September 21, 2013

Covert operations: Your brain digitally remastered for clarity of thought

Neurofeedback can enhance the signal-to-noise ratio in thought, enabling a sharper focus on tasks—and a better understanding of brain-computer interfaces.

The sweep of a needle across the grooves of a worn vinyl record carries distinct sounds: hisses, scratches, even the echo of skips. For many years, though, those yearning to hear Frank Sinatra sing “Fly Me to the Moon” have been able to listen to his light baritone with technical clarity, courtesy of the increased signal-to-noise ratio of digital remasterings.

Now, with advances in neurofeedback techniques, the signal-to-noise ratio of the brain activity underlying our thoughts can be remastered as well, according to the recent discovery of a research team led by Stephen LaConte, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.