Thursday, October 29, 2009

eye tracker

Met up with a friend working in Sweden for a company who make eye tracking software. The human eye is a dynamic camera that is pulled into action by six muscles each externally and one internally. Our gaze can reveal deep pyschological patterns. Desomnd Morris, a trained psychologist used gaze tracking to study the pattern in which one looks at a picture. Ad industry has used it to track the items of interest to customers and this information has been used to determine the hierarchy of product placement in supermarket shelves.

In criminology it can be adapted to be used as an advanced lie detector. When shown a picture of the crime scene, only one person will know the exact location of suspect items...the criminal. When I had my eyes tracked it was embarassing, as the picture shown was of a beauty in bikini. You dont want this kind of information to be shown with percentages on the areas seen most. Behavioural psychology can have many interesting experiments using this technology.

Medicos learn by observing. Our teachers used to always tell us to be like a sponge and absorb as much as you can. Interpreting images is a skill acquired by experience. No medical school curriculum can teach 100% all the possible images that one would be expected to interpret over a lifetime. They can and do teach the Process...the way to look at a medical image and decide, abnormal/normal first. Qualitative and then quantitative interpretation for the abnormality flows out as an impression. When we watch experienced clinicians look at a CT scan, xray, ecg, foetal monitor ctg or eeg and read it like the bible effortlessly, that makes us turn green with envy. When asked to teach a fresher on how that interpretation is done many a times the same clinician fails miserably :( We can walk but not necessarily know all the possible mechanisms which run in the background. The fact that only a few can be good Teachers, holds very true as to teach one must first know. The comes the difficult task of translating that into words that will explain it to another person. Work, Research and Teaching are a holy triumvirate and few have scaled this peak! Eye tracker can be a useful adjunt to analysze medical image interpretaion by a Consultant.

The technology is so small and sleek that Mercedes, BMW, Audi provide it as a nice addon to their higher range of cars. It sits snugly on the rear view mirror and monitors the drivers eyes. The moment he dozes, it warns visually and audibly to alert the driver.
What an idea sirji?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

spiritual satisfaction in old age home and mentoring

went back to the old age home where I run a charity clinic after a break of 18 months. how much one can do as a doctor if money is not part of the equation was/and is always evident there. every time I visit this home, I learn something new! saw a new patient whose daughter is a VP with a not all residents are abandoned :) after seeing a few a patients, doing one ecg and accepting a simple soup (again simple but delcious) left with pride in my heart. oh, yaah I donated my 6 year old PC to the home to be used as EMR holder in the Medical Centre. Joy of Giving week mission accomplished.

mentored a yound medic, who is where I was 19 years ago. Freshly minted coin with big dreams in the eyes and youth on ones side to move mountains but the world can be a harsh place to freshers. It is like being born again after 10 months of comfort in our mother's womb, thrust out into the cold, loud, strange world. Add to it the aura of being called a Dr and the expectations from all quarters to be successful and famous. It is prescription: do what you will enjoy doing everyday of your life, dont do things to satisfy anyone but you. Heard an inspiring speech from a Medic who decided to go and live amongst mountain people in Ooty and gets satisfaction in being the change in their lives. Was and will always be a big fan of Mother Teresa, who saw Jesus in all the filth and dirt of Calcutta...that is true worship and no wonder she is a saint.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

upload to brain?

The MMI field is new and old. Since the time we threw our first stone weapon to hunt for food 10k years ago we have started interacting. The difference in 2004 is machines are capable of intelligence. As compared to human brain (millions of years old) computers are still in the single cell stage. As the human brain has evolved it has nicely adapted itself to the changing environs. Brain senses five main inputs - light(vision), sound(hearing), chemical molecules in gas form (smell), taste (chemical molecules in liquid form) and touch (basic sensor input).

Light is perceived as presence/absence, tone, brighness and colour (frequency).

Data-information-knowledge that is how processing occurs.

If the data is exploding in size will the brain evolve to process this or just selectively filter the info and use it? We sense the world by vision (light), hearing (sound), smell (chemicals as gas), taste (chemicals as liquid) and touch (attributes of objects such as temperature, dimensions in 3D, size, etc.).

Predominantly vision is used to input data. Modern machines are using sight, hearing and some smell to present data.

Is the sensory end organs' data processing necessary for it to travel to the brain? Cochlear implants prove that it is not so. Can we improve the efficiency of data acquisition? Does the brain work better when cooled (as PCs do)? How does the brain learn? What is memory? Can we write and read from memory directly into the brain? Is magnetism a way to reach the brain non invasively and interact with it?

Is it possible to directly read/write to the human brain? Vision is the primary means of inputting data now. In ancient times hearing was the main means of data acquisition (in India). What is memory? What is the real world like when not interpretted through a human brain? Is the perception affecting our basic laws of science? Einsteins theory of relativity says time is relative to the observer. Is sense also relative to the observer?


Is it just the way nervous tissue reacts to death and degeneration? When the brain is deprived of glucose/oxygen it makes the animal go into tonic then clonic siezures. Is epilepsy a prinzmetal angina of the brain?

Reinforced neural circuitry which can involve vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. When a path is used more than once the neurons and glia adjust themselves and next time when the impulse arrives it flows easily through the learnt path. So repetition is a good way of imrpoving memory and it can be reinforced by other pathways. In fact one sense can revive another circuit and so when we smell a favourite food we get memories of past events. Memory and dreams are similar. Dreams are usually in monochrome and almost always involve vision. Hearing, occasionally and smell, taste, touch almost never. Though the brain is in a standby mode during sleep, it is receptive to input. When a subject is dreaming if input goes in through touch/smell the info is incorporated; vision, hearing and taste are not possible without waking the subject.

Addiction and the amygdala (pleasure point)
Addiction is a reinforced neural pathway involving the amygdala. All addictive behaviour such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling, serial killer, rapist, liar, arsonist can be explained by this theory. Frontal siganls predominate on initial exposure and hesitancy, refusal may occur. Once the frontal inhibition is crossed a neural path is set and that involves the amygdala. Next time the behaviour is reinforced by the amygdala and repetition assigns it to memory. The frontal signal is therefore suppressed and pure amygdala signals take over. That explians the loss of personality in addiction and tendency to ignore responsibilities and complete focus on achieving the stimulation. All other frontal activities are ignored and even basic survival impulse is ignored due to the strong amygdala response. It is a vicious cycle and the more it is done the more it reinforces itself. Now the treatment can target enhancing frontal and other signals or suppressing the amygdala using targetted magnetic suppression/ablation. What other purpose does the amygdala serve? Can it be completely removed in addcits? The result will be a person with no pleasure!


Can we conquer the final frontier - our brain?

Man looked in the heavens above and oceans below searching for God. He has always been with us in our brains. God is another emotion like happy, sad, angry, etc. On recurrent use the temporal lobe dominates over all other lobes and so makes a person deeply religious. It should be very difficult to wean such a person away from religion, theoretically atleast. Similarly an atheist should have a poorly developed TL.

I am trying to understand how my own Brain works and so far I am bamboozled!

But I will keep trying and hopefully in my lifetime crack this tough question. Met a guy from Finland who wants to study neurology to use in his study of international political relations. Study one brain to understand how so many brains work (or dont work) together, maybe he has a point...


is thinking a function of language; if there was no language will we think?

Is time a concept created by the brain? Analogy photo/cinema, are daily events which appear to move actually a series of still instances?

colour is what the brain perceives; there are no colours in realty.

Sound is waht the brain perceives; there are no sounds in realty. The Greek paradox of 'Will a tree falling in a forest make a noise if there is none to hear it?' vindicates this theory.