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Mind-reading proven to be possible

Marvelous feats in mind reading. Poster print, lithograph.
The U.S. Printing Co., Russell-Morgan Print, Cincinnati & New York. Copyright 1900. This media file is in the public domain in the United States because the copyright has expired.

The first steps in creating a realistic and useful device that reads minds have been achieved. Irina Simanova, a neuroscientist at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, presented the first example of functional mind-reading in her doctoral dissertation. The research was made public on April 17, 2014, at the Radboud University Nijmegen website.

The research takes advantage of previously proven facts that the image of an object and the word that describes that object in a given language are stored in specific cells in the brain. Simanova used electroencephalography and function magnetic resonance imaging to locate the neural centers that contain the word and image for cat and tool. This work proves that compartmentalization of objects that have common components is located in the same brain regions.

Simanova next used magnetoencephalography to predict the categories of a word that test subjects were about to pronounce but did not say. Magnetoencephalography is a very high speed method of tracking brain waves. The prediction of what a person would say before they said it as 67 percent accurate. Simanova claims that 100 percent accuracy in the prediction of what a person will say before they actually say it is possible in the near future by adjusting the algorithm that tracks brain waves and the location of the words stored in specific brain cells.

The proposed applications of the technology are basically medical. A device that converts brain signals into words through a computer could make speech defects a thing of the past. Simanova envisions the technology as being capable of overcoming the difficulties between the nuances that language translation poses for diplomats and may potentially improve international relationships.

At present the equipment that accomplishes knowing what a person will say before they say it is too bulky for mass production. Miniaturization of the equipment would follow when the economic demand becomes high. Once the technology has proven itself to be reliable one can imagine a high level of interest from government. One potential use could be the reading of a terrorist’s mind before that terrorist boards a plane with an explosive device. The technology may make relationships more difficult if you can read your partner’s mind.