LivingWhen can we read the human brain?

When can we read the human brain?

cerebro-leerTheadvances in neuroimaging technologyallow finding traces of a memorized data in the brain, especially when it comes to guessing among a small number of variables, butthe possibility of reading minds like an open book is still a long way off. “We can hope to understand how the brain works, but our ability to read an individual’s brain at any given time is very limited,” says Stanislas Dehaene, director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Neurospin Center, located near Paris, France.

In diagnostic imaging, “the collaboration of the subjects is needed,” explains Dehaene, who states that “it is very easy for the test to not work.” For example, all you need to do is perform a few movements, indulge in a distraction, or simply clench your teeth to “screw up an EEG.”

So, can you guess if a person is thinking of number 2 or number 4? In diagnostic imaging tests it is possible to “overcome chance,” according to Dehaene. “If we take two numbers, for example 2 and 4, there is a 50% chance of getting it right: we got it 60% right”, which according to the researcher can be considered “a feat”. However, the specialist highlights the limits of these statistical results.

In 2008, the team led by Jack Gallant, from the University of California (USA), obtained surprising results. He asked for two volunteerslook at 120 images undergoing an MRI, which allows locating the areas of the brain that become active. With the help of a computer program and the data obtained when those same volunteers looked at 1,750 other images, the teamtried to “guess” what they saw. The success rate was 92% with one volunteer and 72% with another, according to a study published in the scientific journalNature


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