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'Touching' The Brain 30

Posted by Hemos
from the good-touch dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Medical professionals have always dreamt of mapping the activities of the human brain in real time -- 'touching' instead of looking. Of course, modern brain scanners, such as MRI, already offer sophisticated and passive views into the human brain. But now, IST Results reports that a young Finnish company, Nexstim, has developed a non-invasive brain scanning and stimulation system called navigated brain stimulation (NBS). This system "guides the precise delivery of targeted transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses to discrete brain areas." It is today the only device available for accurate prediction of the TMS stimulus location and dose within the human brain and is already in use in 20 hospitals and brain research centers worldwide. Read more for additional references and pictures about this noninvasive method for mapping and stimulating the brain."
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'Touching' The Brain

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  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:52AM (#15649663)
    "What do you think you're doing, Pinky?"
  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:55AM (#15649682)
    Coud this device perhaps be used in *ahem* other parts of the body with high neuron concentration?
  • I like this better than the invasive alternatives ... like sticking a fork in your ear, fish hook up the nose, or removing the top of your head (like Hannibal).
    • by dfedfe (980539)
      It definitely is better than invasive alternatives, which is why both of these technologies have been being used for, oh, decades? This appears to just be a company that combined two common brain-related-things (EEG and TMS) and wants money for doing so (hence all the patents and this advertisement/news story).

      Let's see if I can come up with a good patent... I keep food in my freezer, but it is frozen so I can't eat it. I heat frozen food in a microwave. Therefore I shall patent a machine that has a microwa
  • "Touching is Good." That said, anything that keeps me from getting my brains scrambled has to be.
  • by doti (966971)
    can't wait to see it applied as an interface to computer games.

    or p0rn.
    • Or to trick your brain into thinking you are living out your life when you are in fact lying hairless and enslaved in vat of pink slime as your body heat powers machines that sustain a race of sentient computer programs.

      Damn, that would make one awesome movie. Two would be too many. Three is right out.
    • typo (Score:1, Redundant)

      by doti (966971)
      you mispelled pr0n
  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Belgarion89 (969077)
    Ah, at long last man will finally be able to figure out a woman's brain.
  • Using this machine on the pleasure areas of the brain could become far more addictive than any drug around. It also wouldn't have the same medical side effects as other drugs. It's major side effect would be making people 100% non-functional. I assume torture is defined in the Geneva Conventions. But I wonder if the definition would cover giving this to prisoners and threatening to take it away if the don't talk.
    • I assume you're thinking of a scenario like in Larry Niven's The Ringworld Engineers [amazon.com] where "wireheads" spend all day stimulating their brains' pleasure centres. The textbook for the undergraduate psychology course I took a while back claimed that the latest research suggests that there really isn't a "pleasure center" as such and people really can't stimulate their brains that way.
      • I do believe that the medial forebrain bundle [wikipedia.org] is what people mean when they talk about a "pleasure center." If you stick a stimulating electrode into a rat's MFB and let it lever press to get stimulation, it will do so to its heart's desire, until it dies of dehydration from refusing to eat or drink or do anything except hit that lever. This [mcgill.ca] may be a more informative site than wikipedia (wikipedia is very bad at neuroscience--I really ought to work on that).
      • It was wrong; there is. IANAN (I am not a neuroscientist) but I recall reading an article a while back about a man who after a minor head accident, would have a severe reaction to any form of mild electrical stimuli; He would immediately become sexually aroused upon a small static shock, and anything more than a few volts of a zap would get him to spontaneously ejaculate. They believed that a 'short-circuit' was occurring in his brain making a wrong connection every time some electrical input was felt in h
  • There's a funny picture [nexstim.com] on the company's site. It looks like some sort of strange Hannibal Lecter simulator, with the svelte tech trying to find the tastiest part to start nibbling on.
  • Is anyone else reminded of the scene in the "Animatrix" when the machines have all the humans up on racks and are experimenting on the brain and the one guy starts laughing, and then crying? I wonder if this is foreshadowing something ominous...
    • If it's any consolation, the matrix violates the laws of thermodynamics. Plus, the human body is a grossly inefficent battery. Mr. Sun is what helps the little 'open system' that is Earth go. In other words, the robots would probably kill us and use us a fertilizer instead of an energy source. So don't worry!
  • http://www.ajnr.org/cgi/content/full/25/1/77 [ajnr.org]

    Real world probe grid put on the brain...

    Lots of fun, been there, done that...
    A little neurosurgery anyone?

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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