As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears. – US President Obama on the BRAIN initiative
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe – Michio Kaku.
“Know Thyself” – A Greek Motto
Like most of us I too have this burning desire to understand the real ME which gives me a feeling of “I” or “Self”. Some theory suggests that its all in the brain, with our Prefrontal Cortex responsible for this, and some that its more than that. There are no easy answers and that’s why we have Science to our rescue.
Two theories of Consciousness
1. One theory suggests that our Brains are like Generators which can produce current / signals. If we go by this analogy then the concept of Consciousness vanishes. Our brains are so evolved and capable that it integrates all the information and presents it in a cohesive manner.
2. A second theory suggests that our Brains are analogous to television or radio sets which receives signals or instructions from some source.
In this article I do not explore this Science of Consciousness, which I plan to do in a future post, but I do want to share some of the cutting edge research, taking place worldwide, in the field of Brain and Neuroscience.
If you are not already familiar with the on going work in the field of Brain research, I hope this post will help you get interested.
Cutting Edge Brain Research and MRI
With advances in technology Neuro Scientists are better able to understand the Brain. With Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI Scans it has become much easier to study and analyze the brain using brain images. In time to come MRI devices will become more portable and affordable – Sciencedaily.
Telepathy and the power of our Thoughts
For the first time, scientists have been able to send a simple mental message from one person to another without any contact between the two, thousands of miles apart in India and France. – Read More
The team whose members come from Barcelona-based research institute Starlab, French firm Axilum Robotics and Harvard Medical School, published its findings earlier this month in the journal PLOS One
As you can see researches like these are opening a whole new world of possibilities.Universities worldwide are participating in such researches.
Imagine a world where you can communicate without speaking. Where you can transfer messages to someone, located anywhere in the world, just by thinking.
Without the constraints of the language you speak.
Where you can control your gadgets including your computer, car, home and what not just by the power of your Thoughts. Imagine what possibilities this holds for people with serious medical conditions. Using this stroke victims can convey thoughts.
Read someone’s Thought’s
Reading someones thoughts is also an area of research. Although there are ethical and privacy issues involved, which have to be worked on.
We now have devices which can analyze our thoughts and figure out what we are thinking. And based on that make suggestions. Yes just like you can fine tune your Car engine or your Computer Systems you can fine tune your Brain. Hear this exciting TED talk by Tan Le. Tan Le is the founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifescience, a bioinformatics company that’s working on identifying biomarkers for mental and other neurological conditions using electroencephalography (EEG).
Brain Computer Interface
One such development is the Brain Machine Interface. Which has created a new wave of Innovation. OpenBCI is an open source project born out of this need. It has already lead to lot of innovations.
Want to let computer draw your sketches via your thoughts – Brainwriter does just that.
Inspired by the progression of Tempt’s ALS, the Brainwriter is a next-gen device that allows the user to draw using only their thoughts.
The Brainwriter, a personal EEG device to operate a computer mouse or gaming console, creates a seamless interface between brain and machine.
Brainwriter will enable people suffering from any kind of neuromuscular syndrome to continue to write and draw as their condition worsens.
How this Works at a high level
Our Brain is electrical and produces signals. Electrons oscillating inside the brain broadcasts radio waves. These signals can be captured using Electrodes.
Ever heard of the term EEG ?
Electrodes on the scalp capture the electrical activity in the Brain. A chip can convert this analog data from electrodes and convert to digital format. Texas Instruments has created a chip which does just that.
Collecting and Analyzing EEG data is the crux here, which OpenBCI project does.
We share an unfaltering passion for harnessing the electrical signals of the human brain and body to further understand and expand who we are.
OpenBCI stands for open-source brain-computer interface (BCI).
Future – Brain transfer and Immortality
I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer, so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death. However, this is way beyond our present capabilities – Stephen Hawking
The idea of copying the human brain to a computer so it can live on without the body has a strong hold on futurists, neuroscientists, and folks that just want to live forever.
Using the power of the mind to communicate with People & Machines and to understand Consciousness is the subject of intense research at Universities around the world.
It is not wrong to say that we have just hit the tip of the iceberg as far as Brain Research is concerned. Not to take away the significant amount of advances made in this field.
There are still some topics I have left out to cover in future posts like brain gate, prosthetics and of course consciousness.
With all this information I hope this post is able to provide a glimpse of the kind of work that is happening in the fields of Brain research. We would like to hear from you if you are also aware of something exciting going on in this field, are involved in or are planning to do something.