HEALTHY LIVING
06/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Computer "Reads" Minds By Looking At Brain Scans

The world gets a big stranger every day. First there were the scientists who trained monkeys to control a robotic arm using only their brainwaves. Now researchers are saying that they have trained a computer to "read" people's minds:

A computer has been trained to "read" people's minds by looking at scans of their brains as they thought about specific words, researchers said on Thursday...

..."The question we are trying to get at is one people have been thinking about for centuries, which is: How does the brain organize knowledge?" Mitchell said in a telephone interview...

...They calibrated the computer by having nine student volunteers think of 58 different words, while imaging their brain activity...

..."After we train on the other 58 words, we can say 'Here are two new words you have not seen, celery and airplane.'" The computer was asked to choose which brain image corresponded with which word.

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."