Re-imagining our relationship

Image credit Humphrey King

Image credit Humphrey King

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The decade of the brain, the brain mapping programs, the explosion in neuroscience globally - these have all brought about a new understanding of the three pounds of meat stuffed into our noggins. What used to be an inaccessible mass is slowly becoming an open book. What that means is that we have to start thinking about our brains, how to care for them, feed them and exercise them in new and better ways.

Our brains generate electrical impulses when our neurons fire. Catching a wave used to be surfer talk but for quite a while now it has been the bread and butter of innovators in neuroscience building technology around brain waves. Harnessing those brainwaves with powerful computer interfaces is allowing us to do everything from drive a remote control car to knitting a scarf to moving a robotic arm with a mindstate. By mapping a function to the brainwave pattern one's mind produces when in a certain state of relaxation or concentration, thought-based remote controls have hit the market. Unsurprisingly, they are being pushed even further in terms of their sophistication in the lab. 

Hear from Ariel Garten, the CEO of Toronto based mindstate-controlled computing company Interaxon, who are making wireless wearable EEG (electroencephalogram) headbands. Interaxon creates accessories that capture the electrical activity of our brains for the quantified self movement. For fun, they've even made a thought-controlled beer tap that pours you a draft when your brain enters an optimized wave state. That's brainstorming worth the reward. 

You'll also hear from Dr. John Donoghue of Brown University who focuses on turning thought into action. His research has led to a remarkable program called Braingate, a brain-computer interface that enables thought controlled mobility for people who can't move. Similarly to Ariel, his work is based on bringing our brains and computers together in the dance of daily life. Dr Donoghue is a core member of President Barack Obama's 10 year project to map the brain.

To investigate more in that direction we hear from Jerry Post, the Halifax man who woke up one day paralysed from the waist down but whose brain is already mending. Jerry is a living example of one of the most important discoveries about the brain in recent years: the brain's neuroplastic ability to change and create new pathways. 

This week on Think About It hear the stories of how entrepreneurs and scientists are riding brainwaves inside and outside of the cranium; not only that, but how you can too.


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