Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Brains!

Studying to be a London taxi driver can increase the brain size of at least 39 people.

A few years ago, I would have taken a small study like this more seriously. Now it is, at best, an indication that a real study might be worthwhile.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This Would Be Creepier …

… if it were less dubious.

According to a study with 10 subjects (seen via io9)

"The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns...led to visual performance improvement...without presenting the feature or subjects' awareness of what was to be learned," said lead researcher Takeo Watanabe. He continues:

We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects' visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training.

Is this research mind-blowing and exciting? Absolutely. I mean come on — automated learning? Yes. Sign me up. But according to research co-author Mitsuo Kawato, the neurofeedback mechanism could just as soon be used for purposes of hypnosis or covert mind control. And that... I'm not so keen on.

"We have to be careful," he explains, "so that this method is not used in an unethical way."

I think taking a study with a sample size of 10 seriously is unethical enough.

Besides, earlier mind-control research went nowhere … or at least that's what THEY want us to think …

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don't Tell the Tobacco Companies

According to a study with 36 subjects, carbon monoxide makes people better able to tolerate noise pollution.

On the other hand, maybe it makes them deaf.