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Monday, 25 April 2005 13:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Scan reveals unconscious thoughts
Scientists from University College London (UCL) have discovered a way of reading a person’s thoughts using functional MRI scans.

In the study published in Nature Neuroscience, the UCL team found they could predict which of two objects a volunteer was viewing using brief recordings of brain activity.

UCL researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to measure activity in the brain’s visual cortex while volunteers viewed a grating slanted to the left or the right.

A single two-second measurement was enough to allow scientists to predict with 80 per cent accuracy which of the two orientations of grating the volunteer was viewing.

Dr Geriant Rees from UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said: “This approach is the first basic step toward reading somebody’s mind. If our approach could be expanded upon, it might be possible to predict what someone was thinking or seeing from their brain activity alone.

“Our study also shows that an object can be registered subliminally by the brain even when the individual is not conscious of it.”

Experts now think the technique could be used to find out people’s personality traits such as fears, phobias and prejudices.

Dr Rees added: “In principle, the technique could be applied to a device such as a lie detector but much more research would be needed. You would need to explore which regions of the brain might predict whether someone was lying.

“These could be very different to the visual cortex and might not carry strong enough signals”.


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