Brain training

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Wilshire

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« on: July 04, 2013, 03:38:11 pm »
Don't know if anyone here watches "Through the Wormhole", its a dorky show on the science channel that tries to show scifi meeting reality.

Anyways, yesterday it was about brains. One of the things that was brought up was that a woman is developing a fancy headband that allegedly helps take a novice of a certain activity and train something like 300% faster than those without.

 The technology takes the brain activity of an 'expert' records it, and tries to 'train' the novice by getting them to come into the same mental state as the expert. This apparently does a spectacular job at helping people learn things.

I was curious as to what anyone thought about how that might affect humanity. If something like this could be used to drastically reduce the amount of time it took someone to become an 'expert' at any skill, say any athletic event, how would it affect everything? Would it cause an explosion of greatness? Reducing the time it takes to become equal to the current level of expertiese, allowing significantly more time in ones life to read new heights. Or, would it cause a great stagnation of talent, a completely level playing field, where no one bothered to work harder than the next guy, knowing that eventually they will be able to 'cheat' their way up after a few years.
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Madness

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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 05:39:20 pm »
Lol, I don't watch much TV but the idea that a show with subject matter like this (pop-science) narrated by Morgan Freeman escaped my notice saddens me. This is the second time in the past few months I've encountered it.

That said, I think these questions are exceedingly complex ;). Love it!

From what I can find (without watching the episode and only reading reviews) the example you are using refers to studies done by US military in training drone pilots.

Bear with me, as this is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, this could get long-winded:

There is a lot of theory going into these practices and not much hard evidence to back it up, though that is changing quickly. Basically, these aren't novel, unlocked abilities, they are reflections of evolving technological capabilities.

You want to pick up a task. This is going to involve a particular schema of activation (neuronal firing) in your brain (for instance, the multiple perceptions involved in simply throwing a ball: where you are, what you see, smell, hear, feel, and taste, your state of mind, attentive awareness - itself a schema, which compounds learning speed, when firing within schemas of novel stimulation involved in learning new tasks). Learning also seems to follow a loose descriptive formula; at first there are low levels of neuronal firing that reach a crescendo before what's been called pruning, where the brain culminates in using a large area and density of neurons to perform a task inefficiently but then comes to use less to do more as it balances for efficient (arguably, there are tons of competing theories about the mechanisms by which the brain actually does this).

Now a couple years ago, I suggested to peoples who had no business listening to me that we needed to cultivate an archive of neuroanomalous individuals from all sorts of expertise; that is, simply record as many experts as possible either actually performing or imagining the practice of their expertise in as many different neuroimaging devices as possible so as to enable the development of neuropractices bridging the gap between neurotypicals (us commoners) and the neuroanomalous (experts).

This is exactly the same hypothesis by which they are using the tDCS (transcranial direct-current stimulation) in this context. The idea is that since they can mimic the excitatory and inhibitory schema of an expert's neuronal firing with a programmed tDCS, when novices perform tasks, with a similar schema of firing, they actually perform much closer towards expertise... in effect, the tDCS acts as training wheels of sorts for the novice's brain. Since schemas of activition follow that plastic curve of learning, the boosted brain, achieves efficient firing balance much quicker than normal.

Theory aside, I actually despise these things - it simply answers humanity's insatiable laziness... I would much rather do embodied practice and achieve faster and faster results through the application of compounding schemas. But hey, I'm a freak ;). One who will quickly be left behind by the first-adopters and pioneering-users of these technologies.

I was curious as to what anyone thought about how that might affect humanity. If something like this could be used to drastically reduce the amount of time it took someone to become an 'expert' at any skill, say any athletic event, how would it affect everything? Would it cause an explosion of greatness? Reducing the time it takes to become equal to the current level of expertiese, allowing significantly more time in ones life to read new heights. Or, would it cause a great stagnation of talent, a completely level playing field, where no one bothered to work harder than the next guy, knowing that eventually they will be able to 'cheat' their way up after a few years.

Once again - Semantica! Bakker write that fucking book ;).

The athletics question, aside, is a particularly interesting one - the neurons that enable muscle contraction and relaxation would certainly benefit ability. There have been experiments where individuals imagine working out and show actual muscular increase but it seemed definitively hampered by non-movement (like the iconic piano practice experiments).

Only a certain number of individuals will embrace this future, Wilshire. Almost certainly companies will attempt to incorporate technologies and nootropics like this into the standard conduct but these are very specific and targeted aims. Also, there are legislative reactions and socioeconomic circumstances to consider.

I'm sure this is food for thought for now - I had other things to do, Wilshire :P. My fault for making this my homepage.

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