Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms demos an amazing new way to use fMRI to show brain activity while it is happening — emotion, body movement, pain. (In other words, you can literally see how you feel.) The applications for real-time fMRIs start with chronic pain control and range into the realm of science fiction, but this technology is very real.


  1. #1 anon
    April 11, 2008

    I think it’s necessary to add some context to this clip. deCharms owns a company, Omneuron (, that is looking to profit from the technology he is showing. While the technology is real, he’s definitely overplaying the originality and significance of his work. For example, most commercial MRI scanners already have a built in system that can display fMRI results from simple studies with a delay of less than 5s. His system probably allows slightly more complex study designs with perhaps a slightly shorter delay and allows the person in the scanner to see the results. This is a cool trick, but has yet to show definitive clinical benefits. He hints at one benefit, but I’ll wait until the clinical study that compares it to EEG based biofeedback or other standard treatments is released.

    I don’t want to downplay that this is something interesting and potentially useful, but since the clip was essentially a sale pitch, I felt that context might be relevant to people viewing it here.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 11, 2008

    That is not uncommon with the TED talks.

  3. #3 anon
    April 11, 2008

    Most of the clips I’ve seen at least include who the person is and what they do. Like I tried to say, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the talk, but people who view it might appreciate more context.

  4. #4 Homer
    April 11, 2008

    Isn’t this also called biofeedback? Wasn’t the generation before us (lets say in the 60’s) using biofeedback using high density EEG to make the same claims? If you don’t know history your doomed to (you get to?) repeat it!