Monday, November 03, 2014

"Well, I don't like the idea of someone hearin' what I'm thinkin'"


New Scientist | As you read this, your neurons are firing – that brain activity can now be decoded to reveal the silent words in your head

TALKING to yourself used to be a strictly private pastime. That's no longer the case – researchers have eavesdropped on our internal monologue for the first time. The achievement is a step towards helping people who cannot physically speak communicate with the outside world.

"If you're reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head," says Brian Pasley at the University of California, Berkeley. "We're trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralysed or locked in to speak."

When you hear someone speak, sound waves activate sensory neurons in your inner ear. These neurons pass information to areas of the brain where different aspects of the sound are extracted and interpreted as words.

In a previous study, Pasley and his colleagues recorded brain activity in people who already had electrodes implanted in their brain to treat epilepsy, while they listened to speech. The team found that certain neurons in the brain's temporal lobe were only active in response to certain aspects of sound, such as a specific frequency. One set of neurons might only react to sound waves that had a frequency of 1000 hertz, for example, while another set only cares about those at 2000 hertz. Armed with this knowledge, the team built an algorithm that could decode the words heard based on neural activity aloneMovie Camera (PLoS Biology, doi.org/fzv269).

The team hypothesised that hearing speech and thinking to oneself might spark some of the same neural signatures in the brain. They supposed that an algorithm trained to identify speech heard out loud might also be able to identify words that are thought.

19 comments:

BigDonOne said...

Actually, this sort of technology was first used in the 1960's to directly obtain a measure of test subject's IQ. EEG electrodes were attached to test subject's scalp and the elapsed time from flashing of a strobe light, and the corresponding reaction in the subject's brain waves was recorded. Theory was that faster neural transmission was indicative of better capacity to process, store, and retrieve information in the brain.. Just like today's 3 Ghz CPUs are much better at information processing than the old Commodore 64's 1 Mhz speed.

It was found that faster reaction times to strobes correlated with higher test subject scores on conventional IQ tests. Beauty of this approach was it totally did *NOT* involve any 'cultural bias' in the test. When it was realized that this testing confirmed previously seen average IQ differences between certain ethnic groups (negating the usual PC explanation) such non-PC findings were suppressed and further research of this sort was not pursued. Investigators did not want to get the "Watson treatment"....

Dale Asberry said...

FYI, the follow-up line to this post's title: "No one likes the idea of hearing what you're thinking."

Naive Tom said...

BD, However that may be, your own IQ is so low, and that is so obvious from your writing, that it's hard to believe you've chosen to make this your pet issue.

Vic78 said...

What gets me is he believes he's up there with Isaac Asimov.

BigDonOne said...

@Vic, Tom, Dale....BD will take all the above pathetic responses as a 'Yes, it is indeed TRUE...'


[ it was not BD's idea to address, in this forum, what can be shown with brain wave analysis...]

Dale Asberry said...

Oh, I wasn't responding, Dawn. Simply indicating, in a similar off-topic fashion, the next line spoken in a particular Firefly episode.

Tom said...

Take it how you like. If you believe ad hominem responses prove your case, ok, that sure is a sticky cognitive problem you have there, but how does it affect me?

BigDonOne said...

This is Textbook Internet 101 -- When you can't refute the data, you attack the messenger.
BD gives you facts, you all give BD, e.g., "your own IQ is low," "2-inch punisher," etc, solid earmarks of a failed rhetorical position....


Can you envision CNu, advising his son to challenge school debate team opponent(s) with a "2-inch punisher" allegation...??? Now, the results of *THAT* would be something to see... rotflmao....

CNu said...

The Cathedral has more or less banished "aggression" from the practice and training of debate. That said, it is still permitted and very much enjoyed and handsomely rewarded by some debate judges, much as you can still very much expect to see rather profound aggression in parliamentary debates and in courts of law. Debate is just elementary practice for litigating after all.

I suspect that your unwillingness or inability to provide corroborating data (link(s)) for the claims you made relegated said claims to the tinhat circular file. Culture neutral measurements of G are a psychometric holy grail. Smoke'em if you got'em. If you ain't got'em - and I speck you don't - then.....,

Tom said...

LOL, I'm not trying to refute your "data." For all I know your claim may be correct. I have no idea whether some brains are genetically wired for more intelligence or not. It's not my field, and it makes no difference to me personally.


I don't necessarily think you're wrong on this point. I just think you're stupid.

BigDonOne said...

BD do got 'em -- From Pg 60, Lynn, "Race Differences in Intelligence" table below. Lynn cites several references, he didn't do these tests himself.... There are other sources in BD's awesome library, but the best one was an article on these techniques remembered in a Newsweek/Time/USNews from the 60's, put it all in laymen's language, the other refs are highly technical with statistical jive-speak. Could never track down this article again. (This was before Google, and the mags won't look it up for you, BD tried)

CNu said...

This Richard Lynn? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201210/the-pseudoscience-race-differences-in-penis-size umm-kay, if you say so....,

lol, CNu drops doomsday devices of insight into the nature of human outlier cognition http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2014/10/a-head-full-of-symphonies.html - and you give me hearsay pseudo-science from Dr. Two-Inch Punisher his damn self? If people even just knew the neural structures implicated in very-high functioning, much less the mechanisms giving rise to the same, and the underlying superset of hundreds if not thousands of genes involved in potentially giving rise to those structures..., bottomline BD, no matter how fervently and persistently you flack your religion hereabouts, that selfsame religion has not yet achieved the rigor-level of phrenology as of this writing.

BigDonOne said...

It is definitely *NOT* stupid. Public schools squander totally-wasted billions$$ trying to achieve equal outcomes for a difference that is genetically hardwired. Every new inner city school superintendent announces his/her highest priority is trying to eliminate the (genetically hardwired] Achievement Gap. Now there is something that really *IS* stupid.


That money should, instead, be focused on trying to produce the best outcomes for those students who in fact possess better academic aptitude. First step is to drop the PC BS and openly acknowledge genetic realities........

Tom said...

No, no. I didn't say it is stupid. I said you are stupid.


Now, obviously "genetically hardwired" and "racially determined" are two very different things. But I'm not talking about that. I'm saying the topic of intelligence, as a whole, is a subject you, personally, should take care to avoid. For reasons that, as Dr. Strangelove would say, "at this point must seem all too obvious."

BigDonOne said...

Maybe 'aggression' works in debate competitions and courtrooms, but "2-inch punisher," etc., would never fly in a technical conference or meeting environment. You must bring to the table facts and credible data that will withstand comprehensive scientific scrutiny....

ken said...

Let's remove all your racial intelligence ideas aside and drill down to a real life quandary of my own. I will use my own personal dilemma for an example. I have 3 boys, two seem pretty gifted physically and mentally, the other is a child who is special needs with severe developmental delay and an epileptic. I have sat many days with those wires glued on his head in the hospital waiting for the next seizure. And with the boy's difficulty to get the words to communicate to me I see the benefit possible with this research along with of course the negatives.


But moving on with my dilemma, I am a dad with limited time, many times I find myself trying so hard with the special needs boy at the expense of the other boys, trying to make the special needs boy catch a ball while my other boy would like to play normal catch. I finally do things with always two balls or frisbees or whatever, one to throw to the normal developing boys and one to the special needs in between the throws to the other. This has seemed to work the best to include everyone at their own level.


My normally developing children however haven't been stunted when compared to their peers because of my divided and extra attention involvement with my special needs son, in fact it seems to have taught them to include their brother more and even try and teach him because of what they see their dad model. I think it has created in my boys a heart for their special needs brother that they wouldn't have if he wasn't included. Its made them ( and the special needs brother is 10, the other brothers are 6 and 8) take their brother on like he is a younger brother they look out for.


I have many times wondered if the time I spend on my boy with special needs with his potential expectations so low, is going to be at the expense of my other children and maybe it might. But it seems right now my other boys are learning so much that they would never know if I excluded the one with low potential. And I believe my boys are more complete including their brother with much less potential.

BigDonOne said...

@Ken -- This sub-thread can be characterized as dealing with "efficient use of resources" whether it's school funding, parental time, or some such other finite resource. Since BD is a seasoned veteran of parenthood and grand-parenthood, and perhaps we can offer some applicable suggestions....

BD is genuinely sorry to hear of your less-capable son, and the corresponding time that situation involves. But if you can't free up the time you would like to play catch, or whatever else, you might bribe the other boys to help with that in exchange for something they desperately want. And to make sure they take this task seriously, and don't take out their inconvenience on the brother ( BD knows about resentment among siblings), establish some goal, e.g., percentage of successful catches from a specified distance (something beyond his current capability) so they will work in good faith at achieving the improvement. Would need to monitor the progress, adjust the parameters, maybe pay them off anyway even if there was ultimately no improvement. Might also impose some conditions like if brother "accidentally" get s smashed in the face with a thrown ball, and doesn't want to play anymore, all the potential rewards are forfeited.....

Kids make a good *resource*. As you may have noticed, they are endlessly wanting Money or Stuff. Best to avoid just giving it to them -- try to get something *you* want out of them in return and make it stick, follow through. Lawns mowed, cars washed, rooms cleaned, vegetables eaten, anything at all you're having difficulty with. It develops a work ethic and appreciation of the "No Free Lunch" reality looming in adulthood. It is an excellent character-building process. Best to get these activities well-established before kids start getting very independent as teenagers. Appropriate bribe also works to get them doing productive activity (optional summer classes?) rather than otherwise hanging out at the beach, or on (now days) Facebook and Instagram....

Dale Asberry said...

Stop being a pussy Dawn... this resource sucking l00z0r of a son needs to be dealt with swiftly and with all due prejudice. He will eventually need an obamaphone, welfare, and food stamps. When he gets out on his own, he'll be bringing us all down.

John Kurman said...

Ken, call me soft-headed or hearted, but I think you know every interaction with your son is a win-win, and not just you and him but, his brothers, family, neighborhood,all the way to me, a stranger. It's the weird partially eusocial neotonistic mutation we particular apes got. And it serves us well, most of the time, being chimp-childlike and loving. Point being, BD is a preformationist, believing in innate or inherent qualities of fitness, when in fact it is an environmental fitness wall that that DNA spaghetti gets epigenetically flung at. Further point being, I think you made your point.