Our bodies are the most amazing machines in this world, and scientists have dedicated their lives to discovery the mysteries of the body right down to our cells, finding out exactly how we work. Yet there is still one area in our body that is still baffling scientists – our brains! The more we learn, the more questions are formed rather than answered. However, there is a technology that is showing us more insight into our minds than ever before. EEG technology can track and record our brain waves, allowing scientists to create a map of our brain activity during certain activities. This level of mapping has led to a series of recent studies that aim to unlock the mysteries of the mind.
For Medical Usage
Take the Guardian’s recent study, in collaboration with Tine Tempah, that looked at the way in which music can evoke a certain emotion in our brains. For instance, a song that you listened to during a bad break-up can bring up feelings of anguish, even if you felt perfectly happy before listening to the song. This has lead researchers to begin developing a method of using music therapy to treat mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression using music and EEG without the need for medication.
Similarly, EEG has also beginning to be used in the diagnosis of attention disorders. It’s thought that around 5% of the population suffers from an attention disorder, with many more lying undiagnosed. Here EEG can be used to identify a specific brain pattern that is an indicator of the disorder and with further research could become commonplace in the future for diagnosis.
Breaking Through Disability
When you have a disability, whether it is physical or mental, it can mean you’re restricted from doing something that you want to, such as playing a musical instrument. The Mindtunes project was created by Smirnoff and DJ Fresh to create music only using our minds and EEG. Indeed, the project, which featured three disabled friends resulted in a single that has been sold on iTunes to raise money for charity.
Yet, even more exciting, EEG has been used in people without an arm, to allow them to control a prosthetic arm using only their minds! The technology is still young, but there’s no denying that if this can become mainstream it will revolutionise medicine.
Allowing us to Train Our Brains
We often think about improving the muscles in our arms or legs using strength training, but our brain is also a muscle that be trained, and EEG is showing incredible insight into this. Take the Brain on Poker study, that mapped the different ways an expert and amateur poker player’s mind worked during a game. This study showed that expert players had honed their brains to think more logically during ‘emotional’ plays such as bluffing, whereas the amateur players were ruled by their emotions. Using EEG it may be possible to entirely change how we think in certain situations.
EEG is incredibly interesting piece of technology, and with its insights into our brains it’s likely that more and more EEG studies will be conducted. Who knows what EEG will reveal about our minds in the future and, more excitedly, what previously impossible things it will allow us to do.