5 Bizarre Ways Brain Scans Can Predict the Future

#2. The Likelihood of Your Party Animalism


Scientists at UC San Diego have done some comprehensive brain scans on teenagers and discovered something amazing: They all like masturbation and don't have very good taste. (Which might be why they're all reading Cracked. Hi, dudes! Radical! Uh ... skateboarding!)

Oh, and it also managed to suss out exactly which ones were going to become heavy drinkers in a few years. We guess that's pretty important too.

For instance, this man's children will most definitely resort to booze.

Yes, the brains of adolescents who would later engage in regular binge drinking actually had different activity patterns than those of their peers -- and well before the drinking ever started.

The experiment was conducted over a period of three years, wherein scientists gathered a group of 12-year-olds and began conducting MRIs on them. We'd love to know the exact wording of this request -- the one that convinced a whole bunch of parents to enroll their children in a long-term study regarding whether or not their brains put them at risk for a crippling addiction. We assume it started with approaching new parents and suavely whispering, "You guys look like you like to party ..."

"The crushing, inescapable urge to mask my shortcomings with vodka."

The actual experiment had the children working on a memory challenge while the MRI scan was being conducted. The researchers would flash a set of dots, wait for a little bit, then flash the set again and quiz the kids on the differences in color. The adolescents who would later engage in binge drinking showed less activity in the frontal and parietal regions of their brains (the areas associated with executive functions like problem solving) -- which is what you'd expect, right? The duller children fall victim to vice and addiction earlier. But that's not what's happening here. After three years, those same teenagers showed increasing activity in those regions, when decreasing brain activity over time is the norm.

In other words, something was turning on in their brains that didn't turn on in the normal kids, and that something may have some sort of correlation to their drinking later in life. Although keep in mind, this isn't necessarily alcoholism we're talking about here -- this is just episodic binge drinking (i.e. consuming five or more drinks in one sitting). As long as these kids aren't pulling a Leaving Las Vegas in their early 20s, we're going to go ahead and say that mysterious increase in brain activity is just their Party Lobe powering up like a Super-Saiyan in preparation for college.

#1. Artificially Generating a Sixth Sense


When we see things, it takes a few seconds for us to consciously understand what that thing is, exactly. There is a very short period of time between the brain receiving an image and the brain processing said image in a meaningful fashion. For the most part, it doesn't matter: You might open the fridge and stand perplexed for a moment, wondering what the frig this oblong white container is before recognizing that it's yogurt and putting it back in disgust. But whenever we see something dangerous, it sends out the P300 brainwave (you remember; the terrorist wave from earlier.)

Tracking that wave can mean something substantially more important than spotting yogurt before some accidentally gets in your mouth. If only there was some way to speed the image-to-danger-recognition process up, our soldiers could spot threats instantly and effectively gain superpowers.

"Either Al Qaeda's behind that hill ... or I've got a sinus headache."

And that's exactly what DARPA did. Meet Sentinel, which stands for "SystEm for Notification of Threats Inspired by Neurally Enabled Learning." Sentinel is the working designation for a pair of "cognitive-neural binoculars." This sounds like Star Trek gibberish at first, but the description is actually pretty accurate: When you put on a Sentinel rig and scan a battlefield, anything your brain registers as dangerous instantly triggers a series of flashing lights. Never again will one of our brave soldiers comically double-take over an enemy sniper pointing a barrel of death right at him. Because, technically speaking, his brain knows that threat is there well before his uh ... brain ... realizes it, we guess?

Whatever. All that matters is that it really works. When they tested Sentinel against regular ol' stupid binoculars, the Sentinel soldiers found 30 percent more threats on the battlefield. That's right: They were a full third more likely to sense imminent danger than a normal, unassisted human being. That's friggin' Spidey Sense!

"Psychic? Oh, no, I'm just getting a migraine. The gestures are exactly the same -- it can't be helped."

Now, if we could just get DARPA to fund our Military Web Shooters and Pun Generation Mouthpiece, we could have Battle Spider-Men deployed within the decade.

Agneeth can be contacted at Agneeth152@gmail.com. XJ is an aspiring cyborg, and in his free-time he talks about the adventures of writing on his blog. Also, he'll love you for a whole minute if you follow him on Twitter.

For more ways the future is upon us, check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building and 6 Sci-Fi Technologies You'll Soon Have on Your Phone.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Science Fictions We Really Just Built.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why you're already a binge-drinking alcoholic.

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