by Noah Hutton made from neuroimagery collected at leading brain science labs, will screen in New York City just before midnight on Times Square's massive electronic billboards every night this month. Read the rest
“It is a form of mind reading,” said Marvin Chun, Yale professor of psychology, cognitive science and neurobiology who led the study.
The research will be published in the science journal NeuroImage, and an uncorrected proof is available here (only the abstract is free).
Joel Murphy (co-creator of the nifty PulseSensor, an Arduino sensor that detects pulse) teamed up with Conor Russomanno to create the OpenBCI, a Bluetooth-enabled, Arduino-compatible, 8-channel EEG platform that gives you access to high-quality, raw EEG data. What can you do with it? Biofeedback, DIY sleep research, creating art, controlling systems, and more.