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New Technologies Read Your Thoughts

You may recall an article I posted last week about Sony's latest patent: A non-invasive technique that transmits sensory information directly into the brain that could theoretically give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear. Seems this was just the beginning of a trend in which scientists all over the world have been digging even deeper into the brain to uncover what we're really thinking, which really brought out the "science geek" in me.

All of this attention paid to "mind reading" is the result of a more powerful version of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

This new technique enables scientists to determine what people are looking at, including things they may not have been aware of seeing. Moreover, this turbo-charged MRI could be better able than scientists originally assumed to probe the border between conscious and unconscious thought and, in some cases, read a person's state of mind.

A pair of studies published this week in Nature Neuroscience (links below) review the promising results. In one study, researchers were able to determine which set of parallel lines out of eight patients saw based on their brain activity. In the other, the MRI device could determine which sets of patterns had been shown to six patients, even though they saw them for 15 milliseconds, too fast for the patient to perceive them consciously.

Even though these discoveries could very well be a boon to science down the road, there will certainly be health implications to consider. So don't be surprised to read more about them as they come on my Web site.

New York Times April 25, 2005 Registration Required

New Scientist April 25, 2005

Nature Neuroscience April 24, 2005

Nature Neuroscience April 24, 2005

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