Computers that can “read” your mind

May 29, 2008 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

Brain activity

Big news today. Best to go straight to the Reuters article:

A computer has been trained to “read” people’s minds by looking at scans of their brains as they thought about specific words, researchers from the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University announced today.

They hope their study, published in the journal Science, might lead to better understanding of how and where the brain stores information.

How’s it work? Volunteers were asked to think of 58 different words while researchers recorded their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The researchers were able to create an “average image” of each word based on the brain activity of each volunteer.

The computer was then trained to recognize the “subtle differences” among the brain images that corresponded to one of the 58 words.

Then the computer was given two new words that it had not yet seen — celery and airplane — and “was asked to choose which brain image corresponded with which word.” 

By comparing the new brain images to the brain images of the 58 words that the computer did know,

The computer passed the test, predicting when a brain image was taken when a person thought about the word “celery” and when the assigned word was “airplane.”

Researchers hope their work “might lead to better treatments for language disorders and learning disabilities.”

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood 


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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