New technique manipulates brain activity to boost confidence

Tokyo, Dec 17 (IANS) Japanese scientists have in a breakthrough developed a new technique that can manipulate people’s brain activity to boosts their self-confidence, a finding that opens the potential treatments for conditions such as post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) and phobias.

The new technique called ‘Decoded Neurofeedback’ identifies brain activity linked to confidence and then amplifies it to a high confidence state.

For patients with PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease self confidence is an important aspect, which is often complicated by patients thinking negatively of their own capacities.

In the study, using this technique, participants’ brains were scanned to monitor and detect the occurrence of specific complex patterns of activity corresponding to high confidence states, while they performed a simple perceptual task.

Whenever the pattern of high confidence was detected, participants received a small monetary reward.

This experiment allowed researchers to directly boost one’s own confidence unconsciously, i.e. participants were unaware that such manipulation took place.

Importantly, the effect could be reversed, as confidence could also be decreased.

“By continuously pairing the occurrence of the highly confident state with a reward – a small amount of money – in real-time, we were able to do just that: when participants had to rate their confidence in the perceptual task at the end of the training, their were consistently more confident,” Aurelio Cortese from the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan.

The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

–IANS

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