MRI in a ski hat? Seeking better ways to hack our brains

brain hacking
Image credit: Project Maya
[A]t Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine conference in San Diego, technologists presented new non-invasive devices that seek to simplify and democratize brain modulation.

Being inside an MRI machine is not a pleasant experience. You’re in a tiny claustrophobic tube surrounded by a giant magnet, and instructed to lie extremely still.

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To Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen, CEO and founder of Openwater, the solution is simple in concept: shrink the machine down to the size of a ski hat, a bra, or a bandage, and manufacture the gadget at the cost of a smartphone. The trick, she explains, is to move away from magnets and instead turn to light. The human body is translucent to red and near-infrared light, allowing our tissues—including both skull and brain—to be illuminated.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Neuroscientists cannot afford to ignore differences between male, female brains

Dr. Eric Leuthardt, a neurosurgeon at Washington University in St. Louis [is] experimenting with ways to capture the brain’s movement instructions using wearables.

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Leuthardt found that using a cap embedded with electrodes, he could reliably pick up the low-frequency signals generated by the premotor cortex. These “planning” signals are then sent to a machine learning algorithm to parse out the intended movement. Finally, the results of the computation are used to control a prosthetic to carry out the movement.

[This could democratize] the technologies, allowing more people to manipulate their brain activity without first going under the knife.

Read full, original post: Hacking the Mind Just Got Easier With These New Tools

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