March 30, 2009
Brain Waves Can Predict Mistakes
Just before you make a mistake, your brain actually gives off a warning sign. This discovery could lead to the development of devices that alert air traffic controllers that their attention is flagging, researchers said.
A team of scientists at the University of California, Davis, worked with the Donders Institute in the Netherlands to study students' brain activity during an attention-demanding test. Using a non-invasive technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), which is similar to but more sensitive than an EEG -- the technique commonly used in hospitals to detect seizures -- the researchers recorded the students' brain waves during a monotonous test.
"It looks as if the brain is saying, 'Pay attention!' and then reducing the likelihood of another mistake," Ali Mazaheri, a research fellow at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain was quoted as saying.
Mazaheri said he expects this discovery to quickly result in practical applications, such as a wireless EEG that could be deployed to an air traffic controller's station to trigger an alert when it senses the alpha activity is beginning to regularly exceed a certain level. It could also lead to new therapies for children with ADHD.
SOURCE: Study published online on March 23, 2009 by the journal Human Brain Mapping