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Brain Hacking

June 5th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

 

Brain Hacking by Siegfried Othmer, PhDThe June issue of The Atlantic Magazine features an article on brain hacking by Maria Konnikova. The article reviews various technology options that give some hope of sprucing up brain function. First of all there are the smart pills. Already the stimulants are finding use beyond their medical applications in boosting test performance among college students.

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Neurofeedback: The First Brain-Computer Interface

March 9th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Neurofeedback: The First Brain-Computer InterfaceBrain Computer Interfaces (BCI) are a relatively new fascination in the neurosciences, and the payoff in research has already been significant. By tracking the activity of a small number of neurons in the motor cortex, for example, the actual movement of an arm to direct the cursor on a screen can be fairly emulated by a robot arm that receives its instructions from the tracking electronics. Scientists had to make the ‘translation’ from the neural firing streams into instructions for movement, and they were able to do so successfully based on the prior observations. This is the work of Miguel Nicolelis and his team.

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Thoughts on the Police and NFL Scandals

February 18th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Thoughts on the Police and NFL ScandalsIn recent months we have been sensitized once again to the problem of police violence perpetrated against men in their custody. The most famous cases persist in one’s memory—Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York, Ezell Ford in Los Angeles. And then there was also Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old shot in Cleveland. But there are the non-fatal cases as well that linger in memory: the woman kicked in the groin by a female officer while in custody; the man thrown on the ground with such force that his neck is broken. One reacts with revulsion to all these events.

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The Problem of Homelessness Among Veterans

February 18th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

 

The Problem of Homelessness Among VeteransWhy is there a problem of homelessness among veterans? Indeed there is a shortage of affordable housing in Los Angeles, but that is not the real issue here. Rather, we are confronted with a problem of the brain. Homeless veterans are not able to sustain relationships, and eventually they find themselves out on their own. The downward slide may take years. When the Director of the Salvation Army Bell Shelter (the largest shelter for formerly homeless veterans West of the Mississippi) was asked recently about whether he was seeing a lot of veterans of the recent wars, his answer was, “not yet.” By and large, they have not yet worn out their familial and other connections. But among those still suffering from PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) years after return from combat, a gradual downward slide is the likely prospect.

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On Mindfulness

February 12th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

On MindfulnessFormer governor Pete Wilson of California has been quoted as saying, “I tried introspection once, and I didn’t like it.” He had been a Marine in his earlier life, and it is not entirely surprising that the mentality of a Marine would not settle easily into a meditation routine. I actually have a certain sympathy for his attitude because I seem to face a similar barrier when trying the mindfulness thing. I enjoy the fact that my brain seems to bubble up ideas all the time that I then find entertaining to pursue. Turning that off is really not an option, as seasoned meditators know. All that one can do is choose how one reacts to the appearance of such kindlings of thought. The meditator has practice in just letting the thought go without pursuing it. And here is where the problem lies.

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Virtual Reality

January 15th, 2015

by Siegfried Othmer, PhD

Virtual Reality
Developments in the virtual reality sphere were another highlight of the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Matters were raised to a higher level of visibility even before the conference, when Facebook pumped $2B into Oculus. A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon you are talking about real money. As it happens, we took a look at an Oculus system a while back to evaluate its suitability for neurofeedback. It wasn’t long before each of us felt just a little woozy from the experience, and opted for going back to maneuver in the real rather than the virtual world.

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The EEG Info Newsletter circulates via email at least once a month. A variety of topics related to the Neurofeedback / EEG Biofeedback field are covered in over 300 articles.

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