Neuroscientists get yes-no answers via brain activity

May 30, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Western researchers have used neuroimaging to read human thought via brain activity when they are conveying specific 'yes' or 'no' answers.

Their findings were published today in The Journal of Neuroscience in a study titled, "The Brain's Silent Messenger: Using to Decode Human Thought for Brain-Based Communication."

According to lead researcher Lorina Naci, the interpretation of human thought from brain activity – without depending on speech or action – is one of the most provoking and challenging frontiers of modern neuroscience. Specifically, patients who are fully conscious and awake, yet, due to , are unable to show any behavioral responsivity, expose the limits of the neuromuscular system and the necessity for alternate forms of communication.

Participants were asked to concentrate on a 'yes' or 'no' response to questions like "Are you married?" or "Do you have brothers and sisters?" and only think their response, not speak it.

"This novel method allowed healthy individuals to answers questions asked in the scanner, simply by paying attention to the word they wanted to convey. By looking at their we were able to correctly decode the correct answers for each individual," said Naci, a postdoctoral fellow at Western's Brain and Mind Institute. "The majority of volunteers conveyed their answers within three minutes of scanning, a time window that is well-suited for communication with brain-."

Naci and her Western colleagues Rhodri Cusack, Vivian Z. Jia and Adrian Owen are now utilizing this method to communicate with behaviorally non-responsive patients, who may be misdiagnosed as being in a vegetative state.

"The strengths of this technique, especially its ease of use, robustness, and , may maximize the chances that any such patient will be able to achieve brain-based communication," Naci said.

Explore further: With mind-reading speller, free-for-all conversations that are silent and still

Related Stories

Research determines how the brain computes tool use

May 8, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—With a goal of helping patients with spinal cord injuries, Jason Gallivan and a team of researchers at Queen's University's Department of Psychology and Centre for Neuroscience Studies are probing deep ...

Recommended for you

A turbo engine for tracing neurons

April 27, 2017

Putting a turbo engine into an old car gives it an entirely new life—suddenly it can go further, faster. That same idea is now being applied to neuroscience, with a software wrapper that can be used on existing neuron tracing ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 30, 2013
The activities (highlighted regions) of the brain are completely explained by the following (geometric) organization principle:

No two planes are alike in humans.

Those planes for senses of location - behind every sense lies a sense of location for each sense processing sensory input - can be uniquely identified by ultra-specific questions.

The planes' shapes and locations will be unique for every human.
The result/outcome is unique as well - despite the universality of 'yes', or 'no' questions - all yes or no questions will have taken unique paths (connecting the planes' projections onto themselves) - a transparent sheet folio presentation as the most primitive analogy to neuroscience to explain how and what the organization of brain-based communication works.

The are 'dramatic'('moving') questions that provoke ('reactivate') entire histories for every human being.
The question is which questions do this.
not rated yet May 30, 2013
"The question is which questions do this."

"You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, crawling toward you. . . . But you're not helping. Why is that?"
not rated yet May 30, 2013
Answer that. Readers want to know.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.