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Japanese Scientists find New technique that can manipulate Brain Activity to boost Self-confidence

The new technique called 'Decoded Neurofeedback' identifies brain activity linked to confidence and then amplifies it to a high confidence state

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A researcher holds a human brain. VOA
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Tokyo, Dec 17, 2016: Japanese scientists have in a breakthrough developed a new technique that can manipulate people’s brain activity to boosts their self-confidence, a finding that opens the potential treatments for conditions such as post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) and phobias.

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The new technique called ‘Decoded Neurofeedback’ identifies brain activity linked to confidence and then amplifies it to a high confidence state.

For patients with PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease self confidence is an important aspect, which is often complicated by patients thinking negatively of their own capacities.

In the study, using this technique, participants’ brains were scanned to monitor and detect the occurrence of specific complex patterns of activity corresponding to high confidence states, while they performed a simple perceptual task.

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Whenever the pattern of high confidence was detected, participants received a small monetary reward.

This experiment allowed researchers to directly boost one’s own confidence unconsciously, i.e. participants were unaware that such manipulation took place.

Importantly, the effect could be reversed, as confidence could also be decreased.

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“By continuously pairing the occurrence of the highly confident state with a reward – a small amount of money – in real-time, we were able to do just that: when participants had to rate their confidence in the perceptual task at the end of the training, their were consistently more confident,” Aurelio Cortese from the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan.

The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. (IANS)

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Novel AI Tool May help to Predict Alzheimer’s risk

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization

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New AI tool can predict Alzheimer's risk. Pixabay

A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data.

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment,” Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” she added.

Alzheimer's
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future,” Chakravarty noted.

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

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Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease. (IANS)