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'Mind Reading' -v- 'Brain Reading'



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'Mind Reading' -v- 'Brain Reading'

Post by Kitkat on Mon 05 May 2014, 09:41

Neuroscience is a fast growing and popular field, but despite advances, when an area of the brain 'lights up" it does not tell us as much as we'd like about the inner workings of the mind.

Many of us have seen the pictures and read the stories. A beautiful picture of the brain where an area is highlighted and found to be fundamental for processes like fear, disgust or impaired social ability.

There are so many stories it can be easy to be swayed into thinking that much more of the brain's mystery has been solved than is the case.

The technology is impressive but one of the most popular scanning methods - functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) actually measures regional regional changes of blood flow to areas of the brain, not our neurons directly.

Researchers use it when they want to understand what part of the brain is involved in a particular task. They can place a person in a brain scanner and see which areas become active.

A team at the University of California, Berkley, primed participants with video clips, put them in a scanner and translated the electrical signals back into clips which looked very similar to what they had watched. You can see their results here.

But Jack Gallant, author of the work admits that he doesn't do "mind reading" as he doesn't really know what "the mind" is.

He says: "However, I do some "brain reading" which is simply the process of decoding the information that can be recovered from brain activity measurements.

"This is a straightforward process in theory, but any brain reading results will inevitably be limited by the quality of brain activity measurement, the quality of the computational brain models and computer resources."

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