Mind

Drivers’ brain power produces much quicker reaction times – but remember, the mind doesn’t exist

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At the Journal of Neural Engineering (Eurekalert, 28-Jul-2011), we are advised to “Put the brakes on using your brain power”:

German researchers have used drivers’ brain signals, for the first time, to assist in braking, providing much quicker reaction times and a potential solution to the thousands of car accidents that are caused by human error.

The critical question is, why don’t drivers get the memo? Quit yakking, texting, fighting with the back seat. Just drive the bus/car.

Using electroencephalography (EEG) – a technique that attaches electrodes to the scalp –, the researchers demonstrated that the mind-reading system, accompanied with modern traffic sensors, could detect a driver’s intention to break 130 milliseconds faster than a normal brake pedal response.

Driving at 100km/h, this amounts to reducing the braking distance by 3.66 meters – the full length of a compact car or the potential margin between causing and avoiding accidents.

The study, published today, 29 July 2011, in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Neural Engineering, identified the parts of the brain that are most active when braking and used a driving simulator to demonstrate the viability of mind-reading assisted driving.

The driving instructor used to tell people that. It’s also why he had an override brake in the car. Vid:

11 Replies to “Drivers’ brain power produces much quicker reaction times – but remember, the mind doesn’t exist

  1. 1
    markf says:

    The driving instructor used to tell people that

    I am confused – what did the driving instructor used to tell people to do?

  2. 2
    DrBot says:

    And why do you believe that the mind doesn’t exist. I thought that was partly what they are studying?

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Confused here too:

    What does the headline mean?

  4. 4
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    And just to clarify: EEG is not a “mind-reading system”.

    It measure voltages produced by the brain.

    And because of the tight coupling between mental events and neural events, those voltages can sometimes, given context, tell us a bit about what the subject might be about to do, or whether, for example, s/he is aware s/he has made an error.

    So it is totally non-surprising that an EEG signal might indicate the intention to brake; nor is it surprising that a fast servo system could send that signal to the braking system of a car faster than the brain can get the signal to the muscles and thence to the brake pedal.

    Although dangerous, I would have thought – because we have more intentions to act than we have executions of those intentions – unless the system placed the execution threshold exactly where it happens in “nature”, you would expect artefactual “impulsive” behaviour. And there is at least some evidence that this threshold is not unidimensional (there is evidence that it may involves a voltage reaching a threshold value, and being maintained for a threshold time, and this in itself may be subject to modulation by other executive processes).

    Fast reaction times aren’t all good news – not braking for a squirrel, even though our instincts are to do so, may save the lives of our passengers and others that this system would endanger.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    And just to clarify: EEG is not a “mind-reading system”.

    It measure voltages produced by the brain.

    And if the voltages stop, the EEG sends a message containing 0 bits of information so that an observer will be informed that the subject is brain-dead (or doing an excellent job of faking it).

    IOW, you can be informed about something by not being informed about it, thus demonstrating meaningful messages can convey no information.

  6. 6
    WilliamRoache says:

    Mung,

    IOW, you can be informed about something by not being informed about it, thus demonstrating meaningful messages can convey no information.

    How do you know that the EEG is connected to a brain at all? Or what an EEG is at all?

    That’s right. Information was exchanged prior to the EEG data being provided. Context was provided. And that took information.

    So, perhaps you could tell me what you are informed about by the following string:

    ” ”

    ?

    So IOW you can’t be informed about something by not being informed about it unless you have prior information about what is indicated by the lack of being informed.

  7. 7
    WilliamRoache says:

    Mung,

    IOW, you can be informed about something by not being informed about it, thus demonstrating meaningful messages can convey no information.

    How do you know that the EEG is connected to a brain at all? Or what an EEG is at all?

    That’s right. Information was exchanged prior to the EEG data being provided. Context was provided. And that took information.

    So, perhaps you could tell me what you are informed about by the following string:

    ” ”

    ?

    So IOW you can’t be informed about something by not being informed about it unless you have prior information about what is indicated by the lack of being informed. And so therefore you are wrong.

  8. 8
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    I think Mung is being a little sarcastic.

    And actually we can’t infer brain death from an EEG flatline.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    WR:

    Information was exchanged prior to the EEG data being provided. Context was provided. And that took information.

    So IOW you can’t be informed about something by not being informed about it unless you have prior information about what is indicated by the lack of being informed.

    If only more people here understood that information requires background knowledge and is dependent on prior information.

    But I think we’re getting there.

    Once people started to catch on that even Shannon information is based upon expectation about something and includes concepts like uncertainty (which is uncertainty about something) and reduction in uncertainty (which is reduction in uncertainty about something).

    I guess you’re arriving late.

    The idea that meaningless information is a rational and coherent concept has been floated.

    And the claim that information must be about something has been challenged.

    Would you think it possible to carry on a meaningful conversation about information with someone who denies that information has to be about anything at all and who asserts that information can be meaningless?

    And if they argued that Shannon information supports those claims?

    And so therefore you are wrong.

    In a very trivial way. It was intentional.

  10. 10
    Ilion says:

    Would you think it possible to carry on a meaningful conversation about information with someone who denies that information has to be about anything at all and who asserts that information can be meaningless?

    Surely one could engage very meaningful conversationalizing with such a one … just so long as one understood ‘meaningful’ in the sense of meaningless.

  11. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Is anyone going to discuss the OP?

    Or is this going to be just another Lizzie-thinks-that-information-doesn’t-have-to-be-meaningful fest?

    Because there is another thread for that.

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