Thursday, March 6, 2008

UC Berkeley Neuroscientists Can Read Our Minds

By Jennifer Wadsworth
Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 8:10 PM

Imagine a device that projects a person's subconscious thought into translatable signals on a computer screen — a machine that might allow someone entry into another person's dreams. Sounds like a tool straight out of George Orwell's doom-and-gloom vision for a mind-controlling dystopia. Yet according to an article from Nature journal, such a remote mind-reader may one day exist. UC Berkeley neuroscientists have developed a remote scanner that can pick up signals from the frontal lobe, determining what parts of the brain respond to light, touch, and sound by quickening blood flow.

By reading the brain's reaction to various pictures, the scanner can guess what the subject is looking at, the article explained.

The finding means psychotherapists could one day effectively assess how well a patient is responding to treatment, diagnose the extent of potential consciousness in coma patients, and open the door for scientists to study more abstract human behaviors, like attention spans, surmised experts quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

But one thing several news stories noted is that the finding is at least a little scary, if just for its potential to invade our thoughts.

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