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Unstrange Phenomena

02 May 2009

Brain: The Technology of Mind Reading

Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...Animation of an MRI Brain Scan Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: Published last fall in Nature - and their academic snooze writing decoded by Psychology Today - come most curious findings from an fMRI study of human brain activity. It seems science is on the outside edges of being able to read your mind!

Right now researchers have been able to learn what a subject is looking at as long as it is a photo of a scene in nature. "Using fMRI, the investigators acquired a template response from each subject's visual cortex and then used this template to "decode" the brain's response to novel images," says Psychology Today.

How were the investigators able to decipher to a high degree of accuracy what the subjects were viewing? Using a computer algorithm they scanned the visual cortex of the subject. Basically, it came close to mind reading with a 92% accuracy.

In the experiment all the algorithm was required to do was look at the known brain activity and then proceed to choose from a known set of images to determine which one was the best match. The algorithm did not take the brain activity and then reconstruct what the subject was actually seeing - there is a difference here. If there was a large image library maybe some day the computer just might be able to do this reconstruction process and practically "read minds."

Written by Denny Lyon



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