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Alpha waves are a particular type of brain activity where a big group of your neurons
all fire together, in synchrony, ten times every second, at 10-Hertz. So it is like 10
fires every second, this big group of neurons. How big the alpha peaks and troughs are represents
how many neurons are contributing to this electrical field. It was thought, in the past,
that alpha waves represented just kind of the idling process the brain. So, when you
put your car in neutral and it just starts to idle, that was thought of what an alpha
wave was; just kind of your visual cortex stopping processing. But it has come to be
found in many more brain areas that this is kind of a general inhibitory mechanism in
the brain. So it is not just an "off" that just happens whenever you are not doing
anything. But you can selectively choose which parts of your brain to inhibit with these
alpha oscillations. So, okay, I have a goal. I want to pay attention to all the stuff that
is in my lane while I am driving and other stuff in that lane or oncoming traffic. And
so, to do that, it is not magic. Your brain has to selectively boost some processing and
decrease some other processing. And that is what we think where alpha oscillations come
in is that they can target those different circuits selectively and any brain area can
express this alpha activity as a way to dampened down the activity there.
It has become clear you can kind of give people feedback in real-time about their alpha. So
you can measure their alpha and then tell them how much they have. And then say, Okay,
increase it." And they do not necessarily know how to increase it. But they will just
try something. And, if it works, you will give them feedback and slowly you can get
them to boost up or dampen their alpha.
I think that is a really exciting avenue of research. People are really trying to integrate
brain imaging and robotics and control arms and control movements. But for people that
do not have disabilities and people that do not need to control robots across the room,
how can brain imaging help the average person? I think that the future is going to bring
a kind of monitoring of our online states; besides just "Oh, I am getting tired and
I am yawning." You will be able to see that you are getting tired or that you are not
paying attention or that you are getting anxious and maybe be able to adjust these things in
real-time.
The cool they about this technology is that there are starting to be these startup companies
that are making more and more portable EEG systems so that you do not look like you are
wearing an EEG thing. It is just a simple band or on your glasses that you are wearing.
Also there is a group here, John Rogers' group, that makes flexible, conformable EEG
electrodes that you can stick and they will stay like a tattoo onto your head. So you
can imagine people wearing them more permanently around the sides their head. I know the U.S.
archery team and the marksman team already uses portable EEG systems to train people
to get in the right cognitive state as they are leading into their shot. And they know that
a certain state is the best for getting the optimal targeting. And so something like that
might be better, not just for archers and shooters in the Olympics, but for the average
truck driver, the average mum that is driving to get groceries, should maybe also have something
warning her when she is not paying attention. And as that field progresses and the technology
advances, our ability to understand people in the real world environment and how their
brain processes the real world will undoubtedly improve.
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Alpha Waves and the Future of Brain Monitoring

1027 タグ追加 保存
Precious Annie Liao 2014 年 5 月 5 日 に公開
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