Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Medicine Science Technology

Predicting Human Errors From Brain Activity 123

Hugh Pickens writes "Researchers report that brain activity can be used to predict the likelihood of someone making an error about six seconds in advance, with gradual changes starting as much as 30 seconds ahead of time. The team used an imaging machine to scan the brains of a group of volunteers who performed a task in the presence of distracting information. When performing correctly the volunteers' brains showed increased levels of activity in those parts associated with cognitive effort, as would be expected. However, these areas gradually became less active before errors were made and at the same time another set of regions in the brain became more active. These regions are part of a so-called "default mode network" and show increased use when people are resting or asleep [PDF]. While imaging machines are far too big and complex to be used in workplaces to monitor the brain activity of people engaged in important tasks, the team hopes to correlate errors to changes in electrical activity in the brain with electroencephalography (EEG), using electrodes placed on the scalp. If EEG features can be found that correspond to the change in brain activity, then a hat that gives warning of an imminent mistake might one day become reality. We've previously discussed similar studies of brain activity."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Predicting Human Errors From Brain Activity

Comments Filter:
  • I don't believe it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:06PM (#23193138)
    I've seen some stupid research in my time, but actually believing you can predict errors in advance is like saying you can predict which leaf will fall off of a tree in the next 6 seconds.
    • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

      by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:08PM (#23193168)
      The parent post makes a very good point. I agree with him wholeheartedly. You may be able to predict actions, but how can you predict whether an action will be an error?

      Mod parent up!
      • Re:I agree (Score:5, Funny)

        by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:11PM (#23193186) Homepage Journal
        Like the error of forgetting to click "Post Anonymously" when making a post agreeing with yourself.
      • Re:I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

        by GeffDE ( 712146 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:24PM (#23193300)
        Parent makes sense intuitively, but there are parts of the brain that are very sensitive to conflict; the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is one of these.

        If you have ever take part of a Stroop test, your ACC has been activated. In a Stroop test, the word for a color is printed in a different color i.e. the word green is shown in the color red. A participant is asked to say either the word or the color. As the speed of doing these discriminations increases, so do errors; interestingly, cognizance of errors is nearly instantaneous, however. You know that you made an error, even before the neural circuitry committed to speaking the words has finished forming the words.

        The ACC becomes more active in Stroop tests because Stroop tests cause conflicts in two neural circuits. The ACC arbitrates these circuits. Therefore, an increase in ACC activity (which will happen in advance of the error occurring) correlates with an increase in likelihood of mistakes...more in-depth research and some algorithms (I haven't RTFA) means that an error can be predicted, but of course, not with 100% success.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I hate pdfs, so here is a screencap of the brain imaging picture from the pdf:

        • Re:I agree (Score:4, Funny)

          by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:40PM (#23193442) Homepage

          Therefore, an increase in ACC activity (which will happen in advance of the error occurring) correlates with an increase in likelihood of mistakes.
          I get distracted and make mistakes when I'm watching basketball games too.
          • by GeffDE ( 712146 )
            Who cares about ACC games? The only games I care about are Big 10...

            That said, I vote for an increase of TLAs ;-)
        • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @12:34AM (#23194106) Homepage Journal
          As someone who has taken too many of these tests, the problem ends up being your mind gets bored with the whole exercise withing minutes... these test take hours. After about 10 minutes at MOST, your brain starts to wander. You can NOT focus on the test no matter how much mental effort you put into these. It simulates situations like driving a car where actions and attention become so repetitive that there is an autopilot mode that kicks in. Bit in the same regard it can't be applied logically to situations like being in a boxing ring, because in those circumstances your brain is constantly adjusting to vectors that can't possibly be predicted, therefor always being up to paying attention at the task at hand.
          • by GeffDE ( 712146 )
            Yeah, /. does the same thing for me...

            But seriously, the effect is still there in those first 10 minutes. Any psychological test that lasts an hour (and they all do, or at least seem to, anyway) really fatigues your mind. I haven't read any psychology papers, and I don't know if psychologists correct for this in their data analysis but they definitely should.
        • LOG STARTS<br>
          24-04-2008 22:20<br>

          Parent makes

          22:21 | ACC activity increase detected | Signal seq #1

          sense intuitively, but there are parts of the brain that are very sensitive to conflict; the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is one of these.

          If you have ever take

          22:22 | Subject commits error | Signal #1 confirmed

          part of a Stroop test, your ACC has been activated. In a Stroop test...

        • Those are not errors you're talking about. You're talking about internal conflicts within the subject.

          It's true that in some trivial cases errors are easy to identify by a person making them, but, well, those are trivial cases, like errors in psychological experiments about colours.

          It's impossible to predict errors, because errors don't even exist (conceptually) until some formal framework for judging an action has been defined. So to predict that person X has made an error implies that person Y's judge

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by GeffDE ( 712146 )
            But there are some subset of errors that are known to be errors when they are performed. Your analysis is for a certain type of error that, realistically, can't be predicted. So why bother. Here's the usage scenario for this type of "error" prediction...

            You are using a computer, and you are presented with a dialog to either delete a file or cancel the dialog. You do not want to delete the file, but you click the delete button anyway. In your brain, before your finger clicks the mouse button (because
            • The computer example is interesting, because we also have many examples of "do what I mean, not what I say" in software. Things like correcting the spelling of words on the fly cause more trouble than they are worth.

              It's unlikely that a computer system which monitors the brain and prevents you from deleting a file is actually an improvement, there are too many counterexamples.

              Think of a secretary who is ordered to delete a file, but deep down doesn't want to do so. The computer monitoring her brain woul

              • by GeffDE ( 712146 )
                The part of the brain that doesn't want to delete the file would be different than the part of the brain that goes "OH SHIT! I didn't want to do that." Just like I said before: there errors here are a subset. The ACC does not activate in the instance of internal conflict; it activates when two cognitive circuits are competing and offering two different answers. I was not ever talking about internal conflicts (i.e. having conflicting desires, duties etc). I was talking about internal cognitive processes
                • The ACC does not activate in the instance of internal conflict; it activates when two cognitive circuits are competing and offering two different answers.

                  Yes, that's a conflict. Two cognitive circuits which don't agree. It's not an indicator of error. Error is a meaningless word without a scale for judging it, and simply cannot be predicted from observing a brain pattern in vacuo.

                  I was not ever talking about internal conflicts (i.e. having conflicting desires, duties etc).

                  Fair point, my ge

                  • by GeffDE ( 712146 )
                    Cognitive circuits are not emotions! Conflicting emotions, which is what you are talking about, do NOT trigger the ACC. Additionally, the ACC is not the only center involved. I have tried to set this notion of your to rights three times. You're out.
        • A "Stroop test"? C'mon, you made that up. Next you'll be telling us that David Duchovny named his kid "Kyd" [].
        • A hat which warns "ERROR ALERT" when you are starting to get distracted might do more harm than good!
      • This almost seems like common sense to me.
        I mean wouldn't your cognitive activity decrease right before you make an error?
        I don't know about everyone else but that is when I make my errors - immediately after becoming distracted.
        Did we really need a research study for this?

        Although perhaps they could use a large amount of this data to build a prediction model that could predict a possibility of an error sometime in advance. But I still question the usefulness of such a prediction.
      • I think it just predicts a lack of concentration. Though funnily enough, the times when I screw up in Guitar Hero are the times when I start thinking too much about what my fingers are doing instead of letting them get on with it, and then I panic when I realise how crazy it is trying to do 20 hammer ons in a row precisely (The Metal on Expert is crazy.. completed it twice now though in the last couple of days :) ).. it's a similar situation on a real guitar.. a song can be in muscle memory, but I can't al
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Narpak ( 961733 )
      The point as I understand it is that the machine notes when there is a drop in activity in the part of the brain responsible for whatever action you are preforming. A drop in brain activity increases the Likelihood of an error, but it does not say exactly when or how; just that the subject is no longer fully focused on the task and therefor errors will occur.
    • If you're falling asleep on the road, you're more likely to make the error of driving to one side. Similarly, if you're getting distracted by a stray thought, your concentration can suffer and are more likely to make errors in your primary task. You may not predict the exact error, but you can reasonably forecast an increased probability of error.

      Why else would car insurance rates rise when you get into an accident? Um... you know, aside from evil insurance companies?
      • by umghhh ( 965931 )
        so solution to this is not to have primary task in the first place, just relax and drink another one - you cannot make a mistake there, can you?
    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:39PM (#23193420) Homepage
      I don't know. This research is more like predicting whether leaves will fall in six seconds... when it can tell a big breeze is six seconds away.

      From TFS, it sounds like people are getting distracted and bored doing stupid mind-numbing tasks and when they do so, they make errors. As such, they have invented a bulky and expensive way to tell when you're drifting off (and that is fairly well correlated with making errors.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evanbd ( 210358 )
        Exactly. The problem with getting bored / distracted isn't so much that you make errors, but that you don't usually notice until after you start making mistakes -- but the distraction is already clearly present, and I see no reason it shouldn't be detectable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oodaloop ( 1229816 )
        We've already shown that people typically DECIDE something like a second prior to when they THINK they decide. Matching up brain activity to verbal responses as to when a subject said he/she made a decision reveals the brain activity associated with making said decision occurs BEFORE they were consciously aware of it.

        If some specific mental machinery leading up to that were to be shown to lead to errors, it seems plausible that errors could be predicted.
    • I don't know about that... I can predict errors in some limited domains:

      My wife starting the weed whacker... error inbound!
      My daughter drinking... error inbound!

      I can predict those types of errors well in advance of seconds... geez, that's not rocket science at all.
    • This may or may not be stupid research, but it's far from implausible. Despite the sensational headline and the fact that the authors got their article in a good place, this kind of thing (brain activity predicting future behavior) is commonplace in functional brain imaging. I'm not saying your "I don't believe it" critique isn't well thought out, but perhaps you would like to be a little more specific about where you think the authors have gone wrong.

      As an aside, I don't know much about trees and leaves,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by venicebeach ( 702856 )
      Basically this particular task (the "flankers task") is so easy that people only make errors when they stop paying attention. You see something like SSSHHSSS or HHHSSHHH and you have to respond to the central letters while filtering out the outside letters. So what is essentially happening is they are measuring when people's attention wanes and errors happen to be reliably associated with this.

      Keep in mind that in this study errors are not actually predicted before they happen in real time. That's vi
    • I think the research shows more when you are being focused or careless in your work. Being focused reduces errors being careless creates more errors.
    • Predicting errors is easy. I can predict that certain anonymous coworkers of mine will make errors because they simply always make the same errors. If you see someone driving 100mph and a 30mph curve approaching, you can predict that may result in an error. Predicting which leaf may fall off a tree is easy if you have a detailed enough picture of how the leaves connect... this isn't a way to prevent the error, just to predict it. Preventing the error before it happens in the brain would be a much bigger
    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      That depends on what an "error" means. I bet several people would loved to have at least a 6 second in advance notification to avoid saying: "I do".
    • It seems to me like this technology is basically detecting when a person stops paying complete attention to what they are doing. It's hardly a huge leap to assume that a person who is not paying attention, is more likely to make a mistake.
  • So much for reading slashdot from work. It was nice knowing you guys.
  • by tg2k ( 895772 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:13PM (#23193206)
    Given what it's supposed to tell about people, let me be the first to dub this device "the asshat".

    And I certainly hope it never hits the market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I want one when talking to women.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ox0065 ( 1085977 )
      or maybe the con-dome
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *
      Dammit you beat me to it!

      Great Name.

      I was going to say you would need to take the hat off to install Vista cuz of the noise, but THAT would be just begging for +FLAMEBAIT wouldn't it? :P

      I also wonder if the hat will know you will make the mistake of ignoring it's warning. Kind of like an infinite loop of stupidity?

      P.S - To the MS Fans, i'm just kidding about Vista. Loosen up a bit :)
  • an idea... (Score:5, Funny)

    by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:15PM (#23193220) Homepage Journal
    Will they ever be able to make a hat that lets slashdot users know if they will be modded '+1 funny' vs '-1 flamebait?' 6 seconds before clicking 'submit?'
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dfm3 ( 830843 )
      Yes. In fact, I knew that this comment would be modded up, so I just had to post it. *crosses fingers*
    • You can guarantee your +1/-1 modifiers with my new system - HMPAPA - (Have mod points and posting anonymously)
    • Sure. It has a sign attached, which hangs in your line of sight, and has scores:

      Linux + "good": +2
      Linux + "sucks": -2
      Windows: -2
      Complicated argument: -4
      Women: +5, funny
      Women + Geek lack of sex: +5 insightful
  • So their research found that you don't make errors when you are paying attention but when you aren't you do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amRadioHed ( 463061 )
      It sounds to me that the key finding is that they can detect when a person is distracted by monitoring their brain waves. A much more interesting finding than that distracted people make errors.
  • Small, portable EEG monitors are already available. Indeed, they have even been incorporated into baseball caps. A lightweight head device is also being developed for people to interact mentally with computer games. So, if EEG features can be found that correspond to the change in brain activity which the researchers have observed, then a hat that gives warning of an imminent mistake might one day become reality.

    I think that if this becomes more realistic, and employers get a hold of this then they would be able to screen applicants for their prone-ness to mistakes (sorry english is not my first language :/)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by billcopc ( 196330 )
      I can make an EEG monitor that IS a baseball cap. By carefully measuring the angle of the visor relative to the wearer's head, as well as a few environmental factors such as precipitation, temperature and altitude, I can identify half-bred imbeciles with shocking accuracy.

      I can also tell with 100% certainty that a person wearing a ballcap will make a mistake. That mistake is asking me to fix their computer.
    • PHB: "Programmer #1001011001, you were coding without your ECC-Helm plugged into your USB4 port."

      Jake: "My name is Jake; I'm a human being, not RAM. Those things don't work anyway; they just buzz when your mind gets creative."

      "You are hereby terminated. All your code is scrapped, and you will never code anywhere on the internet again. You've been branded as a No-hat."

      "WTF? You're making the biggest mistake of your life!"

      "Who's wearing the ECC-Helm here?"

  • Errors? (Score:2, Insightful)

    My question is this: Will the knowledge that an error will occur cause the person in question to be even -more- likely to cause an error? Belief can be a dangerous thing in this case:
    "You're gonna make an error."
    *user has minor panic, nervousness, etc*
    "See? You errored. You suck."

    Makes me wonder if it would self-perpetuate if it were a self-monitored system rather than an externally monitored one - and once externally monitored, would the reaction time be sufficent to prevent the error? Sounds like some sli
    • Re:Errors? (Score:4, Informative)

      by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:50PM (#23193496)
      The device actually predicts when you are not concentrating on your work, and that is what people would be told if they ever were to use such a thing in production. I think the notice that you are losing concentration would probably be enough to get you concentrating again on your work. Especially if the workers were penalized for time spent not concentrating.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bill Dog ( 726542 )
        But it would be hard to concentrate if I was constantly worrying about losing concentration and being startled at any moment by a machine yelling "CONCENTRATE!!!!!!!!!!" at me.
        • I don't know, that's not how my mind works. I can concentrate just fine when I have too. YMMV.
        • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )

          [...] and being startled at any moment by a machine yelling "CONCENTRATE!!!!!!!!!!" at me.

          Cue image of George's dad in my head, screaming "SERENITY NOW!!!!"

      • Especially if the workers were penalized for time spent not concentrating.

        Am I the only one to think that this would be disastrous for the workplace? With the 'I need a job so I put up with X' attitude of most of the low to mid-range earners in the US, can you imagine what would happen?

        Bob, we're going to have to let you go. Now, I know what you're going to say, and yes, you have produced more work units than any other employee this quarter, and they have been of acceptable quality, but you simply weren't paying enough attention.

        Now offering the WorkAlert 2010! This revolutionary 'assistance hat', or 'asshat', can provide your employees with negative feedback (via a small electronic shock) when they doze on the job!

      • I would point out why this is evil, but I'll let wikipedia and history do it for me. []
      • The day I am judged by everyone around me based on what some machine says is going on inside my head, regardless of my outward actions, is the day I make a swift exit from the human race via a bullet to the head. I will not live in such a world.
    • See? You errored. You suck.
      I'm afraid you erred quite atrociously in the spelling of the above. You suck.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )
        It seems only logical that they could predict spelling and grammar errors here with every front page topic. My grammar is awful by the way. My spelling is awful too. But, am I the only one who notes the irony that this is a site about 'geeks' or 'nerds' and way too many of us don't use a spell check?
  • But can it predict (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    when the editors will err and post a dupe []?
    • This is not a dupe. (At least not of the previous one you linked.)

      The old article you linked is about detecting a signature corresponding to an early stage of decision making. This one is about detecting a signature of the brain going into a resting / attention wandering state that causes decisions to be error-prone.
  • Where's all the good research these days? Everyone's sick of bloody brain scans. Give us something new you sons of bitches!!!! Earn those research grants. zzzzzzzz
  • That's good news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:37PM (#23193402) Journal

    While imaging machines are far too big and complex to be used in workplaces to monitor the brain activity of people engaged in important tasks...
    Thank God!
    • by wanax ( 46819 )
      It actually turns out this is relates to fairly important issues. For example a person's ability to detect guns or explosives is inversely correlated with the frequency of the same (data: go look at Wolfe & Horowitz). People perform badly in low frequency testing.

      If there is some relaible way to 'perk them up' for their stint, or wake them up when they're dosing, it'll be a good and cheap way to improve real security.
  • W7 (Score:3, Funny)

    by powermacx ( 887715 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @10:38PM (#23193410)
    "You are about to make a mistake. Cancel or Allow?"
  • Where's my tinfoil hat?

    " If EEG features can be found that correspond to the change in brain activity, then a hat that gives warning of an imminent mistake might one day become reality. "

    Oh crap!
  • ... While imaging machines are far too big and complex to be used in workplaces to monitor the brain activity of people engaged in important tasks ...

    Not necessary. I can verify that our upper management will, when given the opportunity, make entirely the worng decision nine times out of ten. If an opportunity is not present, they'll keep attritting smart, capable people (not that there were a lot around here to begin with) until they create an opportunity. It's called "default mode management".

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:05PM (#23193598) Journal
    The descriptions of "the error-detecting hat" look like the intent is to train the brain to stay alert and not make errors - or to refocus it when it wanders. (DING DING DING! HEY! WAKE UP! PAY ATTENTION!) The hat may be useful, but that use of the feedback may be the wrong approach.

    The signature they're describing corresponds, not just to a lack of alertness, but specifically a lack of alertness because the brain is going into a resting state. Seems to me that might be because all this decision-making has made the working regions of the brain tired and the brain is trying to clear them out so they'll operate properly again. So the problem is not the lack of alertness, but the attempt to continue to make decisions during the resting cycle.

    Given that, a better use of the feedback might be to tell the wearer that it's time to stop making important decisions and take a break, rather than trying to overuse a "mental muscle" that's exhausted - and perhaps train him to recognize the mental state himself so he can then dispense with the hat.

    The "break times" in working days were set up when studies showed that taking breaks, despite the "work time lost", resulted in more and better work in the work time remaining. This looks like a way to optimize the process, rather than running breaks on a clock.
    • Yes, that's very interesting. But will it tell me whether or not I'll be in Griffendor?
    • I agree, my most productive mode when I code is 15min coding/5 min slacking off periods for about 1.5 to 2 hours, then a real 15min pause (walking, drinking some watter and chitchatting) then back to the 15/5 periods for the rest of the morning, and non-coding activities during the aftermoon (usually documenting my code or writing its test plan).

      But there are people who cannot adapt their work schedule to their needs, such as train drivers (they already have to punch a button a couple of time every minutes
    • I think you're onto something. The brain doesn't like to stay in a perpetual state of alertness. It needs a break sometimes, and by golly, it's going to take it eventually. Postponing the break when the brain is already signaling it needs one isn't going to improve the quality of decisions the way taking the break and coming back to the problem with a fresh mind will.
  • brain activity can be used to predict the likelihood of someone making an error about six seconds in advance

          Any way to make this technology mandatory for use on voters just before they cast their ballots so that they don't elect the "wrong" candidate (again)?

          Yes, it was a feeble attempt at humor disguised under a veil of sarcasm. Mods, go to hell.
  • So, since the beginning of humanity itself, the plain old unaided human ear can listen for stomach and intestinal rumblings that come right before, and predict the coming of a big old juicy butt fart.

    Now we can use a portable EEG scanner built into a baseball cap to detect when a brain fart is about to occur.

    Ain't technology wonderful?
  • Over-Reaching a Bit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nemus ( 639101 ) <> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:17PM (#23193674) Journal
    I have to agree with other people who've posted that this is over-reaching a little bit. This is nothing more than a correllational study: all they can say is that these systems, in this particular series of trials, showed increased activity shortly before an error took place.

    The main problem as I see it is that since they can't determine causaltiy, and only conducted this experiment with a small sample population, and with a specific task, is it could have been the task itself causing the particular regions to become active after a certain period of time. I just gave the article a quick look through, but I'd be curious to see if the errors came in distinct, set intervals. It could be simply the nature of the task that caused the activity. Furthermore, what about left handed participants? What about age groups outside of the twenties (which are a particular cohort, and can be expected to have similiar results/activity as such)? It seems like they failed to counterbalance either their participants or their trials in any meaningful way.

    Also, I'm not familiar with this journal or whatever it is, but I've never seen one where the methods section came last, which is a little strange. That's almost always the first thing I go to after the abstract.
  • This doesn't sound like much of an "Error Detection" system, but more of a "Distraction Detection" system.
  • Walking (Score:2, Interesting)

    There are activities that can be handed off to the unconscious mind. If you are doing something so often that it seems like you could do it in your sleep, well, there's no reason not to hand it off to a subprocess and think about more important stuff.

    I think they are detecting abortive hand-off attempts: A training process for a different part of the brain than one's conscious mind. More complex motions or actions require more training. I think what we need isn't more concentration, but more error toleranc
  • I've always found that most of the mistakes that I have seen made or made myself were caused by moments of brain INACTIVITY (e.g. Hey y'all watch this)
  • by monoqlith ( 610041 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @12:27AM (#23194048)
    was wearing an in-house version of this hat before he decided to release Vista. Unfortunately, the hat was running Vista.
  • by Pooua ( 265915 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @12:40AM (#23194132) Homepage
    I've noticed that before I make certain mistakes, or completely forget what I was doing, I will experience a spike in confusion. Sometimes, the ramp up the spike is slow, taking most of an hour; other times, it comes on me suddenly, taking only a minute. I feel confused and doing simple tasks are difficult. Then, it passes. Often, I will have completely forgotten what it was I was attempting to do, until much later when something reminds me.
  • Say you time-traveled with this to the early middle ages. Other than it obviously not working, you can always pull a Merlin and call it a magic hat.
  • How about a machine that does the job correctly FOR ME, instead of a machine that tells me I'm wrong ?

    I thought that's what the wife was for!

    <cfif coldfusion LTE garbage><cfthrow type="chair"></cfif>
  • It seems to me that the device is designed to detect lulls in brain activity in such a manner:

    a. As we think critically on a complex subject our brain works harder, so the system detects this.

    b. While we are day dreaming ('brain-fart', 'writer block', 'brain freeze', 'mind short', etc.) our brain relaxes for a moment, and the system detects this as well.

    c. The study uses sleep as the control, at which it is assumed we are using our brains the least.

    This may not be accurate because:

    a. The test cann
  • I would just love something that will tell me when to take a break or a nap.
  • Scientifically, it seems like a significant discovery. I'm far more worried about how it is used.

    Tonight I'm going to have a nightmare about a Tom Cruise infomercial selling an L Ron Hubbard book that guarantees you'll score higher on the EEG stupidity scale for only 3 EZ payments of $99.95...

    "Are you sure you're not getting stupider?"

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @04:10AM (#23195112) Journal
    "Prediction" is not accurate because that implies an absolute. The activity correlates with an increased probability of making a mistake. The study relies on statistics throughout, from the analysis of the fMRI data on, and so can only deal in probabilities.

    An Israeli team found that an increase in degree of synchronization of midline frontal theta EEG varied inversely with the probability of making a mistake. Such theta synchronization occurs over spans of 10 to 30 seconds. They also found that when a response occurs during the rising or falling slope of the synchronized theta (as opposed to near a peak), the person was more likely to make a mistake. The latter probably is the source of the evoked potential called the Error Related Negativity; it is the brain preparing to notice the error. The former seems to indicate a lagging in attention, which is when errors are most likely to occur. The two are related, meaning the brain "knows" when it is starting to droop and is more likely to make a mistake, and tells itself to get ready to notice a mistake if it happens.
    • by tgibbs ( 83782 )

      "Prediction" is not accurate because that implies an absolute.
      Clearly, this is somebody who never listens to weather predictions.

      • "Prediction" is not accurate because that implies an absolute.
        Clearly, this is somebody who never listens to weather predictions.
        I take it you're referring to "weather forecasts". Those are produced by NOAA/NWS as non-absolute data (probability of rain; range of temps between X and Y, etc.), not as specific points, although they frequently get reported as such.
  • To me the feasibility of predicting errors doesn't seem that unnatural, BUT...

    Say that a device is created which starts beeping, or (more in keeping with western political evolution the last few years) gives you an electro-shock which is recorded by the camera pointed at you for later perusal by management who will be laughing there asses off.

    Won't this essentially be a self-defeating learning device ?

    AFAIK, the better you know your job, the more all operations will be moved into the more subconsc

  • If you do not understand Norwegian the following is probably not of interest, but they covered this in the populat science radio program Verdt å vite [] yesterday and you can still listen to the podcast [].
  • I've seen my parents cook, they do not concentrate at all. Usually listening to the radio, dancing, or watching tv at the same time. Yet I didn't taste errors.

    I've seen myself playing CS, or Street Fighter 2. I never concentrate when playing games as it's a mean of relaxation for me to pwn some noobs. Yet I constantly head shots.

    I didn't RTFA, but after the headline I was thinking, "so what?". Have you ever had errors in your life where it changes your behavior, and made you a better person overall lat
  • I actually have one of these... for some reason it's going off right now...

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!