Posts tagged brain scans

Smart move on The Observer's part having the always interesting Dr. Vaughan Bell on board. In this issue, he tells us about lie dectection and the return of the highly questionable polygraph. 

But despite the inherent unreliability of lie detectors, they have recently seen a rebirth. (…) Yet this is unlikely to be due to the technology itself; years of research have shown people are more truthful when wired up to a convincing but fake machine – the so-called “bogus pipeline to the truth” effect.

In the U.S.,  the poly is mostly used as an interrogation tool with the results by and large, not admissible into evidence because of reliability and validity issues, as per the SCOTUS.  So: if the poly gets the side eye from the 5th amendment [Schmerber v. California, 86 S. Ct. 1826 (l966)] for violating the protection of self incrimination, wouldn’t that also apply to fMRI lie detection (if that ever was a legit consideration) for evidence? 
Read Dr. Bell’s article with a little polygraph history here.

Smart move on The Observer's part having the always interesting Dr. Vaughan Bell on board. In this issue, he tells us about lie dectection and the return of the highly questionable polygraph. 

But despite the inherent unreliability of lie detectors, they have recently seen a rebirth. (…) Yet this is unlikely to be due to the technology itself; years of research have shown people are more truthful when wired up to a convincing but fake machine – the so-called “bogus pipeline to the truth” effect.

In the U.S.,  the poly is mostly used as an interrogation tool with the results by and large, not admissible into evidence because of reliability and validity issues, as per the SCOTUS.  So: if the poly gets the side eye from the 5th amendment [Schmerber v. California, 86 S. Ct. 1826 (l966)] for violating the protection of self incrimination, wouldn’t that also apply to fMRI lie detection (if that ever was a legit consideration) for evidence? 

Read Dr. Bell’s article with a little polygraph history here.

Ex-Christian school teacher, 75, gets probation in fondling case. “Form of dementia made it difficult for him to control impulses, attorneys suggest”

LaDuke had been at Schaumburg Christian for 26 years before a student told administrators in November that the teacher had lowered his trousers and masturbated behind his lectern as 13 high school students worked on math problems.

His attorney states LaDuke suffers from dementia, a degenerative neurological condition that has lead to frontal lobe syndrome and that he will be persueing an insanity defense wielding in a brain scan to support this diagnosis.

Owen Jones, director of theMacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience:

"It would be nearly inconceivable that any court would conclude that a person was insane on the basis of brain scanning alone," he said. "This technology, astonishing as it is, is not likely to displace all the other factors that go into assessing a person’s culpability. It probably will never be the only kind of evidence. It will be weighted in the balance of many other things."  [via]

But it landed him a plea.

 Criminally Flawed Mind Reading Technologies?

FAST (Future Attribute Screening Technology) is only the latest in a series of methods and technologies employed to probe suspects for scientific evidence of guilt, deceit, or criminal designs, stretching back to the earliest days of the polygraph lie detector in 1921. 


(…) thermal cameras, microphones and a laser radar that can measure heart rate and perspiration, FAST is designed to surreptitiously scan airport travelers for nervous behaviors, rapid blinking, or any other signs that might indicate intentions to commit violent terrorist acts…”  Via by tvjrennie

With a track record in the lab of only 78-80% accuracy and unknown rates of false positives and false negatives, you would think this type of technology isn’t ready for use in the court - but some say that if the technology, however imperfect, is meaningfully better than the next best alternative technique currently deployed in the legal process” then it should be introduced. 
Image: DHS/TSA Via

 Criminally Flawed Mind Reading Technologies?

FAST (Future Attribute Screening Technology) is only the latest in a series of methods and technologies employed to probe suspects for scientific evidence of guilt, deceit, or criminal designs, stretching back to the earliest days of the polygraph lie detector in 1921. 

(…) thermal cameras, microphones and a laser radar that can measure heart rate and perspiration, FAST is designed to surreptitiously scan airport travelers for nervous behaviors, rapid blinking, or any other signs that might indicate intentions to commit violent terrorist acts…”  Via by tvjrennie

With a track record in the lab of only 78-80% accuracy and unknown rates of false positives and false negatives, you would think this type of technology isn’t ready for use in the court - but some say that if the technology, however imperfect, is meaningfully better than the next best alternative technique currently deployed in the legal process” then it should be introduced. 

Image: DHS/TSA Via

Researchers can translate your thoughts into words...

That’s right, with brain scans.  So, the idea here is that when you have a thought about an object, topic, experience an emotion, construct a plan, these are ”ultimately reflected in the pattern of activity across all areas of [the] brain”  to the point where Princeton researchers say, they can translate these thoughts into actual text.  

Well, not exactly, it’s a proof of concept study (that will surely be replicated and developed further) where they can get a general idea what what your thinking. The example they use is if you think of a chair, they will know your thinking of furniture. That’s definitely in the ball park.  Wearing a uniform. Getting ready to bat. See? All those things would show a similar pattern too.

 The eventual goal is to translate brain activity patterns into the correct words to fully describe thoughts, the researchers say.

This could have applications for helping people with disabilities, for whom brain scans might be able to elucidate their thinking more effectively than pictures. via

Hmm mmm. But it will be used for other reasons too, and maybe sooner then we think. I’ll get to that later.

Image.    Full article.

New neuroimaging technique: Mapping Myelination

Neuroscientists have known for more than a century that myelination levels differ throughout the cerebral cortex, the gray outer layer of the brain where most higher mental functions take place.  via

Researcher, Van Essen’s journal article here  also explains how in MRI data already collected, or in less than 10 minutes, myelination images can be collected and used in conjunction with other imaging techniques to provide a more well rounded picture and understanding that we could once only see posthumously…after removing the brain, slicing it and staining it for myelin. This is important because:

Better brain maps will result, speeding efforts to understand how the healthy brain works and potentially aiding in future diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders…
The technique makes it possible for scientists to map myelination, or the degree to which branches of brain cells are covered by a white sheath known as myelin in order to speed up long-distance signaling. via


Image: “Red and yellow indicate regions with high myelin levels; blue, purple and black areas have low myelin levels.” via

New neuroimaging technique: Mapping Myelination

Neuroscientists have known for more than a century that myelination levels differ throughout the cerebral cortex, the gray outer layer of the brain where most higher mental functions take place.  via

Researcher, Van Essen’s journal article here  also explains how in MRI data already collected, or in less than 10 minutes, myelination images can be collected and used in conjunction with other imaging techniques to provide a more well rounded picture and understanding that we could once only see posthumously…after removing the brain, slicing it and staining it for myelin. This is important because:

Better brain maps will result, speeding efforts to understand how the healthy brain works and potentially aiding in future diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders…

The technique makes it possible for scientists to map myelination, or the degree to which branches of brain cells are covered by a white sheath known as myelin in order to speed up long-distance signaling. via


Image: “Red and yellow indicate regions with high myelin levels; blue, purple and black areas have low myelin levels.” via

Researchers Can Predict Future Actions from Human Brain Activity

Bringing the real world into the brain scannerresearchers at The University of Western Ontario from The Centre for Brain and Mind can now determine the action a person was planning, mere moments before that action is actually executed. via

The findings were published this week in the prestigious Journal ofNeuroscience, in the paper, “Decoding Action Intentions from Preparatory Brain Activity in Human Parieto-Frontal Networks.”   


 "fMRI images and images from other current functional neuroimaging technologies are not direct images of brain activity, but theory-laden representations of the outcomes of statistical analyses performed upon data about metabolic activity in the brain gathered in highly controlled settings when subjects respond to often very artificial and carefully hand-crafted questions." 

                  —-Says Nicole Vincent in Neuroimaging and Responsibility Assessments

 "fMRI images and images from other current functional neuroimaging technologies are not direct images of brain activity, but theory-laden representations of the outcomes of statistical analyses performed upon data about metabolic activity in the brain gathered in highly controlled settings when subjects respond to often very artificial and carefully hand-crafted questions." 

                  —-Says Nicole Vincent in Neuroimaging and Responsibility Assessments

 
In this article, Adrian Raine, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminology at University of Pennsylvania, says brain scans may predict antisocial behavior before it happens, thereby possibly identify killers before they kill. When they are children. He is known for his pioneering work in the science of neurodevelopmental criminology.

"Society has always wondered about “bad seeds,” people who seem to be possessed by devils. But what is emerging from this research is a cluster of biological markers that plant the bad seed in the brain. More striking, they appear to predict antisocial behavior even before it happens.  (…)  In adult offenders, juvenile delinquents, and even younger children, dozens of studies have pointed to brain features that seem to reduce fear, impair decision making, and blunt emotional reactions to others’ distress." 

The features were several neuroanatomical abnormalities such as both orbitofrontal regions and the amygdala appearing smaller than normal, and a enlarged corpus callosum being present. Raine is quick to acknowledge the rather large amount of ethical questions involved here as well as environmental effects and neuroplasticity. He is the first to state, “…we don’t want to say that biology is destiny or put a label on anyone exhibiting these markers”, so it seems to be about early detection and possible/preventive treatment. He is now doing studies to “ …see if psychotherapy or a diet rich in brain-protective supplements can reduce chances of antisocial acts.”  Raine is well known for his longitudinal studies that trace “physical patterns in children to conduct problems in adulthood”.      He continues:

“I think there’s no longer any question, scientifically, that there’s an association between the brain and criminal behavior. We’re beyond the point of debating that,” says Raine. “Every study can be criticized on methodology. But when you look at the whole, at all the different designs, it’s just hard to deny there is something going on with biology.”




 
The big ‘IF’
 
Surely knowing this work may elicit a skeptic or negative type response, Raine phrases the question as if we are discussing the identification of any medical condition: “So if I could tell you, as a parent, that your child has a 75-percent chance of becoming a criminal, wouldn’t you want to know and maybe have the chance to do something about it?”

"Of course, all of this brings up tremendously difficult ethical questions," he says. "But I don’t think I’d be doing my job unless I said that we need to start talking about them. It’s time we start this discussion, before we start labeling people."  Via

Image, article. Also published on the Neuroethics & Law Blog.

In this article, Adrian Raine, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminology at University of Pennsylvania, says brain scans may predict antisocial behavior before it happens, thereby possibly identify killers before they kill. When they are children. He is known for his pioneering work in the science of neurodevelopmental criminology.

"Society has always wondered about “bad seeds,” people who seem to be possessed by devils. But what is emerging from this research is a cluster of biological markers that plant the bad seed in the brain. More striking, they appear to predict antisocial behavior even before it happens.  (…)  In adult offenders, juvenile delinquents, and even younger children, dozens of studies have pointed to brain features that seem to reduce fear, impair decision making, and blunt emotional reactions to others’ distress." 

The features were several neuroanatomical abnormalities such as both orbitofrontal regions and the amygdala appearing smaller than normal, and a enlarged corpus callosum being present. Raine is quick to acknowledge the rather large amount of ethical questions involved here as well as environmental effects and neuroplasticity. He is the first to state, “…we don’t want to say that biology is destiny or put a label on anyone exhibiting these markers”, so it seems to be about early detection and possible/preventive treatment. He is now doing studies to “ …see if psychotherapy or a diet rich in brain-protective supplements can reduce chances of antisocial acts.”  Raine is well known for his longitudinal studies that trace “physical patterns in children to conduct problems in adulthood”.      He continues:

“I think there’s no longer any question, scientifically, that there’s an association between the brain and criminal behavior. We’re beyond the point of debating that,” says Raine. “Every study can be criticized on methodology. But when you look at the whole, at all the different designs, it’s just hard to deny there is something going on with biology.”

The big ‘IF’

Surely knowing this work may elicit a skeptic or negative type response, Raine phrases the question as if we are discussing the identification of any medical condition: “So if I could tell you, as a parent, that your child has a 75-percent chance of becoming a criminal, wouldn’t you want to know and maybe have the chance to do something about it?”

"Of course, all of this brings up tremendously difficult ethical questions," he says. "But I don’t think I’d be doing my job unless I said that we need to start talking about them. It’s time we start this discussion, before we start labeling people."  Via

Image, article. Also published on the Neuroethics & Law Blog.

Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness 
In the holy name of science, a reporter goes into a fMRI machine to masturbate to help researchers ”tease apart the mechanisms underlying sexual arousal. In doing so, not only have they discovered that there is more than one route to orgasm, but they may also have revealed a novel type of consciousness - an understanding of which could lead to new treatments for pain” since orgasm is a strong analgesic experience.
Eyeballing the prefrontal cortex, the researchers are hopeful this may shed light on thoughts can control pain through top-down pain relief methods.

This kind of research is incredibly useful,” says Heiman. “Orgasm is tied into the brain’s reward system and likely other important systems as well. There is much we can learn about the brain, about sensation, about how pleasure works and probably much more from this one physical response.” Via

Image above: how the “…reporter’s brain looks like at the moment of orgasm. The scan is a sagittal section, essentially a profile shot, that shows one moment in time in different “slices” through the brain…”  like a composite. The warmer the colors, the more blood flow present indicating activation in that area of the brain over 30 areas here…you can see that orgasm is nearly an entire brain event.
ALSO?  People were able to “control pain by watching real-time activity of a brain area called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and then mentally adjusting it”, Stanford University researchers say.  This resembles Eagleman’s prefrontal gym.
The journal articles: here, here, here.

Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness 

In the holy name of science, a reporter goes into a fMRI machine to masturbate to help researchers ”tease apart the mechanisms underlying sexual arousal. In doing so, not only have they discovered that there is more than one route to orgasm, but they may also have revealed a novel type of consciousness - an understanding of which could lead to new treatments for pain” since orgasm is a strong analgesic experience.

Eyeballing the prefrontal cortex, the researchers are hopeful this may shed light on thoughts can control pain through top-down pain relief methods.

This kind of research is incredibly useful,” says Heiman. “Orgasm is tied into the brain’s reward system and likely other important systems as well. There is much we can learn about the brain, about sensation, about how pleasure works and probably much more from this one physical response.” Via

Image above: how the “…reporter’s brain looks like at the moment of orgasm. The scan is a sagittal section, essentially a profile shot, that shows one moment in time in different “slices” through the brain…”  like a composite. The warmer the colors, the more blood flow present indicating activation in that area of the brain over 30 areas here…you can see that orgasm is nearly an entire brain event.

ALSO?  People were able to “control pain by watching real-time activity of a brain area called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and then mentally adjusting it”, Stanford University researchers say.  This resembles Eagleman’s prefrontal gym.

The journal articles: hereherehere.