Scientists Get Closer to Making Mind-Reading a Reality
We've all seen it in books and sci-fi films - the possibility that a person can read another's mind. But what if it were a reality?
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have successfully used a computer program in order to determine what words volunteers listened to.
Dr. Brian Pasley led a study in fifteen epileptic patients. Neurosurgeons cut a hole in the skull and placed electrodes on the surface of the brain for the purpose of examining the cause of their seizures. In the study, brain activity was monitored through the electrodes as the patients listened to conversations and single words. Out of two programs used, one program was then able to reproduce a sound, which led the scientists to properly guess the original word.
"If you can understand the relationship well enough between the brain recordings and sound, you could either synthesize the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device," Dr. Pasley said in a news release.
He also believes that in a few years' time, it will be possible to implant a device into the brain of a stroke victim that will be able to speak their thoughts aloud for them.
Professor Robert Knight who also worked on the study, said in a public statement, "This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig's disease and can't speak...If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands of people could benefit."
Though mind-reading hasn't reached the same levels that we see in movies and television shows today, this first step could lead to some serious advancement in giving those who can no longer speak, their voices back.
What do you think of this new technology? Exciting or scary?