Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brain imaging can predict the mistakes you are about to make.

From Fountain's review of work by Eichele et al.:

...brain patterns start to change about 30 seconds before an error is committed... changes were seen in two brain networks. One, called the default mode region, is normally active when a person is relaxed and at rest. When a person is doing something, like playing the game, this region becomes deactivated...researchers found that in the time leading up to an error, the region became active again — the subject was heading toward a relaxed state...Another network in the right frontal lobe gradually became less active, the researchers found. This is an area in the brain thought to be related to cognitive control, Dr. Eichele said, to keeping “on task.”

...it might be possible someday to develop a warning system — perhaps by monitoring the brain’s electrical activity, which is more practical — that could be used by people doing monotonous or repetitive tasks. Such a system would alert users when they are heading for a harmful or costly, not to mention mindless, mistake.

1 comment:

Topniz said...

For the first time, I'm happy to found a scientific vision to that subject of "default mode". In my opinion, the future of this ability to detect the switch to that default mode is better to enable its "education"!
I will exaplin myself. The default mode is activated during rest and deactivated during mental engaging activity (like solving a problem or playing a game). That means the "defulat mode" region is not confronted with real situations. In this case, the "neural network" of this brain region is not well "formed" to handle real-life situations. I can be wrong, but with some extraplotation we can think that in real-life situations, when the "normal" active region, in the frontal lobe region, is exhausted and becoming inactive, the default mode region will try to handle this real-life situation. But, it is not well educated and it will act like a child: we are heading to an error.
Developing an alert system based on this observation can be helpful for car drivers or people in at risk jobs...
But, I believe that a good ooportunity for that observation is to develop programs to "educate" this default mode region. That way we can help people resist to stress and exhausting situations. Of course, this is very helpful for military people. And, I think even that engineers (as hard mentally working people) and mentally engaged people in general have succeeded "educate" their default mode region.
Even better, artists, great thinkers, inventors are people that rely on their "default mode" region to imagine new solutions and to invent or discover new things: this default mode region, I think, is the way to cut with "common sens" and to start thinking "different".

To finish my point, I know that Einstein made a dream before discovering his restreined relativity theory: he dreamt of an angel lifting himself (Einstein I mean) standing on a balance in a cage. And Einstein was able to feel gravity in both situations lifting upward (balance indicating higher weight) and lifting downward (balance indicating lower weight). I believe that Einstein was a hard working man beyond exhausted situations and got his default mode educated. And, perhaps that's why his feelings in dream mode are intact and similar to real life mode.

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