Friday, May 09, 2014

Brain activity display in the spirit of P.T. Barnum

Carl Zimmer points to some amazing brain graphics, notably one from Gazzaley's lab. You should use the gear symbol to slow down the graphic, and set the resolution to high definition if your computer supports it. Setting the screen to full display and frequently pausing the play through lets you see all sorts of moving flashing lights going to and from familiar brain areas, but what's the behavioral or subjective correlate??

 This is great show-biz, but I wish Zimmer's statement that "the volunteer was simply asked to open and shut her eyes and open and close her hand." appeared here and that the moving graphics were labelled "eye shutting" "eye opening" "hand opening" "hand closing," and could they maybe tell us which colors refer to which frequency bands? Very frustrating. Maybe if I dug a bit more diligently on their websites I could find the information, but at this point I'm not willing to spend more time on it. Here is the description provided:
This is an anatomically-realistic 3D brain visualization depicting real-time source-localized activity (power and "effective" connectivity) from EEG (electroencephalographic) signals. Each color represents source power and connectivity in a different frequency band (theta, alpha, beta, gamma) and the golden lines are white matter anatomical fiber tracts. Estimated information transfer between brain regions is visualized as pulses of light flowing along the fiber tracts connecting the regions.
The modeling pipeline includes MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scanning to generate a high-resolution 3D model of an individual's brain, skull, and scalp tissue, DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) for reconstructing white matter tracts, and BCILAB ( / SIFT ( to remove artifacts and statistically reconstruct the locations and dynamics (amplitude and multivariate Granger-causal ( interactions) of multiple sources of activity inside the brain from signals measured at electrodes on the scalp (in this demo, a 64-channel "wet" mobile system by Cognionics/BrainVision (
The final visualization is done in Unity and allows the user to fly around and through the brain with a gamepad while seeing real-time live brain activity from someone wearing an EEG cap.

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