Research could lead to mind-reading devices
When people use certain quantitative words, such as “more” or “many,” during conversation, the brain activates the same region it uses when working out math problems, according to new research. And that, according to researchers, could make it possible for people to communicate simply by thinking and having another person "read" their mind with a help of a device.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Sanford School of Medicine monitored the brains of three volunteers. the participants spent a week in a hospital, during which they were allowed to eat, drink, think, watch videos and talk to family and friends in person or by phone. Researchers used electrodes to pick up their brains’ electrical activity and used video cameras to find out what real-life activities spiked brain activity.
Findings showed that every time a participant said a number or a quantitative word, the region of the brain used for working out math calculations was triggered. This region was not activated when participants were simply talking or laughing.
Researchers said these findings could be a first step towards developing mind-reading devices that allow them to see when someone is thinking about numbers.
Such devices may be particularly significant for people left mute following a stroke, for example, and could one day communicate through passive thinking. However, much more research is needed before such devices are implemented.