Saffron's Space

This week in When Science Fiction Becomes Reality, I’m excited to touch on a topic that everyone is interested in; mind reading.

So far the idea of mind-reading has been mostly confined to the realms of sorcery, but what if someone could actually look at the activity of your brain and determine your thoughts?

Human BrainResearchers have recently shown (by accident), that a very specific area of the brain lights up when a person thinks in terms of quantity, e.g. ‘more than’. At the time the researchers were analyzing which areas of the brain are involved in certain activities and noticed that this particular area (activated when solving mathematical equations etc.) was also activated when involved in everyday conversations about quantities.

While this may be only a small step in terms of the brain’s entire vocabulary it’s a pretty incredible achievement. The work in this study could lead to more advancements, like the association of other areas of the brain with other thought patterns. Eventually this could be put into almost a ‘brain-wave translation dictionary’, e.g. activity in section C7 means ‘I’m hungry’.

Medically this kind of technology could help people who have been rendered mute or unable to speak e.g. through strokes. Imagine if you have been unable to communicate, and then suddenly people know exactly what you want?

Of course at this stage we can’t go around attaching electrodes to everyone (aside from the ethical issues), it’s not a simple process. The people in this particular study had parts of their skulls removed to allow attachment of the electrodes. However, as we all know, technology is becoming more advanced everyday. How long before such electrodes become a tiny chip which is clipped onto a person’s hair?

Moving even further into the realm of science fiction, this technology could certainly be used for evil as well as good. Just think George Orwell’s 1986- a tiny chip that reads your thoughts and conveys them straight to the ‘overlords’. CCTV’s don’t look so invasive now do they?

And of course a step on from that is the possible follow on to mind-control. Ok, so now we can read brain activity but what if you could influence it? What if you could insert electrodes to stimulate certain regions and cause a person to think about something specific or to think or feel a certain way (fear, anger, aggression, love)? Further down the rabbit hole we go…


You can read the original article here.

What do you think of this method of mind-reading? What was the coolest piece of science trivia you heard about this week?

If you’d like to read about more incredible scientific breakthroughs check out past episodes of When Science Fiction Becomes Reality.

And if you’re a fan of science fiction make sure you check out my sneak peak, of the up-and-coming Nova series.



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