activity page will offer:
on EEG impulse control
opportunity to interpret and analyze waveforms
arena to develop inquiry skills
- transparency sheet
- copy of the EEG tracing included with this activity
1 - MOVEMENT OF INDEX
- Examine the three graphic representations of EEG signals.
- Place a sheet of clear plastic over the "no movement intention"
recording. Carefully trace the pattern onto the plastic.
- Place this traced pattern over the Recording #2, titled
"movement of the index finger." Identify and record any
differences that can be used to distinguish this movement
from the background EEG activity.
What do these three patterns represent?
Did the "movement" EEG differ from the "No movement" recording?
Is so, how?
What was the signal strength of each of the first signal
about what time did the last signature spike occur?
the strength and time of occurrence of all new spikes associated
with the movement of an index finger.
of Thumb and Index Finger
Now that you know how to isolate and identify a signal spike,
determine the differences in signal characteristics between
the index movement and the movement of the thumb and index
finger (Recording #3).
You'll need another sheet of transparency paper.
3 - Destructive Inderstanding
When signals occur at the same time, their values can either
reinforce or reduce each other. If the wave spikes are in
sync and are both positive or both negative, they reinforce
each other. This type of signal increase is called constructive
interference. If, however, the in-sync signals have opposite
values (one positive, the other negative), the spikes can
cancel each other out. This type of interaction is called
destructive interference. Check out the spike that occurs
in the index finger movement at 0.1 seconds.
- What is this signal's strength? Was this spike present
in the no movement EEG?
- Is this spike present in the movement of the thumb and
- What does this suggest about the signal generated to
move the thumb alone?
- Make a guess. What is the most likely value of a thumb
signal spike that occurs at 0.1 seconds?
Your brain isn't foolproof. Even when it comes to simple movements,
you can confuse its processing and send messages to the wrong
muscles. In this activity, you'll examine how confusion can
send control impulses to the wrong receivers. So hang on tightly,
as we challenge your mind's control over your body's movement.
1 - A Confusing
- Extend both of your arms in front of you.
both hands so the palms face outward.
one hand over the other. As your palms align, clasp your
hands together. The fingers from the right and left hand
should alternate with each other.
your clasped hands inwards and rotate the hands around so
that they point upwards.
a partner point to a finger. Your job is to raise only that
finger as quickly as you can. Think it's easy? Just give
it a try and you'll see how easy it is to confuse your perception
What happened when you tried to lift the finger identified
by your partner?
fingers were least likely to be confused?
you didn't invert your clasp. Would you still confuse the
fingers? Why or why not?
How might you use the right/left reversal of a mirror to produce
a confused response? Think about it. Then, create a strategy
for inquiry that would use a reflected image to trick a person
into moving the wrong body parts. After gaining approval from
your teacher, try your strategy for inquiry and report your
finding to the class.
- MIND, MATTER & PSUEDOSCIENCE
word psychokinesis brings to mind all sorts of concepts from
detecting EEG (electroencephalogram) signals to bending metal
spoons. Although scientists have only recently approached
valid investigations into thought control, the concept of
"mind over matter" has long been a popular thread of pseudoscience.
People have claimed that they can use their thoughts to warp
utensils or move objects along a table surface. Some individuals
have claimed the ability to read other's thoughts or transmit
their own thoughts through telepathy. What do you think? Look
for justification or evidence to support your thoughts.
SPOT, JUMP - A WRITING CONNECTION
years ago, the US military looked at the feasibility of using
thought control to pilot jets. Although the program is now
defunct, the researchers did observe limited success. Hooked
to a machine that could detect brain waves, subjects learned
to control the up and down movement of a spot using their
thoughts. When they set their mind in a certain pattern, the
electrical signals of the brain sent out a distinct signal
that computers interpreted as either "up" or "down" jumps.
When thought patterns changed, the spot went in the opposite
direction. That was it - or was it? Suppose the lab unleashed
an incredible power of thought control and wanted to keep
this ability as top-secret in the US arsenal. Write a science
fiction story that extends this story from the published facts
to the limits of your imagination.
PSEUDOSCIENCE & INQUIRY
you ever seen a magician bend a spoon while the spoon lies
within the hand of an audience member? If so, you know it
is a powerful display. Although the magician may claim that
the bend is a function of mental powers, the real force lies
within expansion due to heating. The spoon, like an older
household thermostat, consists of two different metals sandwiched
together. As the metals heat up within your hand, they expand
at different rates. This causes the spoon to bend. Obtain
pieces of a bimetallic strip from your instructor or a local
plumbing/heating store. Examine the small strips and explore
their behavior when warmed and cooled. Design an inquiry project
using a controlled experiment that explores the bending properties
of this strip. Share your design with your instructor. With
your instructor's approval perform the inquiry and share your
results with the class.
In this BBC news article, lab rats that have had an electrode
embedded into their brains can use thoughts to control a robotic
This resource explores the control of voluntary motor movement
from the intention to the final action
Information on the now defunct Air Force project that had
hoped to demonstrate the viability of thought-controlled flight
and Quantum Mechanics
A controversial convergence of psychokinesis and quantum mechanics
is presented within this article - an excellent arena for
critical thought analysis
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,