On November 18, 2011, the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reported:
Ontario nuclear plants are the first in their industry worldwide to test-drive a futuristic gizmo that measures employees’ concentration by reading brain waves.
This might be the first time I have ever seen a major newspaper use the word gizmo.
The Globe and Mail continues:
The premise is deceptively simple: Use the electric current released by neurons firing in the brain to test, in real time, a person’s concentration level. And the device is strikingly svelte – this is no Medusa-like helmet of coloured cords strapped to your skull.
It’s a lightweight box, about the size of two decks of cards, that attaches via Velcro straps anywhere on your body. A trio of button-like prongs picks up the electric current travelling along your skin and measures the waves your brain activity creates – the higher the beta wave concentration, the higher your focus.
Apparently, there are similarities between nuke plant workers and children with Attention Deficit Disorder:
…in an age of splintered attention spans, says Rob Templeton, Ontario Power Generation’s lead auditor for operations, the imperative of teaching concentration is greater than ever.
“There’s talk of a cultural attention deficit, where we’ve got so many sensory inputs, we’ve got so much bombardment that takes place, it affects people’s ability to pay attention,” he says. “How do you pay attention? It’s never been a tangible, achievable thing – it’s just been something that we’ve said. And now we’ve come to a new point.”
Five years ago, Mr. Templeton was in charge of OPG’s operator training program when he heard that a kind of neurofeedback technology being used for children with attention-deficit disorder was also being used by NASA to measure astronauts’ level of concentration.
Some malcontents (like neurologists) are skeptical:
“It sounds like science fiction. It doesn’t make any sense,” says Claude Alain, a scientist at Baycrest Rotman Research Institute. “The farther away you are [from the head], you will pick up a lot of interference. … I have a hard time imagining how it would work.”
At least, Templeton is not talking about any negative re-enforcements, at least at this time. But can shock collars for technicians be far behind?