Scientists Are Looking To Improve People's Confidence By Tapping Into Their Brains


People's brains can be tapped in order to boost their confidence, through a technique named decoded neurofeedback, which consists of scanning someone's brain in order to analyze its activity. Then through the means of artificial intelligence, activity patterns suggesting feelings of confidence can be spotted and stimulated.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications on Dec. 15, and it confirms previous studies that suggested the brain mechanisms that generate the feeling of confidence.

Confidence Stimulated Through Neurofeedback

The same researchers have already published a paper that implies that decoded neurofeedback could be employed in erasing frightening memories, and the current study takes that a step further.

As part of the new research, 17 subjects' brains were scanned, as they completed a perceptual task consisting of figuring out whether a series of dots on a given screen were moving toward left or right. Then the subjects rated their confidence in the choices they made.

The scientists used this method to establish the brain activity patterns that were active during these two tasks and then examined the subjects who responded to have been very confident with their answers. What the team wanted to understand as part of this step is how confidence looks like as a brain activity.

After coming to a conclusion, they employed the insight into creating a higher likelihood for this type of brain activity to occur in the future.

Brain Training: Responsive To Stimuli

Further, the subjects of the research had to go through a training session, during which their brains were scanned while they were looking at an image of a white disc. Afterward, the subjects were asked to regulate their brain activity as to make the disc larger. For this step of the process, the subjects were not given any guidelines as to how this should be carried out, and different subjects tried thinking of different strategies to accomplish the task they were given.

The disc grew when the patterns of the subjects' brain activity were similar to the ones the scientists had identified for the participants who were highly confident about their answers during the previous step of the research. The participants whose discs grew were rewarded small amounts of money in real time, which further increased the subjects' confidence in succeeding on the task.

"You can train people to be more confident in making left-right decisions, but that doesn't generalize, necessarily, to any other decision in life," noted Charan Ranganath, one of the study authors.

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