Friday, April 15, 2011

People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity

The brain's rostrolateral prefrontal cortex region (credit: UBC Dept. of Psychology)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered that people can gain greater control over their thoughts with real-time brain feedback.

Participants performed tasks that either raised or lowered mental introspection in 30-second intervals over four six-minute sessions. fMRI technology tracked real-time activity in the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC), the region of the brain involved with higher-order thoughts.

Participants with access to real-time fMRI feedback could see their RLPFC activity increase during introspection and decrease during non-introspective thoughts, such as mental tasks that focused on body sensations. These participants used the feedback to guide their thoughts, which significantly improved their ability to control their thoughts and successfully perform the mental tasks. In contrast, participants given inaccurate or no brain feedback did not achieve any improvement in brain regulation.

Participants who observed their brain activity on screen were able to engage in self-reflection and learn to control negative thoughts. The researchers compared the process to meditation.

via People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity | KurzweilAI.

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