Magnets Capable of Brain Hacks

It has been recently discovered that all of the snap decisions that your brain makes on which hand to use to do simple tasks, such as picking up an object from a table, can now be automatically decided for you.  This is done using magnetic stimulation that is applied using transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.  This TMS will affect the brains ability to process motor movements and reduces the chances that the right hand will be chosen over the left.  This major discovery was found by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) who hopes to use this later on for rehabilitating stroke victims, making them using the limbs that may suffer from the event.  Here is to hoping that an in home product will be released in the future so children can become ambidextrous in everything they do.   It seems like that is a way off but it does seem more natural than most hacks to your body.

Via [iO9]

Comments

  1. Wolfton says:

    Magnetic Mind Control?

  2. EFH says:

    It wasn’t “found by” PNAS — it was reported in PNAS, which is an academic journal.

  3. dusty mclain says:

    mind un-control

  4. Larry says:

    I am ambidextrous, e.g I wear my watch on the right hand, am mainly right handed now though.
    But this came with what is called dislexia, when you write your b’s like d’s and visa versa, also when I used to draw a circle, one time it would go around clockwise the other the anticlockwise. This different type of learning made me struggle at school, so unless everyone and every school adapts, it will be a pain! As for stroke victims, it will be great!

  5. the_dude says:

    this is the most poorly written hackaday post I’ve ever read.

    “It has been recently discovered that all of the snap decisions that your brain makes on which hand to use to do simple tasks, such as picking up an object from a table, can now be automatically decided for you.”

    “This is done using magnetic stimulation that is applied…”

    plz get your learn on.

  6. emilio says:

    TMS has been around for a while.

    it is also VERY experimental and many mechanisms are not understood. this summary does not actually say what TMS does: it turns off localized brain activity. yes, that is a very scary thing, and it took scientists years before they’d try it on anyone but themselves.

    yeah, it sounds cool and easy, but DO NOT FUCK AROUND WITH TMS.

    • Torque says:

      If only we could use them to prevent more in depth decisions, like naming your major publication “p-nas” (say it with me…) we could help prevent the Idiocracy prophecy… .(

  7. Kuhltwo says:

    MRI’s make me sleep like a baby. I am left handed by nature, ambidextrous by the public school system.
    I stay away from strong magnets.

  8. Magnets? How do they work?

  9. Torque says:

    Oops

  10. zool says:

    fucking magnets…

  11. PhilKll says:

    Wonder if its more or less effective than Tequila?

  12. Patrick (not the right-wing one) says:

    @zool: “fucking magnets…”

    How do they work?!

  13. andrew says:

    This reminds me a really cool series of studies described by Daniel Wegner in the book “the illusion of conscious will” in which subjects are told to consciously flex their finger at the moment they “decide” to while their brains are being scanned. The experimenters found that a reliable signal appears half-a-second before the subjects experienced their own “will.” In other words, their brains decided when to flex the finger half-a-second before the subjects even knew they were going to do it.

  14. ejonesss says:

    does anyone know if magnetics can cause or trigger a Migraine like condition (classic kapow oval aura and a mild headache)?

  15. Oren Beck says:

    The use of any technology carries risks. From that basic fact we developed concepts of risk evaluation and ethical guidelines for science explorations involving risk to humans. External magnetic fields are not exempt from those “risk ethics” we apply to any other experimental technology usage.

    The history of over or under estimating long term risks dictates a balance between paranoia and reckless endangerment. Which is the “reason” for an ethics review process in cases of potential risk above the trivial.

    Though some folks of the Hacker realms often disdain established rules. So it’s a safe bet that there is self-experimentation going on. Look at the Open EEG lists as an example of “Trivial Risk” self- experimentation :)

    So- if we combine the Open EEG work with magnetic field testing it gets a bit closer to having closed loop monitoring. As most brain work relies on the human communicating their experiential data after the event.

    Think of it as following a lower risk path than those taken by Dr Lilly and Alexander Shulgin.

  16. daenris says:

    @ejonesss

    depends on how strong the magnet is and how targeted it is. People work around 3 or 4 Tesla MRI machines all the time without experiencing ill effects. A 7 Tesla MRI on the other hand can cause nausea in people as they move through the magnetic field.

    TMS is generally a lower magnetic field strength, however it’s localized to a very small region. Incorrect stimulation can cause headaches, scalp pain, or in rare cases even seizures.

  17. fermicirrus says:
  18. Nels says:

    @Greg R. Jacobs
    Might want to start getting your posts proof-read. Everything you write sounds like an English as a second language assignment.

  19. the_steven says:

    @Kuhltwo

    You too huh?
    Many of us also exhibit “mirror writing” with the non-dominant hand.

  20. NatureTM says:

    looking forward to the magnet-helmet hack

  21. madhatter says:

    I’m getting pretty close to getting a TMS machine working! I’ll probably let the internet know if I don’t seizure myself to death…. I’M A REAL LIFE MAD SCIENTIST, YOU’LL NEVER GET ME! BWAhahahahhh ah ha ha ha

  22. Renee says:

    @ Andrew

    All that realistically proves is that we need better means of measuring the brain. I mean that kinda negates free will if your brain is doing something that involves choice before you think about it. The question being, where did the choice originate from?

    You can’t simply trace consciousness like a circuit.

    Daniel Dennett has a pretty reasonable theory of why experiments like that produce that sort of response. It’s called the “multiple drafts theory of consciousness.”

    In short, at any given time in your brain there can be multiple mental representations going on, all at various stages of revision, buffering or moving to other parts of the brain.

    When you go to perform a test like the one you mentioned all that’s really doing is taking a local measurement of whatever happened to be in the brain at that time and not the full scope of ones own consciousness.

  23. andar_b says:

    Not to mention the fact that there is response time involved. There is a rather strong likelihood that the time it took to process ‘decision=finger move’ plus ‘move finger’ would account for half a second -.-

  24. Renee says:

    Not to say that the experiments are bunk or anything. They do prove a good point that inner perception about what your motivations are and the decisions and actions you make aren’t always the same.

    It’s not like you sit back in your head and have full domain over everything. That’s actually part of what the article above is about.

    Another good example is when someone asks you something and you say “what” as if you didn’t hear them, and then pause to form your answer because you did realize you did hear them.

    The “what” decision was a more simple one to make, hence it arrived at a behavior first, while the harder work of interpreting what was said rides just behind it.

    The Multiple drafts theory is just like real drafts. An author can have a first draft, the publisher can have revisions and the author can also have revisions to that revision. So at any given time there can be multiple versions of the same thing.

    The problem comes when you only focus on say the Publish, the author or the book seller and say “this is where consciousness is!” Because you would be excluding the other valid drafts.

  25. loonquawl says:

    D’Arsonval did TMS ~100 years ago. What is new is the ‘localized’ (~10cm3)effect, possible through good capacitors and computer-designed coils. Although TMS is now present in every major neurological facility, it stil is scarcely understood. There is, for instance rTMS (repetetive TMS) that features repetitive bursts in repetitive cycles, where any change in the triad of influences (direction, frequency of bursts, timing of burst-sessions) brings an unforseeable shift in the results (activation, deactivation, null) for the location concerned, and every location is different.
    The effects are rather subtle, too, as the usual field strengths used are 80% motor threshold, meaning the field is applied in a motor area of the brain, field is increased until slight twitching is visible, then field is decreased to 80%. This is to counter the effects of varying skull-thickness.
    What d’Arsonval did was stand inside a huge coil and have an assistant hit the switch. Uncontrolled field strengths but reportedly impressive auras resulted.
    To answer the question about Migraine and TMS: Important is how fast the magnetic field _changes_, not how big it is in absolute terms. The changing of the field induces small currents that interact with the natural electric goings-on of the brain. No change no induced currents. That is why walking besides an (offline) MRI only makes dizzy at high fields – the only change in field is through the walking. Online MRIs change their fields rapidly, thus inducing currents, and sometimes effecting perceptions like ‘tingling’.
    Effect on migraine: TMS might start one, and might stop one. Stopping one is more likely, though. Still, migraine patients, epileptics, and a host of other people are usually barred from participating in ‘just for science’ TMS&MRI.

  26. Brainguy says:

    I Actually get to work with TMS in our prestigious lab =) it’s truly amazing.. A tad dangerous to build in your home though(Small chance of seizure due to repetitive pulses, about 16 cases in 20 years of research(before safety regulations became available))
    It’s very cool, ask me anything, TMS is my favourite subject =)

  27. RadBrad says:

    There is another similar experiment that can be found by searching for “God Helmet”. Cool stuff!

  28. Lex says:

    As my physiscs teacher said in a lesson about electromagnets

    “dont muck around with big magnets cos you might accidentally erase your brain and then be unable to tell anyone about your discovery”

  29. tomas says:

    @brainguy:
    asking you anything :)

    – how do the EM fields compare to those of, um, my cell phone at full broadcasting power?
    – in rTMS, do you commonly use complex signals or just simple square waves?
    – do you have any means of moving the coils in space during operation in a repeatable fashion?
    – did you try/consider rotating the field like persinger does, by alternating between a few coils?
    – does your lab have a webpage/blog?

    thanks

  30. Brainguy says:

    @Tomas

    Q: how do the EM fields compare to those of, um, my cell phone at full broadcasting power?
    A: Not. The current in your brain is achieved by a sharp rise and fall of magneticity (0 – +/-3,5 tesla – 0)Following Faraday’s law of magnetic induction. The electromagnetic field of your cellphone is due to radiosignals.

    Q: in rTMS, do you commonly use complex signals or just simple square waves?
    A: Repetitive pulses are usually at a set frequency, it would be easy to do a complex signal, but results would be hard to interpret.

    Q: do you have any means of moving the coils in space during operation in a repeatable fashion?
    A: I Haven’t heard of robot-arms delivering TMS, the placing usually stays the same during stimulation or only replacing once or twice.

    Q:did you try/consider rotating the field like persinger does, by alternating between a few coils?
    A: Not exactly sure what you mean here, but the field can be created by two-coils (single butterfly coil), pinpointing it to allow for deeper stimulation.

    Q: does your lab have a webpage/blog?
    A: No, but we do have a bunch of publications in scientific journals (it’s a University Lab).

  31. tomas says:

    thanks.
    what i meant by rotating the field reffered to research done by guys like Persinger who used permanent magnets on a rotating platform instead of EM fields and got interesting results.
    BTW from what i read, in my country most of commercial TMS research is for use in treating depression. electronic drugs anyone?

  32. CogScientist says:

    @brainguy
    I worked with TMS on humans too and even built a little single-pulse prototype model for instructional purposes in order to show the differences between the coils (single vs butterfly / Magstim vs. Medtronic) (I’m not the only cogn. neuroscientist in our lab with some rudimentary practical electronic skills, though.)

    Persingers research is not really well known in the TMS community, but you might want to consider looking it up. I discussed this matter with my professors: It is plausible that the activity of networks can be altered by using small magnetic fields and longer repetitions, but you’d have to be quite accurate in placing the coils.

    BUT: TMS is very ‘messy’ and all TMS research and applications draws heavily on knowledge about the organization of the networks you are messing with: Don’t think you can just hold this thing to your ‘xxx’ area and improve your ‘xxx’ ability. It’s WAY more complicated than that.

  33. CogScientist says:

    and of course, my last comment wasn’t directed at brainguy, because as every brain scientist, he knows this. …

  34. CogScientist says:

    Oh and by the way: at least in one of the two devices (I think the Medtronic), you can choose whether you use a sinusoidal or a square wave. Normally you’d use a square wave when regulating current, but of course the magnetic field will not follow the exact attack (rising edge) of the square shape as it gradually builds up. Anyway: You want your magnetic field to change as quickly as possible and thus use a current that rises as quickly as possible. A square wave…

  35. ejonesss says:

    daenris i was asking because from spring to fall of 2009 i think i was suffering because starting in the spring i saw a strange disturbance and since i had never had seen it before i thought something was wrong.

    and once every couple days it would happen again.

    then when i saw an episode of mythbusters where they was testing the movie myth of swerving to shake someone off the car and the one mythbuster saw stars.

    i researched seeing stars and came across migraine auras and one was close to what i had seen.

    first i thought weather swings because there was a lot of rainy days then sunny then rainy off and on.

    the lately as of a couple weeks ago i saw a show on mind control on the history channel using sound waves bounced off the upper layers above the earth and begin putting 2 and 2 together.

    maybe some kind of conspiracy going on with mind control or other magnetic waves may have been done during that time frame was causing it.

    this year i had no disturbances

    however i do get headaches that last all day and they feel like eating ice cream too fast but no auras with them.

  36. CogScientist says:

    The idea of a conspiracy using magnetic waves for mind control is absolutely unfounded, not to say naive. Science is lightyears away from something even close to this. (The same goes for mind-reading in rt-fMRI, EEG, whatever…) All we have is experimental data from meticulously controlled laboratory experiments focusing on individual cognitions.

    But actually, visual hallucinations in many forms are quite common in people with migraine or other brain related disorders…

  37. Jackie says:

    I have brain control over you………

  38. CogScientist says:

    yes, in a way you do as you made me seeing and understanding that sentence.
    but that’s pretty lame in comparison to me making you write this initially…

  39. Psyc0bob says:

    thank you providing me with a new blog.

    this one just seams like a copy cat lately…

  40. mixadj says:

    Don’t know if its been done yet but…. bzzt; Jimmy crack corn and I don care; Jimmy crack corn and I don care………….| Sorry but this whole Idea just made me think of that………

  41. Brainguy says:

    @CogScientist
    I checked out the Persinger stuff, all very cool! At first it kinda sparked my bullshit-meter, but there definitely is some hardcore science involved.

    I’m very interested in your homebuilt Coil, thinking of building my own (there is this rumour of stimulating a single location containing 3 coils in Israel, definitely something worth trying, and I would call it a Triforce coil)

  42. Brainguy says:

    Coming to think of it, I know someone who is doing research based on Persinger.

  43. bilbao bob says:

    >The idea of a conspiracy using magnetic waves
    >for mind control is absolutely unfounded, not
    >to say naive.

    Guess that generally depends on your definition of conspiracy. In general, if a) it sounds even vaguely promising for use as a weapon (or these days, even as an effective instrument of torture) and/or b) you can show that it can be considered useful for behaviour modification, I can guarantee that someone already has the research grant in process or it has already been funded by the fringe elements of the artists formerly known as darpa.

    Of course, that’s no more of a conspiracy than any other weapons research. Look at wide-angle Terahertz radar (aka pain fields), already being deployed to select police departments and guard units around the US.

    After all, direct neural stimulation would never, ever be used to torture people, even if it were incredibly effective. I mean, it’s neuroscience!

    I can also guarantee that the minute we discover how to build a more convincing polygraph machine using our new knowledge of how the brain works, we won’t do it.

    And it’s INCONCEIVABLE! that we would start churning out “brain scanners” to be used in detecting witches, or drug dealers, or pedophiles, or terrorists, or those annoying NWO foot draggers – you know, whatever the boogeyman du jour is.

    Mostly because it’s impossible to go from giant MRI sized systems to small portable units. It’s not like we ever managed to convert building sized computers into ipads, is it?

    So I have to agree with CogScientist on this one. It’s just laughable, especially right now.

    All of that aside, the persecuted tin foil hat crowd is not a new phenomenon. There are several well documented accounts of letters from disturbed british citizens complaining about mind control.

    One guy petitioned for relief, complaining that he was being molested and controlled secretly by his majesty’s government using the newest and most hyped technology of the day, the pneumatic pump (featured in the mid 1700s equivalent of wired magazine, the newspaper) being touted as the solution to solving infrastructure problems throughout the kingdom.

    People tend to describe their experiences in terms of their world view, and I’m guessing that this can be traced back to concept of being posessed by demons, and certainly it was not new at that time.

    I suspect that the complaints by ejonesss and the thousands of “putting 2+2 together” folks like him are the result of the incredible variability in how we’re constructed. Physiology is more of a theme than a specification. We vastly underestimate how good nature is at getting the most marginal of designs to function and reproduce… and that tendancy towards mutation is a very good thing.

    Finally, if we examine the mechanisms for “deja vu” and other somewhat understood common failures/quirks in how we remember, perceive and react to our surroundings, it’s not unlikely that some people are affected by magnetic fields or other phenomena. Luckily (or not), most of us just don’t get to experience these things.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go add several layers of mu metal shielding to my tin foil hat.

  44. bilbao bob says:

    So I have to agree with CogScientist on this one. It’s just laughable, especially right now.

    All of that aside, the persecuted tin foil hat crowd is not a new phenomenon. There are several well documented accounts of letters from disturbed british citizens complaining about mind control.

    One guy petitioned for relief, complaining that he was being molested and controlled secretly by his majesty’s government using the newest and most hyped technology of the day, the pneumatic pump (featured in the mid 1700s equivalent of wired magazine, the newspaper) being touted as the solution to solving infrastructure problems throughout the kingdom.

    People tend to describe their experiences in terms of their world view, and I’m guessing that this can be traced back to concept of being posessed by demons, and certainly it was not new at that time.

    I suspect that the complaints by ejonesss and the thousands of “putting 2+2 together” folks like him are the result of the incredible variability in how we’re constructed. Physiology is more of a theme than a specification. We vastly underestimate how good nature is at getting the most marginal of designs to function and reproduce… and that tendancy towards mutation is a very good thing.

    Finally, if we examine the mechanisms for “deja vu” and other somewhat understood common failures/quirks in how we remember, perceive and react to our surroundings, it’s not unlikely that some people are affected by magnetic fields or other phenomena. Luckily (or not), most of us just don’t get to experience these things.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go add several layers of mu metal shielding to my tin foil hat.

  45. steve says:

    am i the only one who pronounces it “P” “NAS” :P

  46. Jack says:

    All these wasted years in medical science were good for nothing. What makes difference in your brain is feeding it with drugs and alcohol nothing else. If they would make a brainhack that people who are not so good in math and logic would become better I would pay for that for sure. But since they aint have nothing I just spend this lifetime with drinking then blow my brains out :(

  47. bilbao bob says:

    @jack

    Most people don’t understand the long-term effects of drinking on the way the brain works. It’s not that different from the effect of smoking on the longs. You can smoke a cigarette once or thrice a year and not accumulate long term damage. You cannot do it a few times a week or more and not expect long term damage.

    Drugs are a different story (well, actually the same story) but I’d think it was obvious that any kind of substance that creates an “altered state” will do so by affecting the chemistry of your brain. Same for Alcohol, or worse yet, being smitten in love and dumping all manner of low-level insanity causing hormones into your blood stream. I’d rather try to reason with a junkie than a 17 year old in love…

    Anyway, you know the drill: Lots of Vitamin C, some bright sunshine, a little exercise and a gun. I’ve seen it reverse the effects of years of solder-fume inhalation and depression brought on by weeks of solitary hacking more than once, and it even gave one young man a chance to leave electronics and become a very happy park ranger with a very attractive wife who was fun to be around if you didn’t care about logic and math.

    Now get out there and live a little, and stop worrying about math and logic. After all, math and logic never got anyone laid – with the sole exception of Dick Feynman – and that even includes Charles Babbage and Grace Hopper!

    PS – Good luck with the dopamine replacement.

  48. steeve says:

    This is a completely stupid post. First, TMS has been around for decades now. It is not new at ALL. Second of all, they use not magnets buts COILS. They are pulsed with a high current for very short time, generating quick rising magnetic fields, because what matters is dB/dt, the change in magnetic field over time, not the magnetic field strength itself. You can be sitting inside 7 Tesla and not even notice. Only when you move your head quickly you will feel dizzy. However, as I said, these TMS devices make use of really high powered components, nothing you could do at home with a photo flash capacitor.

  49. nak says:

    If anyone who thinks they’re smart about TMS devices and wouldn’t mind spying/giving constructive criticism on an attempt at home brewing a monophasic TMS machine, please email me: uberscientist[at]gmail.com
    Thanks

  50. Orgone says:

    TMS is a very promising technology to help heal brain injuries. I suspect that TMS devices are easy to build and probably, they are not dangerous when used intelligently.

    That could be an interesting hack.

    This story reminds me of another I heard a while ago.

    A few years ago neuroscientists were able to implant electrodes in a cat’s brain to allow them to remote control its movements while it was walking. However, to do that required brain surgery.

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