Is brain-reading possible?
Mind-Reading is something many of us think is impossible, but new developments in science could soon be making you change your mind.
A new method has been created which reconstructs words and this is possible by studying the brain waves of patients who are thinking the sounds of the words. Electrical signals were gathered from the patient’s brains and the computer model reconstructs the sounds of the words.
In the future this could be highly beneficial to helping patients who suffer with Lock-in Syndrome or patients who are in a coma, it would allow them to communicate easier or have some communication with their families and the doctors. Coma patients can communicate through their brain patterns. An example to show this is a twenty-nine year old Belgian, who for five years has been in a coma and showed no signs of awareness or consciousness. He was successfully able to answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions by stimulating different parts of his brain when being scanned by an MRI machine.
“The development of direct neuro-control over virtual or physical devices would… improve quality of life immensely for those who suffer from impaired communication skills” Mindy McCumber – Florida Hospital.
Brian Pasley focused on an area of the brain called the superior temporal gyrus, which is a higher order brain region. This means that it helps us make sense of the sounds we hear. His team monitored the brain waves of 15 patients who were undergoing surgery for epilepsy or tumours, while playing speakers reciting words and sentences. With the help of a computer model the team were able to guess which words the participants had chosen.
However, these new advances in science may cause ethical issues to arise as people may argue that there are some things science shouldn’t test, e.g. a persons thoughts. What a person is thinking and feeling can often be picked up on just by observing facial expression, posture and their words. Our ability to understand each other is the basis of being a human. The research discussed investigates into acts of communication and not reading a person’s thoughts.
Palmer, J. (2012). Science decodes ‘internal voices’. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16811042
Brown, M. (2010). Can coma patients communicate with brain patterns? Retrieved from http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-02/08/can-coma-patients-communicate-with-brain-patterns
Noe, A. (2012) Seeing what you mean. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/02/03/146332808/seeing-what-you-mean