By scanning your brain, scientists can tell what memory you are recalling.
Scientists have made impressive gains recently when it comes to reading minds. For instance, through brain scans, researchers can tell what number a person has just seen, figure out what letters a person wants to type, and determine where people were standing within virtual reality environments.
To see if they could discern even more complex information during mind-reading, scientists more recently had 10 volunteers watch three films, each seven-seconds long and featuring a different actress in a fairly similar everyday scenario on a typical urban street. For instance, in one movie, a woman rifled through her purse to find an envelope she then dropped into a mailbox, while in another, an actress finished her cup of coffee, which she then dropped into a trashcan. Participants watched the films 15 times.
The researchers scanned the participants’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while the participants were asked to recall the films. The data was run through a computer algorithm to identify brain activity patterns linked with memories for each of the movies. Using these patterns, the researchers could accurately predict which film volunteers were recalling as they had their brains scanned.
“The algorithm was able to predict correctly which of the three films the volunteer was recalling significantly above what would be expected by chance,” explained researcher Martin Chadwick at University College London. “This suggests that our memories are recorded in a regular pattern.”