Friday, September 25, 2009

Seeing numbers

Yahoo's Live Science just posted an article about scientists using brain imaging to see the neural representation of numbers and patterns of dots in people's brains. I added a comment in the "Buzz Log" about why this could be a really big moment in science, and so I'm copying that here:

This is very, very cool, and could be seen as a breakthrough in cognitive science. The way most psychology works as of today is that the scientist thinks of a pattern that fits data, and then we guess that something like that pattern is what's actually in our minds. But this is because we've had no direct way to see what the mind was doing. We could only see general areas in use before with brain imaging. However, if they can truly see the way the brain is representing certain objects, then that could let us study how those objects are manipulated by the brain, which then let's us stop guessing about the mind and start observing how thought works.

Super cool!!!


writtenwyrdd said...

That is super cool. I'm going to link to this post on my blog because its' something writers of spec fic can certainly use as idea fodder!

The question that comes to mind for me is: Once the way the mind represents letters/numbers/etc is determined, will they be able to see how different minds see things differently and thus differentiate between "thought styles" or "mental types"? That sort of thing could be both good and bad due to pigenholing people or enabling mentally-handicapped/ differently-abled such as autistic/Asberger's, ADD, psychotic/mentally ill patients to learn how to better function in society.

Ello said...

very interesting. I find the brain so fascinating. Are we getting closer to unlocking our abilities with the advent of these types of imaging? It's all amazing stuff to me.

Courtney said...

the other questions to ask are : are we ready for this? are we suppossed to know an anwser like this?

Robin S. said...

To see thoughts being formed would be a beautiful thing!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Very fascinating. I find the idea that different numbers do not show as much distinction as different numbers of dots needs more delving into. I wonder is it the number of the dots or their arrangement? Is that part of the brain firing because it's pattern making and not because it's counting dots?

I think we're getting somewhere, but there are other things to consider.

Like if someone holds up a cup of tea and says a word in another language - is that the word for tea, cup, hot, drink, etc. There's more to be revealed.