Can brain scientists read your mind? - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Can brain scientists read your mind?

Posted:

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

What are you thinking about? You wouldn't always want the answer to that question available to others, but science may be heading in that direction.

For now, researchers are far from being able to tap into your thoughts. But a new study shows how, just by looking at brain activity, it may be possible to see whether or not you're thinking about numbers.

"The patient doesn't need to talk to you. They can think about numbers and you can see that red mark (corresponding with activity in a particular brain region) go up," said Dr. Josef Parvizi, associate professor of neurology at the Stanford University Medical Center and senior author of the study. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Take note, this study was done on only three people with uncontrolled seizures -- that's a tiny sliver of humanity. But Parvizi said most studies on patients with intracranial electrodes only involve two to five participants, since recruitment is so difficult.

These patients had electrodes implanted in their brains to locate the source of their seizures. Surgeons perform this procedure to isolate or remove the area where seizures begin.

The researchers used these electrodes that had been implanted for locating seizures to investigate brain activity in relation to thinking about numbers, particularly in the parietal lobe. In previous studies, this brain area has been shown to be important to a person's ability to do numerical calculations.

In one part of the experiment, patients looked at a computer screen while lying down and responded to prompts regarding the accuracy of statements. They would press "one" if the sentence or mathematical equation were correct, "two" if incorrect.

Each time a patient would perform a calculation, a group of neurons in the parietal lobe -- specifically a region called the intraparietal sulcus -- was very active, Parvizi said.

In another part of this study, researchers used a computer to trace the activity of the same group of neurons in the patients in an unconstrained setting. They recorded conversations between patients and experimenters, and juxtaposed the brain activity data to show the correlations between spiking activity in the math-related brain region and quantitative statements that patients made.

When patients were seeing, thinking or talking without a script, it seemed that the natural activation in the parietal lobe tended to occur right before they said something quantitative, Parvizi said. It didn't happen every time, of course; more research would be needed to verify these findings.

Oxford University researcher Roi Cohen Kadosh called this "an innovative study that shows a nice relationship between neuronal activity during experimental setting and everyday situations." But he pointed out that it is unclear whether the same results would be seen in healthy people, whose brains had not experienced seizures. Other studies have found multiple brain areas related to numerical understanding.

The bottom line: Just by looking at the data about brain activity, it may be possible to know when a person was thinking about numbers.

This is much simpler than trying to decode more specific thoughts from brain activity patterns. There's no way for scientists to know if you are daydreaming about hiking with your romantic partner, worrying about finishing a big project or making a grocery list.

"We are light years behind in doing such a thing. There is absolutely no way for us to kind of record what exactly the patient is thinking because that needs a lot of complicated decoding," Parvizi said.

Instead, this study presents a method of studying brain activity in order to get a general sense of what a person is experiencing through thoughts.

"Of course, it's just a matter of time (before) you're going to be able to decode brain activity in very complex conditions, such as thinking," Parvizi said.

Mind control? Brain controls brain in new demonstration

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

  • Padre Island National Seashore Free Admission

    Padre Island National Seashore Free Admission

    If you are looking for something to do this Easter weekend you may want to head out to the Padre Island National Seashore.That's because this Easter weekend admission to the park is free. The offer not only coincides with Easter weekend but it also marks the beginning of National Park Week which began Saturday and lasts till the 27th of April.More >>
    If you are looking for something to do this Easter weekend you may want to head out to the Padre Island National Seashore.That's because this Easter weekend admission to the park is free. The offer not only coincides with Easter weekend but it also marks the beginning of National Park Week which began Saturday and lasts till the 27th of April.More >>
  • Early Morning Foot Pursuit For CCPD

    Early Morning Foot Pursuit For CCPD

    A Corpus Christi man is facing some serious charges after leading Corpus Christi police officers on a foot chase Sunday morning. The chase started at 1:15 Sunday morning at the 2000 block of Treyway, near Airline and Holly. Police say while the suspect fled from police, he allegedly tried to get rid of a gun and what is believed to be crack cocaine. Investigators were able to recover a handgun and the controlled substance. The man was then taken to the Corpus Christi Detention Center and...More >>
    A Corpus Christi man is facing some serious charges after leading Corpus Christi police officers on a foot chase Sunday morning. The chase started at 1:15 Sunday morning at the 2000 block of Treyway, near Airline and Holly. Police say while the suspect fled from police, he allegedly tried to get rid of a gun and what is believed to be crack cocaine. Investigators were able to recover a handgun and the controlled substance. The man was then taken to the Corpus Christi Detention Center and...More >>
  • Man Who Shot Cop in Fredericksburg In Jail After Chase

    Man Who Shot Cop in Fredericksburg In Jail After Chase

    Sunday, April 20 2014 11:16 AM EDT2014-04-20 15:16:29 GMT
    A suspect accused of shooting a Fredericksburg police officer is in custody in San Antonio after leading police on a chase spanning several counties.It started in Fredericksburg around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.According to the Fredericksburg Police Department, an officer was making a routine traffic stop when the 31-year-old Robert Adrian Rendon fired several shots at him from inside the car.The officer was hit twice, once in the stomach and once in the neck.He was able to radio for help and was ta...More >>
    A suspect accused of shooting a Fredericksburg police officer is in custody in San Antonio after leading police on a chase spanning several counties.It started in Fredericksburg around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.According to the Fredericksburg Police Department, an officer was making a routine traffic stop when the 31-year-old Robert Adrian Rendon fired several shots at him from inside the car.The officer was hit twice, once in the stomach and once in the neck.He was able to radio for help and was ta...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KIII. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.