A new mind reading computer program has the ability to decode people’s thoughts in real-time.
Now, researchers will be able to tell what a particular person is actually seeing. This will be made possible with the help of electrical signals implanted within the brain and captured through electrodes. The decoding process will happen within fractions of a second for a person who is seeing the image for the very first time.
Rajesh Rao, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington said that the phenomenon will be very helpful for people, especially for those who are unable to speak, or who find trouble with communicating and expressing their thoughts. He further stated that clinically, one could see the results of this research as a proof of the concept that allows building a mechanism for communication between paralyzed people, or with patients who had a stroke and are able to communicate as a result.
During the past few years, scientists have carried out extensive research in the field of mind reading and decoding human thoughts. During a study conducted in 2012, research scientists successfully translated brain waves into videos. Another study allowed researchers to see what people were dreaming about. This was done with the help of monitoring brain activity.
Dr. Rao and his team wanted to know if the same research can be furthered. They implanted electrodes into the temporal lobes of seven people who had severe epilepsy, and had gone through surgery. The electrodes were implanted for a duration of a week only, and allowed doctors to exactly pinpoint the location of the seizures within the temporal lobe which is a frequent source of seizures. The temporal lobe is also the region of the brain that process sensory input like visualization and recognition of objects that are seen by the patient.
The patients agreed to the experiment because this seemed like an additional task to them while they were in the hospital and had nothing to do except waiting.
Rao and his team made the participants of the experiment watch a screen on which there were several images flicking by. These images include photos of house and faces. There were several black screens as well. The patients were warned that there will be an image of an upside-down house that they must keep looking for.
The electrodes were hooked up with a powerful computer program which analyzes signals emanating from within the brain. The mind reading process started when the computers were able to determine how brain signals looked when a person was seeing a house or face. The mind reading program was able to determine the results almost correctly with 95% accuracy rate.
The mind reading phenomenon has allowed researchers to identify in real-time which parts of the human brain respond to specific stimulus. This will one day allow doctors to map put the entire brain.