Japanese Neuroscientists: Yeah, An Intersect is Doable

If this can hap­pen, this will blow all of our minds.  Literally.

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.

Adult early visual areas are suf­fi­ciently plas­tic to cause visual per­cep­tual learn­ing,” said lead author and BU neu­ro­sci­en­tist Takeo Watan­abe of the part of the brain ana­lyzed in the study.

Neu­ro­sci­en­tists have found that pic­tures grad­u­ally build up inside a person’s brain, appear­ing first as lines, edges, shapes, col­ors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example.

Researchers stud­ied the early visual areas for their abil­ity to cause improve­ments in visual per­for­mance and learning.

Some pre­vi­ous research con­firmed a cor­re­la­tion between improv­ing visual per­for­mance and changes in early visual areas, while other researchers found cor­re­la­tions in higher visual and deci­sion areas,” said Watan­abe, direc­tor of BU’s Visual Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory. “How­ever, none of these stud­ies directly addressed the ques­tion of whether early visual areas are suf­fi­ciently plas­tic to cause visual per­cep­tual learn­ing.” Until now.

For those unaware with the NBC com­edy / drama / action show “Chuck,” this pretty much high­lights what they’ve called “The Inter­sect 2.0″ in the series.   This newer Inter­sect was a mas­sive gov­ern­men­tal com­puter data­base which had all the government’s intel­li­gence secrets in, but also allowed the per­son with it to access skills they never pre­vi­ously had such as kung fu, other lan­guages, weapons use and so on.

Here’s a link to a mon­tage at YouTube.  I’d embed it, but either NBC or Warner Bros. is not too happy with mass dis­tri­b­u­tions of their content.

The two-hour series finale of “Chuck” is tomor­row night on NBC and 8 / 7 C.

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  • Mike Litscher

    Sounds like the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.