Mind-reading - scientists are one step closer

Mind-reading - scientists are one step closer

Science or science-fiction?

Brainwaves - the patterns of electrical activity created in the brain - can easily be measured. It's much harder to work out the information encoded in the brainwaves. What do they mean? How and where are they produced?

Scientists at the University of Glasgow showed volunteers lots of images of people's faces. The faces displayed different emotions such as happiness, fear and surprise. Some of the faces were covered up so that, for example, only the eyes or mouth were visible. Volunteers were asked to identify the emotion being displayed and their brainwaves were measured whilst they were viewing the images.

What emotion do you think this woman is showing?

Woman smiling__proc_77005621

Scientists showed that the type of brainwave varies greatly according to which part of the face was being looked at. When you looked at the picture of the mouth above, you made a 'theta' - slow frequency - brainwave. The brain produces different brainwaves patterns to encode different visual features. Information is encoded by the frequency and timing of brainwaves.

Professor Philippe Schynes, who led the study, said: "It's a bit like unlocking a scrambled television channel. Before, we could detect the signal, but couldn't watch the content; now we can.

"How the brain encodes the visual information that enables us to recognise faces and scenes has long been a mystery. While we are able to detect activity in certain areas of the brain when particular tasks are performed, we've not known what information is being carried in those brainwaves.

"What we have done is to find a way of decoding brainwaves to identify the messages within."

See the original article on The Daily What.

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