Scientists Capture First Footage Ever Of A Thought Being Formed

Via Gizmodo, you can now truly see someone thinking:

A team of Japanese researchers has captured, for the first time ever, a movie which shows how thoughts form in the brain. OK, so it’s a thought forming in the brain of a zebrafish. But this is a fundamental leap forward in our understanding of how brains work.

The researchers used a new technique to record the footage: a super-sensitive fluorescent probe that detects neuron activity. We see neurons glowing when they’re active—and the cascade of light you see in this video is the neuronal response of a zebrafish responding to the presence of its prey.

, , , , ,

  • Kevin Leonard

    Is this really a “thought,” or just instinctual brain activity?

    • Calypso_1

      We would be hard pressed to make such a distinction in any organism. What would be considered thoughts could simply be the inclusion of memory and feedback loops with additional neuronal circuits.

      • Kevin Leonard

        Exactly.
        In mammals, we tend to look at the pre-fontal cortex as responsible for “thoughts” (need a definition). But even if were able to hook up such a device to record PFC activity, would it ever prove the brain as the originator of the thoughts?

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Well we can never prove without a shadow of doubt cause of anything. just that thought(whatever that means right?) and brain activity go hand in hand.

          What would be interesting though, is if we can link certain “patterns” of brain activity to certain “patterns” of thought. What more than that could you expect though? (I suppose a relevant question you could ask is, which comes first: the thought or the brain activity?)

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Well we can never prove without a shadow of doubt cause of anything. just that thought(whatever that means right?) and brain activity go hand in hand.

          What would be interesting though, is if we can link certain “patterns” of brain activity to certain “patterns” of thought. What more than that could you expect though? (I suppose a relevant question you could ask is, which comes first: the thought or the brain activity?)

          • Kevin Leonard

            That is the relevant question. The one that’s been behind my asking.

            Let’s say for a moment that we could measure activity in the PFC as is shown in the video. And we hook up the device to an advanced meditator – one as advanced as a Rudolf Steiner, for instance – who can make still the random activity of the brain, and who says he can “see” thoughts arriving before he actually has the thought, or rather, is conscious of its contents.

            He sees one coming. It is yet to appear on the screen. How is that verifiable? The moment he makes an action to indicate it, blips appear on on the screen. Really, the moment he makes conscious “oh there is a thought coming” (feedback loop), blips appear on the screen. (the stillness making the awareness possible is lost at that point, anyway)

            It’s almost like measuring position and velocity.

          • drokhole

            Somewhat off topic, but are there any books by Steiner you would recommend? Is there a “definitive” choice among them? I’m looking to buy one or two and kind of have an eye on “Intuitive Thinking As a Spiritual Path” and/or “How to Know Higher Worlds”.

            Somewhat on topic, I’m reminded of two recent interesting studies involving measuring brain activity as compared to experience. One was a psilocybin study that showed a decrease in brain activity with an increase of rich psychological experience (would that count as “thoughts”?):

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201210/psilocybin-and-brain-function

            And, another was about “psychic channelers” in Brazil who entered a state with a decrease of brain activity but an increase of creative output:

            http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/spirituality-brain-function-mediums-121116.htm

            So, in other words, I find it interesting but got nary a fucking clue what it indicates.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Thanks for the links. Very interesting. Conclusions seem fairly clear to me. They caution that the same patterns are found in people focused on a task… but don’t we say we “lose ourselves” in tasks? In my thought experiment above, I didn’t consider that there would be any blips on screen when we were in the realm of thoughts – “nous” – a short journey from/to the psychedelic realms.

            I’m no expert on Steiner. Most of my knowledge of his cosmology comes orally through another teacher. I’ve read a few of the books, but the problem is that they are interpretations, and sometimes interpretations of transcripts of lectures which were built upon earlier lectures. And often the translators didn’t quite carry the spirit of the teachings through the translations. And the language is sometimes archaic, as are many of the practices in the books, particularly if you have been involved with other traditions, or live in the city. And his vision was so broad… etc. I’ve generally found it easier to read books about Steiner and his philosophies rather than to read the teachings directly. http://www.rsarchive.org/Basics/
            There are some other good authors who are not listed there. Amazon.com perusing may be fruitful.

          • drokhole

            Thanks for the heads up!

  • Mick-Doscious

    If they introduced the presence (or simulated presence) of a known predator and the brain activity started lighting up…then it only makes sense that processes started forming in the brain to trigger activities such as fight or flight mode; which would make the brain light up. You wouldn’t be “hard pressed” to make the distinction of a brain at rest (slightly active) versus a brain stimulated by fear (highly active). Stop trying to be an internet scientist, because plainly put, you’re NOT.

    • Calypso_1

      Your reading of the article and its related research shows a poor grasp of the topic being presented, to say nothing of your interpretation of my comment.

      No predator was introduced. Prey was introduced.

      The neurons of the optic tectum were observed in response to the visual stimuli of prey. The optic tectum is involved in initiating eye tracking and motor response to the prey.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with ‘fight of flight’. The cascade of catecholamines in the CNS
      response of the HPA axis is primarily initiated in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus; the ensuing effect is on the SNS.
      Visual activation of the HPA involves feature detection.

      There is not a direct pathway to my knowledge that has been discovered between the optic tectum & the PVN.

      The optic tectum is involved in feature detection at a base level by detecting amplitude of stimuli.
      However, the processing occurs in a progression of neuronal hierarchies in the forebrain. This was not being observed.

      To clarify: The difficulty is in delineating the fundamental nature of ‘thought’ not in observing discrete changes in cell activity.

      To further clarify: If I were an internet scientist I would speak more on topics such as polynomial-time algorithms or packet switching. I can however provide some cross-over discussion from network theory into the oscillatory activity in neural ensembles.

    • Calypso_1

      Your reading of the article and its related research shows a poor grasp of the topic being presented, to say nothing of your interpretation of my comment.

      No predator was introduced. Prey was introduced.

      The neurons of the optic tectum were observed in response to the visual stimuli of prey. The optic tectum is involved in initiating eye tracking and motor response to the prey.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with ‘fight of flight’. The cascade of catecholamines in the CNS
      response of the HPA axis is primarily initiated in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus; the ensuing effect is on the SNS.
      Visual activation of the HPA involves feature detection.

      There is not a direct pathway to my knowledge that has been discovered between the optic tectum & the PVN.

      The optic tectum is involved in feature detection at a base level by detecting amplitude of stimuli.
      However, the processing occurs in a progression of neuronal hierarchies in the forebrain. This was not being observed.

      To clarify: The difficulty is in delineating the fundamental nature of ‘thought’ not in observing discrete changes in cell activity.

      To further clarify: If I were an internet scientist I would speak more on topics such as polynomial-time algorithms or packet switching. I can however provide some cross-over discussion from network theory into the oscillatory activity in neural ensembles.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    It looks like its simply responding to visual stimuli.

    • Calypso_1

      …as are approx 85% of all male “thoughts”.

  • JoiquimCouteau

    More like, “Scientists record phosphorescence emitted by fluorescent proteins upon depolarization of neurons”. Pretty, but doesn’t appear to tell us much.

    • Calypso_1

      It’s real time sample rate, in a living organism instead of the slide show approach of a sequence of tissue samples. Previously this had only been modeled by computers. Now models can be refined against observation.

      • JoiquimCouteau

        Right, but I’m pretty sure this has been done using optogenetics for years now. Maybe that’s what this is, I didn’t look into it.

      • JoiquimCouteau

        Right, but I’m pretty sure this has been done using optogenetics for years now. Maybe that’s what this is, I didn’t look into it.

        • Calypso_1

          That technique uses light to control neurons and requires stimulation implants. This was observable because of the translucency of the fish. The light was produced by genetically encoded fluorescent calcium indicators. I suppose you could do the same thing on a non-translucent organism if a portion of the cranium was removed or an optic probe was inserted. It offers some intriguing possibilities in future surgical techniques for identifying active neuronal circuits.