Scientists may have come up with a way to read your mind

Right out of science fiction, neuroscientists from the University of Washington and Stanford have developed a system of electrodes implanted in parts of the brain that they claim can decode brain signals.

In a paper published in the PLOS Computational Biology journal, the scientists detail their electrode system, implanted in the brains of epilepsy patients, to try to localize the focal point of seizures.

During tests, the team used an algorithm set to analyze the data collected from the electrodes to find out if the algorithm could determine visual human perception.

They showed different generic images to patients, such as houses, faces or a blank screen, in a fast sequence and found that their algorithm was able to correctly determine what the patient was looking at an amazing 96% of the time.

More impressively, though, the algorithm was able to decode the data at an average speed of just 20 milliseconds, or nearly at the speed of natural perception.

The results coincide with other experiments being conducted using electrode implants in the human brain, including an experiment that allowed a person who had lost mobility of their hand to move a finger.

With this in mind, these types of electrode implants could one day in theory allow disabled people to determine the area that controls the loss of a physical ability and help them regain it, as well as potentially help in mental illnesses and other neurological conditions.

And looking more into the future, the implants could also be applied to a number of different neurosciences-focused studies. One day, when science fiction is no longer fiction, it could even give us the ability to read each other’s minds.

Image credit: Neil Conway/CC by 2.0 (cropped from original)