Monday, August 27, 2007

$$ Over Mind Over Matter

For the new fMRI entrepreneurs (see article in the New York Times),
WOULD that thinking made it so... But Christopher deCharms, the chief executive of Omneuron, a start-up in Menlo Park, Calif., believes the adage.

The company he founded has created technologies that teach sufferers to think away their pain, and plans to similarly treat addiction, depression and other intractable neurological and psychological conditions.

Omneuron is one of a number of new companies that are commercializing a brain-scanning technology called real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. Using large scanners to measure blood flow to different parts of the brain, the technology makes the brain’s activity visible by revealing which of its parts are busiest when we perform different tasks.

Because it's obvious that knowing what parts of the brain "light up" during states of pain, addiction, depression, compulsive hand washing, paranoid delusions, epileptic seizures, etc. will cure those conditions. Right?
Superficially similar to an older technology, electroencephalogram biofeedback, which measures electrical feedback across multiple areas of the brain, fMRI feedback measures the blood flow in precise areas of the brain. [but is 100 times more expensive]
Ugh, and there's more:
Other entrepreneurs are working on ways to deploy fMRI as a lie detector, a tool for conducting marketing research or [Ed. note: a worthwhile application as] an instrument to make brain surgeries safer and more precise.
Yes, another popular fMRIology article about lie detection and neuromarketing. Read the article in The New Yorker instead.

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