The Brain Technology - The Power of Visuals and AI Technology in Our Brains
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Our Brains speaks about the future to ourselves.
What we see speaks to our brains. We can decode images and visual content much more faster than listening or even touching something.
Visual content can influence not only our learning, but determine our behaviour and eventually our future as a race.
For Hundreds of years mankind is trying to decode the human brain, not only to understand, but to treat and aid. Some researches goes further, on the level of control and discipline.
During 1400's Leonardo Da Vinci created anatomical drawings of the human body and brain, as a new approach to art and science, he made earlier brain drawings, including drawings of his own studies of the skull, brain and cerebral ventricles. These works reflects his efforts in trying to understand medieval psychology, including the localisation of sensory and motor functions. He was the first to identify the olfactory nerve as a cranial nerve. His astonishing approach to art and science, made by the visuals of drawings of the brain, are one of the earliest survival anatomical drawings of human kind, making one of the first recorded instance for medical science.
In April 2022, a prominent vascular surgeon, also a Da Vinci fan, pointed out that a painting from 1603 - The Battle of Anghiari - shows a three-dimensional image of the brain hidden within the copy of the original lost artwork. He thoroughly noted the similarities and presented his evidence which was published to the Neuroscientist paper.
"It appears that Leonardo was trying to determine how the image of the brain could be reflected in the battle scene" - he wrote.
Despite so many tries and studies. The human brain inspired scientists and artists throughout many different eras. And still there’s no formula to decode entirely the human brain, but there is a high level of researches and understanding about Today, thanks for all those who had the curiosity of studying about it, which led us to some pretty astonishing discoveries. There are ways to train the brain and even in changing it to our own benefit. Our brain is changeable, it creates perceptions of the world, these perceptions will shape the way we live our lives, the companies we choose to keep, the misfortunes, or fortunes we come to experience in life as also what will shape our future. Everything is malleable as we are.
Helen Thomson, a science writer, that spent years travelling the world tracking down incredibly rare brain disorders. Wrote: “Do you want to know what is to hallucinate? Cut a ping-pong ball in half and tape each side over your eyes. Sit in a evenly-lit room, listen to some white noise and wait twenty minutes. When we minimise the sensory information entering our brain, it begins to create its own reality. These hallucinations are what scientists think form the basis of our normal perception of the world. On her book she told the story of nine extraordinary people. From the man who thinks he is a tiger, to the doctor who feels the pains of others just by looking at them, their experiences illustrate how the brain can shape our lives in unexpected and, in some cases, brilliant and alarming ways.”
The brain is known to be the most complex organ of the human body, it contains more than 100 billions nerve cells and neurons. Our brain structure is shaped by genes, but largely by experience alone. On living life, we also know that our brains bursts and growth, new brain cells are born, in a process called ‘neurogenesis’. The most notable bursts are in the first two or three years of life, also during puberty, and a final burst during young adulthood.
The neurons in our brains communicate in a variety of ways, this communication promote signals between them by the release and capture of neurotransmitter and neuromodulator chemicals – natural bursts – such as the release of glutamine (which helps synthesize protein in the human body for nutrition – helping the entire body to boost immune response), dopamine (which helps with feeling pleasure, comfort, motivation and learning – the happy neurotransmitter self-made in the brain – it is our own rewarding system), acetylcholine (which is classified as a very important neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in the normal function of the brain and our entire bodies – It is the chief of neurotransmitters of the parasympathetic nervous system – it is known to play an important role in memory, thinking and learning), noradrenaline (it is our ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the brain - is part of our sympathetic nervous system - part of our body emergency system and response to situations of danger), serotonin (it regulates our mood, happiness and low depression- it’s a neurotransmitter modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes, including vomiting) and endorphins (The brain’s natural pain reliever – lowering stress and creating a feeling of well-being – this neurotransmitter are increased while our bodies are engaged on certain activities, such as sex, exercise, playing music, laughter, or using ultraviolet light – simply spending time outdoors in the sun).
Cognition means – The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding process of cognition. Is simply the mental action process of understanding through thought, experience and sense, while acquiring knowledge through it.
The impact of technology and internet in modern society, across multiple aspects, affects our lives and ways we experience and learn things. Eventually changing our brains, the ways we respond to it and our own behaviour. The reality vs virtual experiences, does have an impact on our brains that still being studied. Attention, memory, social cognition, including self-esteem and brain stimulation are involved.
The internet is the most widespread and rapidly adopted technology in the history of mankind. The use of this technology across the globe has introduced for many, the necessity and opportunity to learn a myriad of new skills and ways to interact in society, which brings with it neural changes. The full impact that this new channel for connection, information, communication and screen time is having on our lives and our brains, including our cognitive functions still unknown.
Some studies have shown that adopting a less engaging life style across the lifespan may alternate in loss or gain of cognitive function. What these types of studies shown, is that disengaging from the real world in favour of virtual settings may similarly induce adverse neurocognitive changes. This raises the possibility that various types of internet usage could differentially affect the brain and cognitive processes – in both, adverse and beneficial ways. It literally explores the idea that, what you watch, do, or like to explore online, if your brain is not totally healthy, it most likely will influence the way you rapidly 'learn' things, in an augmentative way, and how your brain develops in between. Consecutively helping your body taking decisions, or overreact to it. And if the content is toxic, it will most likely to influence an individual in a bad way. Including changing behaviour and patterns of thoughts.
Although the internet exists for quite a while now. Only recently, emerging studies and the possibility of research, started leading a substantial body of investigation to the multiple potential pathways through which the internet could affect our brains structure, function and cognitive development. A balance between virtual and real world needs to be created. So when an individual have the possibility of experiencing real activity and explore the world by living life with family and friends it is important to unplug from internet stimulus and experience real physical forms of contact, such as sports or simply deciding what to eat in a restaurant while discussing the menu. And while we may think that young children and teenagers can be most affected by internet exposure. A study from The Ohio State University, reported that highly educated and employed young to middle-aged adults in highly demanding professions also represent a major portion of affected people by excess of internet use.
In 2021 the social media platform Instagram decided to suppress likes in an effort to curb the comparisons and hurt feelings associated with attaching popularity to sharing content. A PHD psychologist at McLean Hospital, Dr Jacqueline Sperling , who works with youth who experience anxiety disorder’s voiced about Instagram’s decision by saying: “Even if you remove the likes, there continue to be opportunities for comparisons and feedback. People still can compare themselves to others, and people still can post comments”. What is known is that social media has a reinforcing nature of ‘virtually rewarding’ individuals. And in using it, it does activates the brain’s reward centre by releasing dopamine linked to real life activities such as sex, food and social interaction. The platforms itself has a design associated with anxiety, depression an even physical ailments, related to shame, remorse, regret and even stomach aches. So internet and social networks can and are using technology to influence the brain, and behaviour, such as natural human reactions in reality, including in influencing mental illness.
What was proved is that, what makes users comes back for more even when it makes them feel ‘sick’ is, “when the outcome is unpredictable, the behaviour is more likely to repeat. Think of a slot machine: if game players knew they never were going to get money by playing the game, then they never would play”, Dr Sperling says.
“The idea of potential future rewards keeps the machine in use. The same goes for social media sites. One does not know how many likes a picture will get, who will ‘like’ the picture, and when the picture will receive likes. The unknown outcome and the possibility of a desired outcome can keep users engaged with the sites.”
The earlier children start using “social media” the greater impacts platforms have on mental health. This is especially true for females. While teen males tend to express physical aggression, females do so relationally by excluding others and sharing harmful comments and toxic online interactions, such as hate, or shameful pictures of ‘friends’ or celebrities.
‘Show me who you are by the pictures you take of me and share with others on social media, is basically a truthful statement. Which nowadays still very hard to monitor or even depending on the content that's circulated, to delete.' - As soon as it reaches the internet it can be said, it stays forever.
Pictures are ways of communication. It can hurt people as much as lift them in greater ways. Today we know how strong pictures are for the brain and how it influences our whole body and behaviour.
“It’s a very vulnerable population to have access to something where there is no stopgap before they post or press the send button. I think that’s something of which to be mindful.” – Dr Sperling
Recent studies proved that visuals are far more powerful drivers of brain engagement than any other tool, such as texts. Our brains were built for visual information. Where 90% of information processed is visual, it takes 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image. When 80% of people remember what they see, compared to ten percent what they hear and 20% what they read. Which means 80% of people will watch a picture-video against 20% of people who will actually read about what they are or will watch. We aren’t great listeners either. Only 10% of people will remember what they hear after three days later and 65% will remember if the information of what they hear is paired with images. More than 95 million pictures are shared daily on Instagram only. People are 85% more likely inclined to buy a product after viewing the video. – Reported on Movable Ink’s 2022 Audience Of One consumer report.
“When people rely on technology to remember something for them, they’re essentially outsourcing their memory” - said Linda Henkel, Fairfield University psychological professor – “They know their camera is capturing that moment for them, so they don’t pay full attention to it in a way that might help them to remember. ( If your brain doesn’t ‘workout’, your body and development will suffer). Especially, the process of taking a photograph, which is ‘focusing on the focusing’, the composition, the lighting, the subject, the background and so on, it takes up all the cognitive resources that would otherwise enable the brain to encode the memory bank itself.
“If you are distracted, you may have a photograph to prove you were there, but your brain may not remember”, explains Elizabeth Loftus, psychological science professor at the University of California, Irvine.
On August 23 this year (2022) a man has died after falling from a peak in the Austrian Alps as he was trying to take a photo of a companion with whom he had reached the summit, police said it was a 77- year-old German and his companion a 63 - year-old Spanish woman. The couple hiked a peak about 2.870 meters (9.400 feet) above sea level, on the Austrian-Swiss border. On the police report, it says he failed to notice that he was already at the edge of the cliff when tried to step further back to take a picture of the woman. Falling to his death.
The Brain couldn't properly register to remember its surroundings. It was fatal.
One of the greatest example of the power of images in our brains is the reflection it does on the market. The success of a company for example that emerged as one of the most powerful companies in the world in the oil industry, and eventually transitioning its business to the pictures industry, and keeping on the top of its business as one of the wealthiest, is Getty images.
Getty Images Today is valued at 4.8 Billion on the market.
Images does count while making business, specially virtually. But who is paying the price ?
Children and our own brains are. The human brain is like a picture processor machine. The younger you are, more vulnerable you are.
There’s a science in why our brains love to process virtual and visual content since the date of our birth, and articles written alone vs articles with pictures shown that articles without any image receive less than 94% percent views than if published with a picture.
According to neuroscientist Andrew Tate, the visual cortex at the back of our brains, process our visual information, and then sends that information out to almost all other areas of the brain, where it is combined with our sensory information, retained in memory, or used to recall something once remembered.
What this means is that our brains are particularly adept to processing visual information – tied to the fact that 70% of all our sensory receptors are in our eyes. For most of us, sight is the primary way we all navigate the world. And the brain can get tricked if not focusing at the right spaces visually. Such as forgetting that giving few steps back on a cliff edge it can lead to our own death. The sense of danger is blocked out when the eyes are telling the brain to focus on something else.
Researching on the sensory development of babies has even found that from the first moment we open our eyes, our brains start processing and understanding shapes and visuals. In fact faces are something, we humans, are hardwired with, hence the reason people choose pictures first, and read later. To say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ may sounds cliché, but it does prove its point with science. Visuals stays on our long-term memory. According to the visual teaching alliance, the brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds. Our eyes can also register 36,000 visual messages per hour, and in all the information we capture, 90% of it is transmitted to the brain if it is visual.
It is also known that visual cues triggers emotions. Causing, faster and stronger reactions than words. And such emotional reactions, influence on information retention. This is because the visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the same place where emotions are processed. Our brains are set up in a way that visual stimuli and emotional response is easily linked, and together the two form memories.
Negative visual depictions are particularly useful for leaving a strong emotional impression.
Dr Sperling acknowledge that social media platforms have positive aspects such helping individuals to keep in touch with family and friends, but she also highlight its pitfalls. She also highlights that the social media platforms have opened a “Pandora’s box’, as they continue to evolve more quickly than we can research their impact on people’s lives, and especially on children.
A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study suggests that learning to self-monitoring your own self while using social media can change one’s perception of social media.
The study’s researchers looked at 143 undergraduates randomly assigned to wo groups. The first set was asked to limit Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to ten minutes per platform per day, while the second was asked to continue to use their social media as usual for three weeks.
The limited group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression during those three weeks over the group that continued using social media.
“Parent’s frequency of electronics use can set the tone for what is permissible to their children. If you want your children to put their phone down at dinner, that will be more likely to happen if you do the same.” – Dr. Jacqueline Sperling
Sperling remind parents to tell kids that ‘a good friend would find way to spend time with them'. – Published on January 21, 2022.
Study author Paul Veugelers, PhD, a professor of public health at the University of Alberta said that effect of these lifestyle behaviours on academic performance was “substantial”.
‘There’s plenty of research suggesting that the type of activity, the content, and social context all matter” – for example, there’s a difference between screen time while playing a dance game on wii, watching an educational movie or video about how to play a video game or building a furniture, as also researching something online for a school report, than only focusing on ‘social likes’, ‘taking a selfie’ or only scrolling alone on social media.
Developing health screen habits is essential. None of the studies says ‘internet ‘ should be banned ultimately, but that quality internet time and limited social media ‘likes’ and scrolling time should be in practice. Researches shown that children who had lass than 2 hours of screen time, had enough sleep, and got a recommended amount of physical exercise had “superior global cognition” compared to those who did not have these lifestyle habits.
Screens are here to stay, we must need to find a way to use them for good and to explore quality time while spending time using them is primordial.
Potential harmful effects of extensive screen time and technology use include heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, other forms of addictions, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep.
Our societies are designed to be connected nowadays, compared to a disconnected society few years ago. In consequence to this change, the bombardment of pictures that are directed to us are also directed intensely to our own brains, giving social networks even more power, making our brains change, which includes our behaviour towards one another and our own body. It affects everything in our lives, from personal choices to how we consume and live as human beings, including what we eat on a day and how much we spend taking care of our own well-being, such as sleeping and sharing physical love with our own loved ones, practice sports, keep motivated and positive. Affecting mental health.
Social media, and internet, have a greater power than it was previously thought. Images displayed there is part of most of its power of content input in our brains. And images do have the power to control our thinking.
Our brains are natural machines that controls our entire body and it is so powerful, that it was proved that even if we cannot move a single part of our body alone, our brains can still working signalling information of movements.
In May this year, a company called Synchron, launched a number of tests for its new product, a brain-computer interface (BCI), developed as an electronic device to be implanted in aiding the brain to communicate with the external world through Bluetooth.
This technology led the researches that aims to help people especially with paralysis to control their body, it is a brain-computer interface that enable people to control electronic devices only with their minds (by thinking).
This is not science fiction, it is already reality. On the top of that information, Synchron also developed the implant, to be placed in the jugular vein, the device itself doesn’t require invasive brain surgery for insertion either, and it doesn’t need necessarily to directly sit on the brain to work. The neural implant that can be delivered to the brain via catheter, without any need for an open brain surgery is revolutionising with its approach to communication and in decoding our brain's thoughts, behaviours and creations. The sensors are placed immediately adjacent to the control centre in the brain, a region called motor cortex. These sensors have the ability to convert thoughts in to electric signals that are sent through the vein to a device under the skin of the person’s chest. This device continuously receive brain signals and transmits them to an external computer, creating a connection between humans and machine, making it possible to a person to control it by using only their own thoughts.
One of the biggest challenges researches had throughout time, is to elucidate the role of visual cortex to motor cortex, leading to visual motor control.
Visual perception for example, provides children with a base on their cognitive activities to adapt and control their behaviours, as also writing. The visual system feeds itself back. Daily behaviours are controlled by the perception -movement link that is formed with the information coming from movement and optic receptors. Visual perception information reveals whether there is a safe environment for movement and leads to perception which is necessary to realise actions in a certain order. In the development of skills such as grasping, leaving, throwing, cutting, and drawing, visual perception development plays a major role together with small motor development.
Some experts predict that by the year of 2050, computers will have the capacity to store all of the information contained in the human brain. We have lived through a period of intense technological development in the last half century. Plenty of technological developments have come from copying the attributes of animals. Researchers at a company called Open AI have created a software that is able to create images from just worded prompts.
This technology known as Dall-E is now its second iteration and the team behind it plans to continue developing further. In the future, we could see this technology used to many different visual contexts, especially in the building of original illustrations and aiding humans.
In 2021, Israeli surgeons implanted the world’s first artificial cornea into a bilaterally blind, 78-year-old man. Likewise in 2020, Belgian scientists developed an artificial iris fitted to smart contact lenses that correct a number of vision disorders. All these technologies have the ability to improve brain development if used wisely. Works of scientists from the University of Bath in United Kingdom found a way to attach artificial neurons onto silicon chips, mimicking the neurons in our nervous system and copying their electrical properties. Their work is wider than nature, as their researches hope to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive condition that starts in the brain, it develop gradually over many years, until it becomes severe. One of the most pervasive diseases in the brain. A type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. Symptoms grows so severely that it damages the brain to the point of debilitating a person body completely.
Problems with Visuomotor ability is one of the first characteristics of early Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s (Pre-AD) present nonimpaired cognition. Proving that Visuomotor dysfunction is one of the sensitive marker of Pre-AD, one of the most evasive brain’s diseases. A person with Alzheimer’s disease can start developing the disease even thirty years earlier than showing any major symptoms.
A large percentage of the human brain dedicates itself to visual processing. Our love of images lies with our cognition and ability to pay attention. The brain’s orienting network selects important, behaviourally relevant information from what we see mostly, much more than what we hear or touch – this is why our brains love pictures. It’s food. An is therefore vital to communication, command, desire and intuition, as also developing learning abilities and intellect.
Advance visualisation has the potential ability to improve or decay intellect and productivity.
Amy Herman wrote: “Distractions are making us dumber (…) Our perpetual byte-sized interactions are not only a detriment to our concentration, focus, productivity, and personal safety, but they’re also hurting our intelligence.”
A 2005 study at King’s College found that when distracted, workers suffered a 10 to 15 point IQ loss – a greater dumbing down than experienced when smoking marijuana. A 15-point deficiency takes an adult male down to the same IQ level as an 8-year-old child.
For 14 years, Amy Herman has been providing leadership training to top officers in the United States military, law enforcement, medicine, education and industry. She is also the founder of ‘The Art of Perception’, as NY based organisation that conduct professional developments to leaders around the world, which includes, the FBI, CIA, Scotland Yard, and the The Peace Corps. Amy is an art historian and attorney, with BA in International Affairs, she is specialised in training secret service agents to church fundraisers. Her book Visual Intelligence – Sharpen your perception, Change your life – Is a book about visual intelligence, where she explores what it is in our Digital Age to be competing for attention more than ever before and the effects it brings in our brains. Including how it affects our perception and consecutively safety and how the stream of steady fast technology can overwhelm us with stress. She also highlights how important it is to learn to slow down on over bombardment of images and information into the brain to not speed swift our brains with different media streaming without a break and time. Slowing down just a little can change a lot. To get our own brains and eyes in good shape. We are going to take advice of scientists and psychologists. Use arts to exercise what do we see and explore our abilities to unlock our own potential. The brain naturally needs time to do all that. Eventually while looking into an image time enough. More questions are raised and in raising questions, more answers too are explored. The longer we look, is how we know we are going deeper than just a glance, how we know we are not just seeing an image alone, but observing. It’s an elementary skill your mind can master. And the results - It’s visual intelligence.
Quality online and using pocket sized visual technologies that stimulates the brain with great power to control behaviours, should be monitored, especially when used by children and young adolescents. Our future will be molded by what they see Today and in which manner they will share visual content while connected on social media networks. It shapes the individual character, manners and social and individual ability to become resilient, care, respect and eventually intellect and well-being.
The future is already shaped by what we see in virtual pictures.
We have the power to control what we keep dangerous or safe to the wide population on the internet. It's never too late to step forward and learn different ways of exploring our brains and experiencing life, as also sharing positive contents and less toxic and hurtful social media activities.