Story image

Researchers use brain-scanning tech to ‘read’ students’ brains

02 Aug 2016

Yes you read right. What if we could read students’ brains and see what they’re thinking?

Regardless of whether you find the idea brilliant or a tad off-putting, the technology has been put in place and the wheels are in motion. The paper, ‘Hidden Patterns of Cognition Revealed in Patterns of Brain Activation’ was recently published by Carnegie Mellon University’s John R. Anderson, Aryn Pyke and Jon M. Fincham.

Essentially, they’re using brain-imaging techniques to clarify the various mental stages that humans go through whilst solving math problems. Next up, they’re able to use machine-learning algorithms to find the connections between the patterns inside students’ heads and patterns in the data generated by students as they interact with math software. Using this information, the researchers hope to be able to develop better educational software that can quickly detect how a student is attempting to solve a provided problem, then respond in a personalised way.

For example, a student may be doing their best to solve a problem by throwing a number of random calculations at it in an attempt to get the right answer, rather than by developing a formula. This intuitive software could recognise the student’s floundering and then step in by perhaps redirecting the student to problems with built in techniques to help them learn how to develop the necessary formula.

Positive progress, but still a way to go

John Anderson affirms that at the moment they’re limited to measuring exactly how much time students are spending on a particular problem. However, in time he believes they will be able to identify each arithmetic calculation the brain is occupied in, and possibly even the specific numbers floating through the student’s head.

When asked in an interview  if leveraging the power to see into a student’s mind to build better software is in fact a good thing, Anderson say that technology can always be misused.

"But so many educational interactions now are characterised by a teacher or software not understanding what students are really trying to do. I think many students would be only too happy to have some means of communicating what they're doing,” Anderson concludes.

This Iron Man drone wants you to fly like a superhero
Iron Man must be one of the most popular superheroes of 2019 – because this year he has been transformed into a robot, and now he’s styled as his very own drone.
HP back on board with Emirates Team NZ
HP 3D print technology will supposedly help the team innovate at speed.
Do you use the Peel Smart Remote app? Delete or update it now
Peel Smart Remote could leak your personal pictures, information, and documents to an unknown server.
How printing solutions can help save the planet
Y Soft has identified five key ways organisations can become more economical and reduce their environmental impact.
Information is power when choosing electricity plans
While 90% of respondents knew their average power bill over the summertime, more than half didn’t know their kilowatt hour (kWh) price, or their monthly usage amount. 
A quick look at Haier & LG's take on the smart home revolution
Haier is going all-in on the smart home revolution – and it believes your home should be smart all the way from the laundry to the bedroom.
An 8K TV for $80,000? Samsung has you covered
8K televisions have landed in New Zealand, but they come with eye-watering price tags of up to $80,000.
Scammers targeting more countries in sextortion scam - ESET
The attacker in the email claims they have hacked the intended victim's device, and have recorded the person while watching pornographic content.