Two scientific teams are reporting success in experiments that at least hint at the future possibility of mind reading via brain activity monitoring. University College of London scientists were able to identify which of two patterns volunteers were looking at just by watching their fMRI brain scans. Meanwhile, UCLA and Weizmann Institute of Science neuroscientists used electrodes implanted in two pre-surgical patients to record brain cell responses to scenes from Clint Eastwood's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Based on that data, they then predicted the fMRI signals generated by eleven healthy patients watching the same clip. From the BBC:
Professor Itzhak Fried, the neurosurgeon who led the (UCLA) research, said: "We were able to tell one part of a scene from another, and we could tell one type of sound from another."Link to BBC article, Link to UCLA press release
Dr John-Dylan Haynes of the UCL Institute of Neurology, who led the (UK) research, told the BBC News website: "What we need to do now is create something like speech-recognition software, and look at which parts of the brain are specifically active in a person."
He said the study's findings proved the principle that fMRI scans could "read thoughts", but he said it was a very long way from creating a machine which could read anyone's mind.
But Dr Haynes said: "We could tell from a very limited subset of possible things the person is possibly seeing."