US scientists have unveiled a device which translates what we are seeing in our heads onto a screen. Here are a few other “mind-reading” breakthroughs.
1) A team from the University of Glasgow announced in May they had come one step closer to creating a mind-reading machine after successfully decoding brain signals related to vision. Volunteers were shown images of people’s faces displaying different emotions such as happiness, fear and surprise.
The scientists were able to show that brainwaves varied greatly according to which part of the face was being looked at. Professor Philippe Schyns, who led the study, described their advancement as “a bit like unlocking a scrambled television channel. Before, we could detect the signal but couldn’t watch the content; now we can.”
2) Using electrodes, bioengineers from Utah University recorded brain signals in a computer as a patient repeatedly read 10 words that might be useful to a paralysed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less.
Then they got him to repeat the words to the computer and it was able to match the brain signals for each word up to 90 per cent of the time.
The researchers said the method needs improvement, but could lead in a few years to clinical trials on paralysed people who cannot speak due to so-called “locked-in” syndrome.
3) Canadian scientists announced a breakthrough in the tricky business of mind-reading in June – they developed a method of working out from brain scans what physical action a person is about to carry out before he or she actually does it. They hope now to harness that technology to create advanced artificial limbs for amputees.
4) Car manufacturer Toyota announced it was working on a neuron helmet for cyclists that would monitor heartrate, speed and cadence to allow the rider to shift gears with just their mind.