In this modern day, there are therapies to combat human fears and phobias. These fears prevent people from living to the fullest, and when extreme, can awfully affect the quality of life. For this reason, neuroscientists are now developing a method involving AI that will abolish different kinds of fear.
Neuroscientist Hakwan Lau and colleagues at Columbia University and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan claim in a press release
that fears can be erased without having to subject the patient to unpleasant processes.
They said with this AI technology, human brains can be manipulated in such a way that what it fears will be thought of as something rewarding instead. Meaning, negative connotations towards these things we fear will be replaced with positive perceptions.
They performed tests where they used this technique they call, "decoded neurofeedback," where participants were given electric shocks associated with an image of a red vertical line. Overt time, brain scans showed that participants find it scary every time they see the red color. The AI recorded this certain brain activity as a specific "pattern" for that fear towards that color.
The AI technology erases that fear by reprogramming this pattern of the brain. Every time the color of the line appears, the AI associates it with something rewarding.
"Whenever your brain is representing or 'thinking about' the red line, one of the scary things, we [tell the subject], 'Congratulations you won 10 cents,'" Lau explained in an interview. "So, now whenever the red thing happens, instead of being paired with the electric shock, now it's associated with a positive monetary reward."
It's a simple, yet amusing technique. But I wonder what happened to the participants. Hope they're still sane.
According to experts, humans have similar brain patterns towards specific fears. For example, people with Arachnophobia, shows same brain pattern for that fear. If experts will be able to build a "library" of fear patterns, it will be easier and faster to cure people with mental disorders which roots are fear such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This technology is a milestone for science! A really great help, especially nowadays because of those scary clowns who had surely caused trauma to tons of kids.