Up until now, scientists couldn’t do that much with an fMRI besides sniff out liars.
Well all that just changed, in a big way.
A team lead by Yale researchers has not only found a new use for it, but delved right into the scary and unfair depths of The Biological “Self”.
Their scanner + human connectome big-data invention is nothing short of a digital Sorting Hat, like in the Harry Potter movies.
-Oh yeah, (much like the 2012 work by WUMinn) it can also figure out +/- exactly how smart you are.
What their tool does is to sniff out the patterns among many brain-types and find both uniqueness in the 126 tested individuals and commonalities in larger HCP groups to compare and then return a likely prediction on several of your brain characteristics.
[“Inception” horn of doom] -And this is just the first version.
The problem with this system, which will very likely be implemented, is that it may remove thinking and individual-interpretation from people like hiring-managers and admissions-officers.
Why waste time putting together a mosaic of small pieces of information to form a holistic sketch of any potential candidate, when you can just stop wasting all that time actually “thinking”, and just let a computer do it for you with the antiseptic-reassurance of statistical confidence-intervals?
Yale’s system can already pick out a single, individual brain’s “fingerprint” out of many hundreds with 98%+ accuracy.
It can also identify:
1) The brain regions used during tasks & intelligence-tests,
2) How intensely they’re being used, and
3) What other brain regions they’re connecting-to during each process.
-Which is what brought the researchers to the Intelligence Measurement.
Those patterns they mapped during rest, questioning & testing? -The researchers found quite-surprisingly out of 268 total targets in 10 networks, just two (2) sets of regions were very highly correlated with fluid-intelligence.
They were the fronto-parietal & medial-frontal regions.
And using one scan, and comparing it to the 1200 previous ones , they can pretty-much tell you how smart you are. And a few versions later? Forget the “pretty-much”.
Your scan will be more accurate than your IQ test. Nature over nurture.
Another one of the problems with this, depending on how it’s used, will be to assume that a given subject Is, or Will-almost-certainly-become what their scan says they are. -Just like Minority Report.
Because the scans can or will be able to predict impulsiveness, comprehension, personality, or even potential psych-disorders. Hello, Mr. Sorting-Hat!
Given human nature being what it is for most civilians. It’s easier to take the word of a computer instead of thinking or being compassionate.
Any co-regulating factors like self-control, personal psych, optimism, hope, etc. will probably be ignored.
-Which would be hilarious, in the case of James Fallon, (not That Jimmy Fallon) the psychologist who found out in another experiment that he had the exact brain-scan of a psychopath.
The kicker of-course, is that Dr. Fallon was not an actual psychopath in real-life.
Barring James’s shining example of self-over-biology, most people’s only hope in the face of the machine will be hard-won, long-term self-improvement and Neuroplasticity.
But just think of it. If they can assess both brain-type and brain-power, irrespective of hard work and personal-psychology & temperment, the Status-mongering that may/will result from these scans in the future may end up creating an entirely new underclass.
Want a job at Google? Just have a look at the “Job Interview” in the movie, “Gattaca”, or the behavioral-forecasting of “Minority Report”. It is entirely-possible the scan IS the interview. Anything after that will just be considered on-the-job-training.
Furthermore, if for-example, your only path of forward-advancement is working for other people, how do you escape your genetics & your environment if you don’t come from a family of improvisational-geniuses?
Now, some of the team-members say that the scans can & should be used to identify problem-areas early, so that they can be treated before they become full, Amanda-Bynesian-Scale Train Wrecks.
Others still cite the possibility that such scans will prove that neurogenesis is in-fact possible & sort out which brain-training-regimens actually do work and raise IQ, inter-connectedness, idea-combination, conceptual-improvisation, and fluid-intelligence.
-So there are at-least a few glimmers of hope. Maybe.
But I’m not sure we can trust the way these things have historically been used.
And to that end, it seems there is no way this won’t be mandatory at some point. Someone will have required it. Wherever/whenever it happens. Even if it’s instituted at the state-education level. Grade-school, High-school, College. Any institution with the resources and intent will implement this filter.
So then, neurology or even genetic-neurology + early-environment == Destiny?
All of which is sad. Because whatever happened to hard work, persistence, grit, personal choice, and good old-fashioned Hustle conquering all?
Even the character Headmaster Dumbledore himself said to Harry Potter when he asked about potentially being put into the bad-guys-club of Slytherin by the sorting hat:
“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”
JUMP BONUS!: The movie Scene in-question.
Publicity poster, “The Man: His Cell”, and Job Interview Intro clip from the movie, “Gattaca” by Andrew Niccol, Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Gail Lyon, Jersey Films, and Columbia Pictures, via Fandango Movieclips
Fronto-Parietal brain networks activity-hotspot diagram by, Emily S Finn, Xilin Shen, Dustin Scheinost, Monica D Rosenberg, Jessica Huang, Marvin M Chun, Xenophon Papademetris, & R Todd Constable
“Inception Cat”, video by YouTube user, spederson7, with “Mind Heist” music from the movie, “Inception” by Hans Zimmer, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, and Warner Bros. Pictures
“It is our choices”, clip from the movie, “Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets”, by J.K. Rowling, Chris Columbus, David Heyman, Steve Kloves, Heyday Films, 1492 Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures
• Source: Yale-Brain Fingerprints
• via: Wired
• More Coverage: PBS
• Source Study: Nature-Functional connectome fingerprinting: identifying individuals using patterns of brain connectivity | [PDF]