British scientists have developed a computer that can read human minds, a key breakthrough that they claim takes telepathy a step closer to reality, reports PTI.
According to them, the computer is able to decipher thought patterns and tell what people are thinking simply by scanning the brain—in fact, it can delve into memories and differentiate between different recollections.
This breakthrough follows research last year by the same scientists who used the same technique to track a person's movements around a computer-simulated room. For the current research, which focussed on the hippocampus, an area at the centre of the brain that plays a crucial role in short-term memory, the scientists carried out an experiment involving 10 volunteers.
The subjects were shown three seven-second films featuring different women carrying out an everyday task in a typical urban street such as posting a letter or drinking a cup of coffee from a paper cup.
The volunteers were asked to memorise what they saw and then recall each one in turn whilst inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner which records brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow within the brain.
The computer algorithm then studied the electrical patterns and could tell which film the volunteer was recalling with an accuracy of about 50%—which was well above chance, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
Lead scientist Prof Eleanor Maguire of University College of London said, "In our previous experiment we're looking at basic memories, at someone's location in an environment.”
"What is more interesting is to look at 'episodic' memories—the complex, everyday memories that include much more information on where we are, what we are doing and how we feel. We've been able to look at brain activity for a specific episodic memory—to look at actual memory traces. We found our memories are definitely represented in the hippocampus. Now that we've seen where they are, we have an opportunity to understand how memories are stored and how they may change through time," said Prof Maguire.
The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'Current Biology' journal.