According to a new study, a person’s brain patterns could be modified and his performances improved just by watching a computer screen. A new learning  method was discovered by scientists that uses decoded MRI imaging to modify brain performance. This method could also be used to help patients recuperate from different types of injuries or accidents or even learn a foreign language of fly an airplane. The study was published on December 8 in the journal Science.

The study, conducted at Boston University and  ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan has proven that using a patient’s visual cortex, scientists can induce brain activity patterns to match a state that was previously known and thereby enhance visual performance

Just imagine a person looking at a computer screen and modifying his brain patterns to match a sportsman or recuperate from spinal injury. Although scientists are not there yet, they suggest that such possibilities may soon be reality.

Scientists have discovered that pictures are gradually filled in a person’s brain,  appearing at the beginning as lines then edges, shapes, different colors and motion in early visual areas. The images are then filled in with more details making a blue pyramid appear as a blue pyramid for example. Scientists analyzed the early formation of different early visual areas, to observe their ability to improve learning and visual performance.

Previous research established a link between changes in early visual areas and improved visual performance while other studies evidentiated a link between higher visual areas and decision areas. No study has proven so far that early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.

Post-doctoral fellow Kazuhisa Shibata created a method using decoded Functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback to determine a certain activation pattern in targeted early visual areas that were linked to a pattern evoked by a specific visual feature in a desired region of the brain. Scientists then tested to see if repeation the activation pattern led to visual performance improvement. The result was a new learning method, effective enough to cause long-term improvements in tasks that are based on visual performance. The really surprising thing is that the test person was not aware of what he was actually learning.

Currently the decoded neurofeedback learning method might be used for different types of learning such as memory, motor and rehabilitation.