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Now Computers Can Read Minds, Predict Human Thoughts In Real Time

Although the intention was to identify the focal points of seizures in epilepsy patients, a team of neuroscientists from the University of Washington have also uncovered ways to transcribe human thoughts instantly. Seven patients were chosen for the experiment and each one of them had electrodes temporarily attached to parts of their brain. They were given some picture cards, and based on the signals, scientists were able to identify which picture the patient was looking at, as and when they perceived it.


Rajesh Rao, computational neuroscientist at University of Washington, and his team, first identified how the brain responds to pictures the patient sees, and then reverse engineer to predict the picture based on brain activity. The pictures used were limited to human faces and houses. The electrodes were attached to the temporal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for processing sensory input.

The electrodes were connected to computational software that measured and mapped neurons lighting up to different images. They extracted two characteristics of the brain signal; event-related potential and broadband spectral changes. Event-related potential is the reflex of the brain to the picture in sight and the neuron activity at that instant. Broadband Spectral change is the lingering effect even after the image is removed from line of sight. Based on the viewer’s perception towards human faces and houses, the signals varied, allowing scientists to tell which of the two the viewer favored.


By combining the findings from both the brain waves, scientists were able to accurately predict what the patient was viewing 96% of the times. This has also led to the belief that both the waves carry complementary information about sensory input. Such high level of accuracy is achieved by analyzing brain signals about 1000 times per second.

This finding, together with a Japanese invention of a telepathic device, could lead to bridging communication gaps in paralyzed patients, by interpreting their thoughts. This device is capable of translating brain waves into words. Neuroscientists say that spoken and unspoken words have the same effect on the neurons and the signals are similar. This study could lead to advancements in dreams, memory, epilepsy and many more fields related to brain waves.

Source: Gizmodo | University of Washington
sangeethaR • Feb 10, 2016

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