Brain 2013

Several years ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I had always been pretty good at accomplishing goals I set, but I was starting to find it harder and harder to follow through on something like those annual resolutions. I was also finding it hard to locate particular words when I was looking for them; and I long ago decided that if something is not written down, it does not exist…at least not for me and my overburdened memory.

My proposed solution to the challenges facing my aging brain is something Seth and I named ‘Google Brain’. It is the chip that will be implanted into our brains to be augmented by Google’s outrageous computers and search capabilities. While I have no advance knowledge of Google working on such a project, I have hope that they are doing so…and that it will be available while I can still benefit from it. They are even welcome to the name I have chosen for their project!

Several things have popped into my awareness lately to make me hope my fantasy will one day be a reality.

At the beginning of January, some psychology colleagues on a technology listserv of which I am a member mentioned an episode of 60 Minutes in which a young man successfully participated in a stair-climbing event in a 103-story Chicago building. This man has a prosthetic leg that he controls by his thoughts.

Another colleague responded indicating that there are many projects in the works that extend that same technology. Neuroscience has become the ‘hot’ research field related to mental health and behavior. It has many practical applications, but can seem so complicated as to be off-putting to some. That is why a video explaining some of the technology and research tools being used is so delightful. This is a clear and visually appealing explanation of semantic mapping in the brain, something that has fascinated me since the very early brain research demonstrated the storing of memories in particular regions of the brain, and their recall through electrical stimulation during brain surgery. The use of fMRI to advance this purpose is very exciting. These are important arenas for behavioral health providers to be informed about. It might well be the future of this field.

We certainly are approaching what many of us thought might be the distant future. Verizon together with cellphone producer HTC has started to communicate the image of humans enhanced by technology with their Droid DNA phone and ads. Google released their new Google Glasses in 2012. These are glasses enhanced with computer, camera, and internet connectivity. When I wrote about two books that used these glasses and fMRI in 2011, I knew the technology was available somewhere but did not know it would soon be here for the rest of us to start to access.

I love finding out about technologies like this that may be available to all of us in my lifetime. Maybe I will even be able to make and carry out New Year’s resolutions again with the help of some of these tools-in-the-making. Are there things in your world that provide the same kind of  excitement and hope for you? New tools, new toys, new ideas? Please share your comments below.



0 thoughts on “Brain 2013

  • Trish Merchant says:

    Very interesting stuff happening! My boyfriend and I like to watch those shows like How It’s Made, or How Did They Do That etc… there is one that focuses more on science and technology which I can’t think of now… but they recently had a episode about this company in Silicon Valley that has created a ‘headband’ or headset type gadget that through picking up your brain waves, you can move objects! They had a remote helicopter and I think a toy truck and the guy wore the gadget and showed how this technology works and is advancing. I immediately thought of people who are paralyzed or who are in some way incapacitated and how this technology would be an amazing advancement.

  • ‘TIS A BRAVE NEW WORLD. Looks like the makers of Star Trek, the Matrix etc were not that far off! re 60 minutes, they did a recent epidoe about brain implants and prosthetic limbs. Left me with two thoughts: Our scientific advancements are absolutely amazing and if someone in my family needed them, I’d do whatever I could to pay for them. In contrast, how are we as a society going to pay for all of this. Obviously we can’t. The time is now here that our scientific advancements have excelled way beyond our ability to pay for them. Additionally, this calls into question how we can find more “low tech” ways to be healthy. Instead of discovering the latest artery-cleaning medication, maybe we need to become more active, eat better and sleep better. If we all did those things better: eat well, sleep more, exercise more, our healthcare costs would dramatically decline.

    • That is the show I referenced in the post, Vince. I agree, the cost of these things will be outrageous at the start. On the other hand, I believe that some of them will become so popular that the costs will come down quickly. I also agree that the only way we will be able to pay for our healthcare is if we do a much better job of taking care of ourselves. Prevention (good diet, exercise) is certainly the best way to do that. Of course, that is no guarantee, so we will all, as a society, need to decide how much we are willing to spend on treatment of the exceptions, like the loss of a limb from a motorcycle accident indicated in this 60 Minutes episode.

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