Is This The First Step Toward Mind-Reading? Scientists Convert Brain Waves Into Words

Posted by on February 1, 2012

Last year, scientists were able to use magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI) to pull moving images from our minds.

Now, they’ve been able to decode words.

Words Are Patterns

It’s a bit more complicated than that, of course. The actual technique involves first speaking a word to a person, and then analyzing their accompanying electrical patterns.

They can then “decode” and translate those patterns “into an approximate version of the original sound.”

So it’s not exactly mind-reading; not in the super power sense. Scientists, in this case, already know what the patient is (or should be) thinking. They’re simply looking for the patterns of brain waves associated with the words.

However, this breakthrough could be used in the future to allow communication with people who can’t speak.

For example, there could be an implant which interprets “imagined speech” — the mere thought of saying a word — into something real and understandable.

That’ll take a lot of work to accomplish, and an extensive amount of further research, but this alone is one step closer to mind reading.

A breakthrough that is both extraordinary (for those who do not have a voice) and frightening (for its potential exploitation).

(And tell me that video isn’t creepy.)

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About the Author Post by Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.