Scientists succeeded in reading people’s minds without needing to make head-to-head contact

With the success of a new mind-reading technique, scientists can now read and decode human thoughts without touching the head.

BingMag.com Scientists succeeded in reading people’s minds without needing to make head-to-head contact

With the success of a new mind-reading technique, scientists can now read and decode human thoughts without touching the head.

Past mind reading techniques relied on implanting electrodes deep into people's brains. But the new method, which was presented in an article on September 29 (7 October), relies on a non-invasive brain scanning technique called "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging" or "fMRI".

fMRI actually tracks oxygenated blood flow in the brain, and given that active brain cells require more energy and oxygen, this information makes it possible to indirectly measure brain activity.

Note By its very nature, this scanning method cannot record brain activity in real time, because the electrical signals emitted by brain cells flow much faster than blood in the brain.

But the authors of the study found that it still They can also significantly use this marker to decipher the meaning of people's thoughts, although they cannot produce word-for-word translations.

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"Alexander Huth" (Alexander Huth), the senior author of this study and a neuroscientist at the University of Texas "If you had asked any cognitive neuroscientist in the world 20 years ago if this was possible, they would have laughed at you," S. Austin said.

For this new research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed This team scanned the brains of a woman and two men aged 20 to 30. Each of the participants listened to a total of 16 hours of different podcasts and radio programs during several sessions while being in the brain scanner.

The research team then fed the results of these scans into a computer algorithm that they called a "decoder". "(Decoder) which compares the patterns in the sound with the patterns of recorded brain activity. Hath told "The Scientist" about this that this algorithm can then record information from an fMRI. take what has been done and produce a story based on its content; And this story fits very well with the original context of the podcast or radio show.

In other words, the decoding program was able to infer what story he heard based on the brain activity of each participant. It should be noted that, in this preliminary test, the algorithm had some mistakes. For example, changing the pronouns moved the characters and had problems using the first and third person. "The algorithm knows exactly what's going on, but it doesn't know who's doing things," Hath noted.

In additional tests, the algorithm was able to fairly accurately map out a Describe the silent film that the study participants watched. It even managed to read their minds unannounced and was able to tell the story that the participants were imagining in their own minds.

In the long term, the research team plans to develop this decoding technology so that it can be used in the interface brain and computer designed for people who cannot speak or type.

Cover photo: MRI brain scan
Credit: Sebastian Condrea/Getty Images

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