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ashley

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neurogameback [Sep. 4th, 2007|11:01 pm]
ashley
So video game companies are getting ready to put out some of the first brainwave-controlled video games (allegedly as early as 2008). The idea is you stick brainwave-reading electrodes to your head, the computer reads the signal, and translates it into action in the game world.

Direct Brain-to-Game Interface Worries Scientists
http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2007/09/bci_games

This part is pretty ludacris though:
"Emotiv CEO Nam Do declined to explain how his company's technology works, but denies it's a form of neurofeedback... 'There is no two-way interaction, and the technology does not require the user to train their brain to get into a predetermined state in any way.'"

If you use your EEG signals alone to change things on a computer screen, then it's neurofeedback. This guy is claiming that if it's not done in a clinical setting, then it's not neurofeedback; he's wrong. You're still using your brainwaves to go in a certain direction (which actually IS a two-way interaction). That's all neurofeedback is. I trust that Emotiv and NeuroSky will do whatever controlled clinical studies the FDA makes them do, but the fact that they don't consider EEG-based video games to be neurofeedback is a little worrisome. Then again, no one ever did any clinical studies on the neurological effects of TV watching.

This is like a commercialized version of the neurofeedback games that were at the NASA party back in April, which were basically just move forward & move backward by collecting blood in the front of your brain and then calling it quits when you started to get a headache. Since it's nearly impossible to deliberately do anything complicated with EEG signals, I'm not sure EEG-based gaming is ever really going to take off. I'm interested to see where this goes though.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2007-09-05 01:57 pm (UTC)
worried that games might end up controlling our brains.
but video games already work like this, although in a more mediated manner, right? brain strengthens pathways that are used for things that produce in-game results, and it is a constant feedback loop between brain and game (mediated by hands and eyes). i am not that knowledgeable about brain-stuffs, but it seems to me that taking out the "hands" part of the mediation is not a huge difference, because either way you target certain brain states to do well in a game.

Imagine that somebody uses a game with slow brain-wave activity and then drives a car while still in that state
or imagine that someone meditates, and then drives a car? or that someone plays a game that puts them in an aggressive mood, and then drives a car? or that someone has a fight with their spouse, and then drives a car?
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[User Picture]From: ashleyisachild
2007-09-05 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you make a point about video games already controlling our brains. But in traditional video games, the output pathways that you're reinforcing are your muscles controlling your hands, whereas in EEG-controlled games, the output pathways that you're reinforcing are your brainwaves. This is a huge difference because most brainwave patterns that you can read with EEG correspond to different brain states, eg. slow brain waves are generally only seen when you're falling asleep, faster rhythmic brain waves are more common when you're relaxing or meditating, and fast asynchronous brain waves are more common when you're doing regular talking and thinking. And since brainwaves aren't really a type of output that our brain has any use for, it's difficult and slow to switch deliberately between these states, and when you do switch deliberately, you're training your brain to be in that state more. I agree that this doesn't have any relative impact on things like being able to drive a car, but you're still training your brain to exist in some brainwave state, which you're not doing when you manipulate a controller with your hands.

I actually think direct (invasive) brain-game interfaces would work better, because when you're relying on EEG to get information, you're relying on these low spatial-resolution, low temporal-resolution brain outputs that are hard to get deliberate commands from. Overall brain states is all you have to go on when you're that far away from the brain. Getting the computer to interface directly with the brain would allow you to actually be able to specify commands directly by picking up signals from your motor cortex, which your brain already uses to move things attached to your body in different directions.

As a sidenote, this article mentioned that some technology has been invented to allow quadriplegics to control a computer cursor with their brainwaves, but I think they weren't aware that a technology has also been invented to allow quadriplegics to control a computer cursor with their motor cortex, via electrodes implanted in their brain. I think this latter technology is less well-known because the kinks haven't been worked out as well, but it definitely exists. See this article:
http://www.livescience.com/health/050317_brain_interface.html
and these videos:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3848551008751873824
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4678952485336714132
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[User Picture]From: mrvoid
2007-09-05 02:00 pm (UTC)
That is the coolest thing I've ever heard in my life. Especially if the games control our brains.
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[User Picture]From: rival
2007-09-05 07:07 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear.
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