Monday, January 30, 2012


Can your thoughts flip a lever, push a button, or open a valve?

Thought control fascinates me.

When I began to read an article in TIME about the latest advances in thought control, I thought it was spooky talk about magicians like Houdini.

Nope. A plain regular man has demonstrated that he can tell a computer, without touching the keyboard, to open and close valves. He's a manager at Ontario Power Generation, a nuclear plant on the outskirts of Toronto.

This guy can do it if he's wearing a device strapped to his arm that measures the ebb and flow of brain activity. The device, called the "BodyWave" is an iPod-size tool with three sensors that touch the skin and detect levels of neurotransmission -- ALPHA waves (your aware-but-relaxed waves), DELTA sleep waves, THETA, daydreaming waves, and BETA, your brain processes.

Alpha, Delta, Theta --the Greek terms turned me off. But by measuring these three waves and your brain processes, the BodyWave device can determine when your concentration has peaked, and you are primed to make an important, split-second decision -- for instance --when to use the scalpel during an operation, when to make a stock trade, when to putt on the 18th green.

I have to admit, I'm enthralled by the idea that the mind can do this. If people praying -- if prayer could make a difference ...? Is science on its way to proving that prayer can make a difference?

Apparently measuring brain waves has already been used at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for training pilots operating supersonic planes. At NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) it's being used for training the crew in a pit, so that tire-changers, by focusing, will be able to remove five lug nuts in one second.

Measuring your focus is known as EEG. (Electroencephalography). When you get red-faced because you're embarrassed, it's a moment of intense concentration. Sensors can register it.

The electrical charges that occur in your brain when you're concentrating on something, means neurons are firing in synchrony. It produces a unique electrical signature that can be measured. When you stop concentrating, the synchrony breaks and the signature changes.

(So it's like the famous s "Rockettes" in a line kicking one leg--if one of them didn't get her leg up in unison with the others --wow, you'd notice it instantly).

It isn't terribly complicated. The Body Wave measures when the neurons change from synchrony. The device is plugged into a USB port; the computer can say if you are focused or
thinking about what to do on the weekend.

It would be great to know when you are concentrating, and when you are drifting, but, at present, the BodyWave has a flaw --it transmits data to a computer screen that shows if you're falling asleep, but there's no sound, or light signal that warns you to stop before you do something stupid. The inventor of the device, Mr. Freer, is a tinkerer and he's still tinkering, certain he can fix this problem.

Concentration -- how long I can sustain a thought -- golly, standing on one leg with a powerful spot light on you -- it takes huge concentration. Working on this post for my blog, my stomach's rumbling -- I notice a hangnail, look at the clock -- yep -- my mind's wandering -- I'm wondering what this post will mean to my readers.

"Stop!" I yell at myself, but I've been working for a couple hours. I know from novel writing, that I can concentrate intensely for about 30 minutes. I know that on a stage, dancing Mahler's Fifth Symphony, I concentrated for an hour. But novel writing and performing are things I've practiced for years. If I was attached to a device measuring my synchrony, right now, I bet it would tell me, "Enough said -- you're done, post this on your blog for readers to chew."

Is the BodyWave something you or I would want to buy? If we practiced, could we become a super concentrated person? (An "Avatar" is the term used in this video clip.)

Click and see what Freer's company says about it.


Kaye Francis said...

"Dum da dum dum dummmmm" ~ while in 'awe' of sci-fi or psy-fi or whatever-fi...I find my self really 'dumb' about this technology.
* * *
But first EM, let me tell you the particular artwork sketch you made to go with this blog post, needs to be painted on canvas & put on a wall...I really love this one!
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While I don't 'clearly see'...I feel there are positive applications to this kind of tech. However, my cynical psyche tells me that as it further evolves, it is ripe for takeover by the military & national security & therefore will be no longer available to the public at large. Boom ~ disappeared from view, just like that! Even at that cynical opinion that I don't like myself so much for having, the evolved applications of this technology could save some soliders' lives.
* * *
Next thoughts are oh should this technology evolve & work well, how skeered I would be if in fact actual psychopaths or socialpaths figured out how to use it for their own nefarious reasons. That make a hey of a novel that I'm so not smart enough to write.
* * *
Thirdly, how it wrapped around what was it the arm or the leg (whatever)it reminded me of the 'ankle monitor' used to keep track of criminals kept at home these days...I wondered if this tech could be applied, if a criminal's mind went to that criminal behavior place & body wave sent out an alarm to a monitoring place & they could send a 'zap outta it' back? Would that be considered 'cruel & unusual' punishment or a true form or re-wiring the criminal mind for rehabilitation? This also would make a great novel that I'm not smart enough to write.
* * *
My fourth inclination was to just blatantly give a cry out, a shout as to "Wow,this could take transcendental meditation & cognitive therapy to a whole new level or already has."
* * *
Remember that phrase "Far out!" ~ uh maybe 'far out' has now arrived. Much love to you & JC! I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

Carola said...

I would like to concentrate better, but I wouldn't like to do it by technology (Body Wave). Concentration skills must be related somehow to meditation skills.

Anonymous said...

Amazing what science and technology can do now!I wonder if this device might help disabled and stroke victims improve their concentration levels? I would love to try one but i bet they are costly still. Thanks for sharing-very interesting! kam

Maureen Jacobs said...

We need to find a device that tells us what the politicians are really thinking when they give us their speel.

I would love to have one of those devices, however, I can see my stress level elevating every time I am "off track.". I would rather just go along in whatever state I am as I truly believe ignorance is bliss. Lol

Regardless, I already over analyze everything from thoughts, to emotions, to sensations, and even the simplist of tasks. Add one thing for me to over analyze, my head may explode.

Ameer S. Washington said...

Not so sure I want to find out. I feel like with all the advances in technology we move further away from our true humanity. Or maybe, we're moving toward a different type of human(ity). Sounds like something cool that someone'll spend a lot of money on.

Anonymous said...

I'm catching up on your blogs, this one is fantastic, love it! Remember when we saw science-fiction movies and doors would open like magic and than one day they actually did open but it wasn't magic it was technology catching up with science fiction? Facebook, is a technology and it opens up a different type of humanity where you share and enjoy peoples ideas and concerns that you never meet and I think that's fabulous and enlarges our world to reach out. Love and Hugs, xxxxooo Heather