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A machine that reveals most private thoughts

January 03, 2008 11:28 IST

Scientists have developed a machine capable of reading our mind and revealing our most private thoughts.

American researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that with the aid of a sophisticated scanner and computer programme, they were able to determine how the brain lights up when thinking about different subjects.

Using an advanced form of MRI scanner, they analysed how the brain reacted to ten drawings of tools and buildings. They then used a computer programme to work out whether a person was thinking about a tool or a building.

"We hope to progress to identifying the thoughts associated not just with pictures but also with words and eventually sentences," said Dr Svetlana Shinkareva, one of the researchers.

The device's possibilities can be extended and the team envisage a time when it will be used to conduct infallible lie detector tests, while the accurate interpretation of a person's intentions could allow police to arrest criminals before they break the law, as seen in the film Minority Report.

The researchers' analysis was found to be 97 per cent accurate. Despite being limited to picking up the thoughts behind just ten pictures, the researchers are confident that they will soon be able to identify entire sentences.

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, also showed that different people think about the same thing in the same way.
"This part of the study establishes, as never before, that there is a commonality in how different people's brains represent the same subject," the study, reported in the Daily Mail of Britain, said.

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