Reading Your Mind: How to Decode the Brain Mid-Thought

Ever wondered what it might be like to watch the activity of your own brain while you had a compulsion to eat a fattening dessert, thought about dancing or catching a football, or simply felt elated or depressed? How might such a technology be used to help people who have had a brain injury or a stroke, or have cerebral palsy, or struggle with an addiction?

Dr. Stephen LaConte believes that if you could decode what the brain is sensing, doing, or thinking as you scanned it using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), then you would have a powerful tool for adapting fMRI experiments in flight. Dr. LaConte has pioneered a real-time approach to fMRI that he has dubbed temporally adaptive brain state, or TABS. With this approach, he uses fMRI data not just to map the brain, but also to decode what the brain is doing mid-thought. This real-time fMRI approach has potential applications for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dr. LaConte believes, for instance, that if the brain can receive input about itself in real time, it may be able to harness its own plasticity to repair itself.

This event is part of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council's monthly series, Technology and Toast.

Stephen LaConte, PhD, Assistant Professor, VTC Research Institute
Inn at Virginia Tech | 901 Prices Fork Road | Blacksburg, Va.
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