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Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
03-05-2010, 12:21 PM,
Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Quote:Sinister news today, as psychologists in the US unveil plans for so-called "neuromarketing" - the use of magnetic-resonance brainscans to maximise the appeal of products while they are being designed.

Dan Ariely and his colleague Gregory S Burns - professors in the fields of psychology, behavioral economics, psychiatry and "neuropolicy" - contend that using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans (fMRI) technology on test subjects while preparing a product could be marketing gold.

"Neuromarketing may prove to be an affordable way for marketers to gather information that was previously unobtainable, or that consumers themselves may not even be fully aware of," says Ariely, according to a statement released yesterday by Duke University, where he is based.

Techno mindreading preparation, according to Ariely, needn't be limited to such applications as selecting designs for cars, gadgets etc. It would also be ideal for gauging people's reactions to food, entertainment, buildings and more.

Perhaps most sinisterly of all, Ariely comments that "neuromarketing" could also become a major factor in the "design phase" of "political candidates".

The two profs' paper, Neuromarketing: the hope and hype of neuroimaging in business, is published here in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (subscriber link)
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05-11-2010, 04:05 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
scary. paternalistic liberalists will assign choice architects to help the group make the "right" decision on which candidate to support, while the candidates have already been previously constructed/suited according to the results of various MRI scans taken of the group.

sounds insane.
05-11-2010, 05:02 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Nothing scary about this technology being applied in the free market, where rational people can choose not to buy those products no matter how appealing the marketing is (or not look at ads altogether), and parting a fool from his dollar is no one's fault but the fool's.

What is scary is the violent monopoly (aka government) using this to design better Obamas and Romneys, as well as better Judas goats like Ron Paul to sucker the people who should know better back into the corrupt political system that is used to rationalize and justify their own enslavement!
05-11-2010, 09:07 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Quote:The two profs' paper, Neuromarketing: the hope and hype of neuroimaging in business, is published here in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (subscriber link).

Can anyone get access to a copy of this paper? The link errors out now.
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05-13-2010, 01:10 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
A copy of the paper Neuromarketing: the hope and hype of neuroimaging in business is now available on the site at

More information on the technology and capabilities behind MRI brain scanning. Harvard and MIT professors working under the banner of Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital were involved in the development. It was being further developed and marketed by a PA corporation called Siemens Medical Solutions.

Quote:A Better Brain Scanner
New brain scanners could shed light on fear, joy, and disease.
Friday, July 20, 2007
By Emily Singer

New brain scanners promise to deliver images of higher resolution than any now available from a commercial instrument. By using multiple sensors placed close to the head, the device can generate accurate images in less time, which could ultimately aid in the diagnosis of diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy. Medical imaging giant Siemens is developing a commercial version of the technology.

"This might be the biggest-impact development [in brain imaging] for the next few years, especially because Siemens is commercializing it," says John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at MIT. "If you have a more precise view of the brain, you could take a big step forward."

In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a magnetic field generated by a large magnet sends protons in the brain spinning. Specially constructed coils of wire in the machine detect changes in the spin, which differ in different tissue types, as the magnetic field changes. Computer algorithms then use measurements from different parts of the brain to create the anatomical picture.

MRI machines in medical centers typically have up to 12 coils, but the new devices under development have up to 96 coils arrayed in a dense field over the scalp. "A small detector up close is more efficient," says Lawrence Wald, a biophysicist at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), whose team has developed the devices in collaboration with Siemens. "But it only captures a small part of the brain, so you need lots of small detectors spread out over the scalp." Each coil measures a small but highly accurate spin signal from the chunk of brain tissue beneath it. The images are then computationally stitched together to create a high-resolution picture of the brain.

These multichannel devices have already helped some epilepsy patients. In a study using an early prototype, neurologists found abnormalities in about two-thirds of epileptic patients whose previous brain scans had been declared normal, making these patients better candidates for neurosurgery.

Scientists are now using a newer prototype to study Alzheimer's patients. "In diseases like Alzheimer's, where there is not a basic diagnosis based on imaging, we hope that being able to look at smaller alternations in the brain would yield some additional diagnostic information and perhaps allow you to monitor medication," says Wald.

Patients suspected of having Alzheimer's may get an MRI to rule out other neurological causes for their symptoms. But recent studies suggest that subtle neurological changes increase risk for the disease; these changes can include shrinkage of the hippocampus, a crucial memory area, and of parts of the cortex important for memory and higher cognitive function. Detecting these changes requires lengthy scanning sessions to generate high-quality data, making such scans unfeasible in routine clinical practice. "This technology has the potential to change that," says Brad Dickerson, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, in Boston. While he cautions that routine clinical use is still years off, he says that "we are rapidly moving into a new era where we can use this kind of data to identify abnormalities that are consistent with Alzheimer's."

Siemens is now working on a commercial version of the 32-channel array developed at MGH, which is expected to be on the market later this year. The imaging device, now being tested by some of Siemens's customers, "increases spatial or temporal resolution," says Jeffrey Bundy, vice president of the MR division at Siemens Medical Solutions, headquartered in Malvern, PA.

The device is likely to have important applications in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a variation of standard MRI that tracks blood flow in the brain as an indirect measure of activity. The technique is often used to locate the parts of the brain that control specific functions, such as speech and movement. The first clinical application for the device will likely be fMRI for neurosurgery planning, says Bundy. "Surgeons want to know where speech and motor areas are when they take a tumor out--the more precise, the better."

The instrument could also impact our basic understanding of the brain. "The spatial resolution of fMRI is somewhat limited," says Gabrieli. "We've hit the wall on a lot of scientific questions." With higher-resolution images, scientists could try to determine neurological basis of various aspects of cognitive function. Gabrieli, for example, says that he'd like to figure out if different parts of the amygdala--a small structure deep in the brain that plays a key role in emotion--regulate different emotions, such as fear and joy.

While Siemens is putting the finishing touches on the 32-channel array, Wald and his colleague Graham Wiggins, also at MGH, are already developing new scanners with even more channels, including 96-channel and 128-channel arrays. "These are the highest-resolution brain images being taken today," says Wald.

Copyright Technology Review 2007.
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05-13-2010, 04:35 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
they're already using brain monitoring in market surveys. EEG's are commonplace, particularly in advertising campaigns for smokers and fast-food consumers. I'd imagine the costs for using MRI's are pretty substantial, and this seems more like an advertising campaign directed at market research companies to buy MRI machines than reporting of what's likely to become a trend. I'd expect that those who "unveiled" this concept are pretty heavily invested in the technology...
looks like I'll have to spend some time looking into it.
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05-13-2010, 05:23 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
I'd apply the 20 year rule on this technology.

The real question is how it will be utilized. I've seen it demonstrated on an episode of Popular Science The Future of.. as a replacement to the lie detector.

It will have its inaugural test in court very shortly.

Quote:Lie-Detection Brain Scan Could Be Used in Court for First Time
By Alexis Madrigal Email Author
May 4, 2010

A Brooklyn attorney hopes to break new ground this week when he offers a brain scan as evidence that a key witness in a civil trial is telling the truth, has learned.


If the fMRI scan is admitted, it would be a legal first in the United States and could have major consequences for the future of neuroscience in court.

The lawyer, David Zevin, wants to use that evidence to break a he-said/she-said stalemate in an employer-retaliation case. He’s representing Cynette Wilson, a woman who claims that after she complained to temp agency CoreStaff Services about sexual harassment at a job site, she no longer received good assignments. Another worker at CoreStaff claims he heard her supervisor say that she should not be placed on jobs because of her complaint. The supervisor denies that he said anything of the sort.

So, Zevin had the coworker undergo an fMRI brain scan by the company Cephos, which claims to provide “independent, scientific validation that someone is telling the truth.”

Laboratory studies using fMRI, which measures blood-oxygen levels in the brain, have suggested that when someone lies, the brain sends more blood to the ventrolateral area of the prefrontal cortex. In a very small number of studies, researchers have identified lying in study subjects (.pdf) with accuracy ranging from 76 percent to over 90 percent. But some scientists and lawyers like New York University neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps doubts those results can be applied outside the lab.

“The data in their studies don’t appear to be reliable enough to use in a court of law,” Phelps said. “There is just no reason to think that this is going to be a good measure of whether someone is telling the truth.

General fMRI data from research has been used in sentencing, but an individual’s brain scan has yet to be entered as evidence in a civil or criminal trial to help the jury determine whether someone was telling the truth. Individual fMRI evidence was offered in at least one other case by a San Diego attorney defending a father accused of sexual abuse, but the evidence was eventually withdrawn and did not make it into the record.

But this case could be different, said Ed Cheng, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School who may serve as a consultant to the plaintiff.

“It’s not like the sex abuse stuff that was going on in San Diego. You can imagine that the case was in many ways a whole lot more complicated. There’s a good reason to believe that the research studies don’t port to the sex abuse case. But they port much better here,” Cheng said. “This is a witness who arguably doesn’t have much at stake. It’s not a criminal case.”

But Phelps strenuously disagrees. She calls attention to the fact that the brain scan was done four years after the witness allegedly heard the CoreStaff manager’s remarks about the plaintiff.

But even in the best of circumstances, Phelps argues that fMRI evidence should not be allowed in court, even if there are at least two companies peddling the service to the legal profession.

“I always come down hard on these companies that are selling it,” she said. “But these companies are going ahead and making claims already, based on some data that’s not so great, that they can do things that they can’t really do.”

Cheng does not see the fMRI evidence in the same light. Humans, he pointed out, are terrible lie detectors and yet our legal system is based on allowing them to make those determinations. If slightly better than chance is the baseline, any improvement on that could be a reason to allow the evidence into court.

“The validation studies may have some problems,” he said. “But if we can help the jury make this decision even a little bit better, it’s hard to defend keeping this stuff out.”

The latest attempt to use fMRI lie-detection evidence is sure to spark a contentious debate in court over whether the brain scans meet the standard for scientific evidence in New York, which is known as the Frye standard. To clear the bar, the evidence must be “generally accepted as reliable in the relevant scientific community.”

If Phelps is considered to be in the relevant scientific community — and she is — slipping past Frye may be difficult. On the other hand, fMRI has become a well-accepted and oft-used tool for brain researchers over the last decade.

And of course, whether the evidence gets in won’t just affect Cynette Wilson’s case. Due to legal precedence, if fMRI brain scans are allowed in once, they’ll be more likely to be used in more trials down the line.

“Once you have precedent, it’s much harder to keep it out,” Phelps said. “They’ve yet to get it admitted as evidence. So every time it comes up, it’s very important that it doesn’t get in.”

Beginning May 5 in the court room in Brooklyn, we’ll see another skirmish in what’s likely to be a long war over how fMRI machines should be deployed in pursuit of justice.

Cephos declined to comment on the open case.

Future crime prosecution (under the fear of terrorism of course) and profiling may not be far off.

Joe Biden on Chip Tracking and Future Crime

Crime Prediction Software Is Here and It's a Very Bad Idea
There are no others, there is only us.
05-13-2010, 05:25 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
that doesn't bode well...
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05-13-2010, 05:53 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Update: Brain Scan Dismissed by Brooklyn Judge as Court Evidence
But another case that would submit fMRI scans to the legal test is coming up in Tennessee
By Jeremy Hsu Posted 05.07.2010 at 11:50 am

They'll keep trying to set the precedent and then perpetually cite it or maybe they are just giving the appearance of a fight when the outcome is predetermined.
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05-13-2010, 05:57 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-13-2010, 05:57 AM by h3rm35.)
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
thanks for the update... no doubt that prosecutors will try to wrap their grubby fingers onto anything that allows them to seem more infallible. I expect we'll see it's use before too long, and we won't hear much about it when it happens. I wonder how much the going rate for a judge is?
[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
05-13-2010, 06:09 AM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Released today, seems things are ramping up in this arena ..

Quote:Traces of the past: Computer algorithm able to 'read' memories
12 March 2010

Computer programs have been able to predict which of three short films a person is thinking about, just by looking at their brain activity. The research, conducted by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London), provides further insight into how our memories are recorded.

Professor Eleanor Maguire led this Wellcome Trust-funded study, an extension of work published last year which showed how spatial memories - in that case, where a volunteer was standing in a virtual reality room - are recorded in regular patterns of activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

"In our previous experiment, we were looking at basic memories, at someone's location in an environment," says Professor Maguire. "What is more interesting is to look at 'episodic' memories - the complex, everyday memories that include much more information on where we are, what we are doing and how we feel."

To explore how such memories are recorded, the researchers showed ten volunteers three short films and asked them to memorise what they saw. The films were very simple, sharing a number of similar features - all included a woman carrying out an everyday task in a typical urban street, and each film was the same length, seven seconds long. For example, one film showed a woman drinking coffee from a paper cup in the street before discarding the cup in a litterbin; another film showed a (different) woman posting a letter.
Stills from the films used in the memory study
Images: Stills from the films used in the study. Credit: Professor Eleanor Maguire

The volunteers were then asked to recall each of the films in turn while inside an fMRI scanner, which records brain activity by measuring related changes in blood flow. A computer algorithm then studied the patterns and had to identify which film the volunteer was recalling purely by looking at the pattern of their brain activity. The results are published in the journal 'Current Biology'.

"The algorithm was able to predict correctly which of the three films the volunteer was recalling significantly above what would be expected by chance," explains Martin Chadwick, lead author of the study. "This suggests that our memories are recorded in a regular pattern."

Although a whole network of brain areas support memory, the researchers focused their study on the medial temporal lobe, an area deep within the brain believed to be most heavily involved in episodic memory. It includes the hippocampus - an area Professor Maguire and colleagues have studied extensively in the past.

Professor Maguire discussing the study and its results

Download audio [MP3 5.1 MB]

Running time: 5 min 31 s.

They found that the key areas involved in recording the memories were the hippocampus and its immediate neighbours. However, the computer algorithm performed best when analysing activity in the hippocampus itself, suggesting that this is the most important region for recording episodic memories. In particular, three areas of the hippocampus - the rear right and the front left and front right areas - seemed to be involved consistently across all participants. The rear right area had been implicated in the earlier study, further enforcing the idea that this is where spatial information is recorded. However, it is still not clear what role the front two regions play.

"Now that we are developing a clearer picture of how our memories are stored, we hope to examine how they are affected by time, the ageing process and by brain injury," says Professor Maguire.

Chadwick M et al. Decoding individual episodic memory traces in the human hippocampus. Curr Biol 2010 [Epub ahead of print].

Craig Brierley
Senior Media Officer
Wellcome Trust
T +44 (0)20 7611 7329

Study Reference:
Martin J. Chadwick, Demis Hassabis, Nikolaus Weiskopf, and Eleanor A. Maguire. Decoding Individual Episodic Memory Traces in the Human Hippocampus. Current Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.01.053

It would be interesting to see the funding channels and personal connections to this charity organization - Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL.
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05-14-2010, 10:09 PM,
RE: Brain scanners to be used to 'design' political candidates
Jury Reaches Decision in Brain-Scan Test Case Decision

After a judge excluded brain scan evidence offered by the plaintiff, a jury quickly found for the defense in a Brooklyn sexual harassment case this week.

The case, which drew national attention following a article earlier this month, was one of the first times that fMRI brain scanning had been offered as evidence in court.

David Zevin, the plaintiff’s lead attorney, had argued that his client, temp worker Cynette Wilson, had been blacklisted from assignments after complaining about sexual harassment at a work site. The plaintiff’s key witness claimed his boss at the staffing agency, Edwin Medina, told him not to give Wilson any more assignments. The staffing agency denied the allegation.

To try to prove his witness was not lying, Zevin contacted the brain scanning company Cephos, which agreed to provide their fMRI lie-detection test for free. When asked several questions like, “Did Edwin Medina tell you not to place Cynette because she was too legally savvy?” the witness, according to Cephos, answered truthfully.

But the New York State Court jury felt otherwise. They deliberated for less than half an hour before finding for the defense.

“Given that the jury took so little time to deliberate, it certainly suggests that they did not believe that this witness was credible,” wrote Jessica Cortes of Davis & Gilbert LLP, lead attorney for the defense, in an e-mail to “The plaintiff’s witness admitted under oath to the jury that his earlier sworn testimony — which was the basis of the plaintiff’s case and her only alleged evidence of retaliation — was not true. So it certainly begs the question as to how reliable the fMRI test could be?”

But Zevin said that his witness’ statements in the previous sworn testimony were minor timeline issues and that on the core issue of whether Medina had blackballed Wilson, his witness was telling the truth.

Cortes successfully argued in pretrial motions that the fMRI evidence should be excluded because it was the fundamental right of juries, not machines, to determine the credibility of witnesses, regardless of their respective accuracy. In this case, the jury’s estimation of the case presumably differed from that delivered by Cephos’ brain scan report.

The line-of-attack sidestepped the lively scientific debate over the reliability of brain scanning techniques. The judge in the Brooklyn case plans to issue a legal opinion on why he excluded the fMRI evidence within the next several days.

Meanwhile, in a Tennessee Federal court, Cephos’ fMRI evidence is getting a much more thorough vetting. In a case involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud, the brain scans are going through a Daubert hearing, the Federal court process that determines the admissibility of scientific evidence. The hearing began yesterday and wrapped up this morning. A ruling will come bfore June 1, when the trial is slated to begin.

According to an observer at the trial who ScienceInsider’s Greg Miller interviewed last night, the hearing was not clearly going in any direction.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t clear who was winning, [University of Pennsylvania cognitive neuroscientist Martha] Farah said. But she says that Judge [Tu] Pham seems determined to hear everyone out. “I think that we are getting a fairly complete picture of what’s known and not known about the validity of this method,’” Miller wrote.

If the evidence is admitted, it will be the first time fMRI evidence about the truthfulness of testimony makes it into a U.S. court.
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