I was at a talk yesterday on anthropology and genetics, where the presenter argued persuasively that molecular anthropology really took off when the methods of accessing genetic information became easy and cheap enough to use for anthropology–the ability to collect data in the field, the ability to process the genetic sequences quickly and cheaply, and so forth. Even though brain imaging has gotten a lot more inexpensive, it’s still brain imaging–sticking people in a big tube. Not the most natural of situations.
I just ran across this article, Brain-reading headset to sell for $299. Here’s one relevant excerpt about the NeuroHeadset: “The headset’s sensors are designed to detect conscious thoughts and expressions as well as “non-conscious emotions” by reading electrical signals around the brain… The company, which unveiled a prototype last year, says the headset can detect emotions such as anger, excitement and tension, as well as facial expressions and cognitive actions like pushing and pulling objects.”
The headset has been developed by Emotiv Systems primarily for gaming. So it’s not quite research-ready. But the price and the portability might soon open the collecting of real-time functional brain data in the near future, permitting us neuroanthropologists to get some important data in the field.