Month: July 2017

Ep 20: Sensory substitution and brain stimulation

Ep 20: Sensory substitution and brain stimulation

Sensory substitution and brain stimulation

In episode 13 we talked about brain stimulation, using electrical and magnetic stimulation of the brain, without having to cut into the skull, in order to improve certain types of skills. Starting in episode 17, we talked about sensory substitution, using one sense to deliver the missing information that would normally be delivered by a missing or impaired sense. That culminated in episode 19, when I demonstrated the vOICe.

An obvious question is, can brain stimulation improve sensory substitution?

Brain stimulation has been used to treat amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye. Not all the results have been very encouraging, but here’s a paper that suggested longer term results might be possible.

Long Lasting Effects of Daily Theta Burst rTMS Sessions in the Human Amblyopic Cortex

Lastly, from the website of those who developed the vOICe, we have an article where they very briefly mention the possibility of using brain stimulation to help vOICe users better integrate the visual information that is being turned into sound. There is much more there and it’s worth the read for those interested in learning more about sensory substitution and synesthesia.

Artificial Synesthesia for Synthetic Vision via Sensory Substitution

Ep 19: Can you hear what I see?

Ep 19: Can you hear what I see?

Can you hear what I see?

Continuing the subject of sensory substitution, we have the vOICe. In this episode, I explain what it is, how it works, and let you listen in as I do an exercise from the vOICe manual.

If you’d like to know more about the vOICe and/or download a free copy of the software for your very own, you can visit the “seeing with sound” website.

Ep 18: Sometimes it goes away

Ep 18: Sometimes it goes away

Sometimes it goes away

Today we have the sad story of the optacon, a cautionary tale that is the reason I prefer the vOICe over the brain port for my sensory substitution needs.

Here’s some rather old films that explain what the optacon is, or rather was, and how it works, or rather worked.

Optaconmovies – YouTube

And here’s the story of how it all went wrong.

From Optacon to Oblivion: The Telesensory Story

Ep 17: do you lick what you see?

Ep 17: do you lick what you see?

do you lick what you see?

Today we learn of Paul Bach-y-Rita, and his work with sensory substitution, including the tongue stimulator used to provide visual information to the blind.

Here’s a YouTube video about Paul Bach-y-Rita and his work.

Paul Bach-y-Rita and Neuroplasticity – YouTube

Here’s an article about the tongue stimulator

Seeing with Your Tongue | The New Yorker

And finally, here’s a link to the company that manufactures and sells the tongue stimulator.

BrainPort V100 Vision Aid

Ep 16: can we use one sense for another?

Ep 16: can we use one sense for another?

can we use one sense for another?

If you read the following article, you’ll note that the person using the robotic exoskeleton is getting sensory feedback via his skin. Can we really use one sense in place of another?

Paraplegic in robotic suit kicks off World Cup – BBC News

Ep 15: A different approach

Ep 15: A different approach

A different approach

In our last episode, we saw attempts to deal with spinal cord injury by use of a robotic suit directed by the subject’s brain. This time, we have a different approach. From monkeys to rats, here is a paralyzed rat that walked.

Checkout a roughly fifteen minute tedtalk on the subject.

Grégoire Courtine: The paralyzed rat that walked

Ep 14: A monkey matrix

Ep 14: A monkey matrix

A monkey matrix

Today, we examine the work of Miguel Nicolelis, who has been researching a computer brain interface.

In this article, we learn of how a monkey was able to move a robotic arm with its thoughts.

Monkey Think, Robot Do

This 15-minute tedtalk covers many years of his work, including how monkeys have been connected to a virtual world, with both input and output running directly to and from the monkey’s brain.

Miguel Nicolelis: A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts.

If that isn’t strange enough, here’s work from 2013, when two rat brains were networked together.

New Research Suggests Two Rat Brains Can Be Linked – The New York Times

A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information

Finally, we have the BBC article on when a paraplegic used a robotic exoskeleton to deliver the 2014 World Cup’s ceremonial first kick.

Paraplegic in robotic suit kicks off World Cup – BBC News

ep 13: Jucing up the brain

ep 13: Jucing up the brain

juicing up the brain

During today’s episode, I became confused as to the date at which thing got published when. I got it now. If only I’d had one of these devices to help.

Here’s the first article I read on Allan Snyder’s work, published in 2003. It’s an article in The New York Times, and a quick but enjoyable read. I don’t have a link to the first actual academic paper of his that I went through.

Savant for a Day

Here’s a paper Allan Snyder published in 2009 that covers much of his work over several years.

Explaining and inducing savant skills: privileged access to lower level, less-processed information

Here’s a longish video put out by the world science festival in 2015.

Spark of Genius? Awakening a Better Brain

And last but not least, a company that provides completely unregulated devices that you can use at home to stimulate your brain for somewhere between roughly 150 and 600 dollars American. If you don’t mind that nobody has any idea what the long-term effects might turn out to be, and that no one is regulating these devices.

focus tDCS Brain Stimulation Devices – take charge™

Ep 12: Savant Syndrome

Ep 12: Savant Syndrome

Savant Syndrome

Sometimes, extraordinary abilities are demonstrated by those who are extraordinarily limited.

The savant syndrome: an extraordinary condition. A synopsis: past, present, future

And sometimes, abilities arise from an illness of, or injury to, the brain.

Eureka! When a Blow to the Head Creates a Sudden Genius