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Hey Hey
post Feb 09, 2007, 10:42 AM
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The brain scan that can read people's intentions

Call for ethical debate over possible use of new technology in interrogation

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday February 9, 2007
The Guardian

Using the technology is 'like shining a torch, looking for writing on a wall'. CT image: Charles O'Rear/Corbis

A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.
The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists' ability to probe people's minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.

The team used high-resolution brain scans to identify patterns of activity before translating them into meaningful thoughts, revealing what a person planned to do in the near future. It is the first time scientists have succeeded in reading intentions in this way.

"Using the scanner, we could look around the brain for this information and read out something that from the outside there's no way you could possibly tell is in there. It's like shining a torch around, looking for writing on a wall," said John-Dylan Haynes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, who led the study with colleagues at University College London and Oxford University.

The research builds on a series of recent studies in which brain imaging has been used to identify tell-tale activity linked to lying, violent behaviour and racial prejudice.

The latest work reveals the dramatic pace at which neuroscience is progressing, prompting the researchers to call for an urgent debate into the ethical issues surrounding future uses for the technology. If brain-reading can be refined, it could quickly be adopted to assist interrogations of criminals and terrorists, and even usher in a "Minority Report" era (as portrayed in the Steven Spielberg science fiction film of that name), where judgments are handed down before the law is broken on the strength of an incriminating brain scan.

"These techniques are emerging and we need an ethical debate about the implications, so that one day we're not surprised and overwhelmed and caught on the wrong foot by what they can do. These things are going to come to us in the next few years and we should really be prepared," Professor Haynes told the Guardian.

The use of brain scanners to judge whether people are likely to commit crimes is a contentious issue that society should tackle now, according to Prof Haynes. "We see the danger that this might become compulsory one day, but we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence."

During the study, the researchers asked volunteers to decide whether to add or subtract two numbers they were later shown on a screen.

Before the numbers flashed up, they were given a brain scan using a technique called functional magnetic imaging resonance. The researchers then used a software that had been designed to spot subtle differences in brain activity to predict the person's intentions with 70% accuracy.

The study revealed signatures of activity in a marble-sized part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex that changed when a person intended to add the numbers or subtract them.

Because brains differ so much, the scientists need a good idea of what a person's brain activity looks like when they are thinking something to be able to spot it in a scan, but researchers are already devising ways of deducing what patterns are associated with different thoughts.

Barbara Sahakian, a professor of neuro-psychology at Cambridge University, said the rapid advances in neuroscience had forced scientists in the field to set up their own neuroethics society late last year to consider the ramifications of their research.

"Do we want to become a 'Minority Report' society where we're preventing crimes that might not happen?," she asked. "For some of these techniques, it's just a matter of time. It is just another new technology that society has to come to terms with and use for the good, but we should discuss and debate it now because what we don't want is for it to leak into use in court willy nilly without people having thought about the consequences.

"A lot of neuroscientists in the field are very cautious and say we can't talk about reading individuals' minds, and right now that is very true, but we're moving ahead so rapidly, it's not going to be that long before we will be able to tell whether someone's making up a story, or whether someone intended to do a crime with a certain degree of certainty."

Professor Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist and director of the Medical Research Council, said: "We shouldn't go overboard about the power of these techniques at the moment, but what you can be absolutely sure of is that these will continue to roll out and we will have more and more ability to probe people's intentions, minds, background thoughts, hopes and emotions.

"Some of that is extremely desirable, because it will help with diagnosis, education and so on, but we need to be thinking the ethical issues through. It adds a whole new gloss to personal medical data and how it might be used."

The technology could also drive advances in brain-controlled computers and machinery to boost the quality of life for disabled people. Being able to read thoughts as they arise in a person's mind could lead to computers that allow people to operate email and the internet using thought alone, and write with word processors that can predict which word or sentence you want to type . The technology is also expected to lead to improvements in thought-controlled wheelchairs and artificial limbs that respond when a person imagines moving.

"You can imagine how tedious it is if you want to write a letter by using a cursor to pick out letters on a screen," said Prof Haynes. "It would be much better if you thought, 'I want to reply to this email', or, 'I'm thinking this word', and the computer can read that and understand what you want to do."

· FAQ: Mind reading

What have the scientists developed?
They have devised a system that analyses brain activity to work out a person's intentions before they have acted on them. More advanced versions may be able to read complex thoughts and even pick them up before the person is conscious of them.

How does it work?
The computer learns unique patterns of brain activity or signatures that correspond to different thoughts. It then scans the brain to look for these signatures and predicts what the person is thinking.

How could it be used?
It is expected to drive advances in brain-controlled computers, leading to artificial limbs and machinery that respond to thoughts. More advanced versions could be used to help interrogate criminals and assess prisoners before they are released. Controversially, they may be able to spot people who plan to commit crimes before they break the law.

What is next?
The researchers are honing the technique to distinguish between passing thoughts and genuine intentions.
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Lindsay
post Feb 09, 2007, 01:05 PM
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WOW! What can I say. If knowledge is power, this is powerful. BTW, how demonstrable is the above information? Are we being conned?


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Trip like I do
post Feb 09, 2007, 07:11 PM
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This seems like old news, no offense, but I think people have been doing this for a long time now.
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Trip like I do
post Feb 09, 2007, 09:41 PM
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.... every little movement you make can be de-constructed.

Fasten your seat belt ladies.... and hold your colour.
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Lindsay
post Feb 10, 2007, 03:13 PM
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"Old news". Of course, it is!

It was mentioned in Genesis 1, where it talks about the danger of eating of the tree of "knowledge of good and evil". Such knowledge always has consequences--i.e., pneumatological consequences.

But this does not mean that we all understand the significance of this. This is why I ask: What does the term "de-construct" mean, for the average thinker? Anything?
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Hey Hey
post Feb 10, 2007, 03:44 PM
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QUOTE(Trip like I do @ Feb 10, 2007, 03:11 AM) *
This seems like old news, no offense, but I think people have been doing this for a long time now.
Corrr, doesn't time fly? It seems as though I was reading the article just yesterday!
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Hey Hey
post Feb 10, 2007, 03:46 PM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ Feb 09, 2007, 06:42 PM) *
The brain scan that can read people's intentionsCall for ethical debate over possible use of new technology in interrogation
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday February 9, 2007
The Guardian
QUOTE(Trip like I do @ Feb 10, 2007, 03:11 AM) *
This seems like old news, no offense, but I think people have been doing this for a long time now.
Corrr, doesn't time fly? It seems as though I was reading the article just yesterday!
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rhymer
post Feb 10, 2007, 03:46 PM
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I would be all for it if it could be useful.
However, I doubt that a useful capability will be forthcoming in the near future.

To be useful, it needs to provide an indication to a person(s) AS the ill-intending individual is considering his/her action to further his/her present intentions.
A good lie or truth detector would be more useful to find out what has happened after an event.

If intentions could be read as they take place in everyday scenarios, anyone with such capability could either attempt escape or pre-empt the situation. (then the truth drug would be needed to prove that A shot B becasue b was intending to shoot A). What a minefield!
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lcsglvr
post Feb 10, 2007, 06:41 PM
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They have tested this power on paraplegic and non-verbal folks. They have a 'machine,' for lack of a better term, that reads the brain waves of those individuals and it actually writes what they want to say.

Of course further testing would have to be done to see if this data is correct. But, I believe we'll be seeing it rather quickly in the future.
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Lindsay
post Feb 10, 2007, 08:59 PM
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QUOTE(rhymer @ Feb 10, 2007, 03:46 PM) *

...If intentions could be read as they take place in everyday scenarios, anyone with such capability could either attempt escape or pre-empt the situation. (then the truth drug would be needed to prove that A shot B becasue b was intending to shoot A). What a minefield!
What a minefield, indeed!
BTW, rhymer, what are you using as your avatar? I can't quite make out what it is. HMMMM!! Telepathy us your intentions. smile.gif
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Hey Hey
post Feb 11, 2007, 08:10 AM
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QUOTE(lcsglvr @ Feb 11, 2007, 02:41 AM) *
They have a 'machine,' for lack of a better term, that reads the brain waves of those individuals and it actually writes what they want to say.
!@?&%$!
I want one of these. Will save all this typing. If only. Where did you read this? I don't think it quite meant what you state.
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lcsglvr
post Feb 11, 2007, 10:16 AM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ Feb 11, 2007, 11:10 AM) *

QUOTE(lcsglvr @ Feb 11, 2007, 02:41 AM) *
They have a 'machine,' for lack of a better term, that reads the brain waves of those individuals and it actually writes what they want to say.
!@?&%$!
I want one of these. Will save all this typing. If only. Where did you read this? I don't think it quite meant what you state.


I'm not quite sure of the inter inner-workings of this, but that's the general idea. They've tested it so far on paraplegics and it actually typed out...

I heard about it in one of my AI classes here at college. I also read about it in some scientific journal that I had to read awhile ago.

If I come across the article again, I'll make a post of it.
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rhymer
post Feb 12, 2007, 08:56 AM
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My avatar is based on a TV cartoon character apparently.
I don't know which one, but I chose it to indicate the size of my brain in a self-deprecating way.
I spose it's my way of demonstrating that I suspect I have beaten my ego into submission!
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Casey
post Feb 12, 2007, 09:07 AM
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QUOTE(rhymer @ Feb 12, 2007, 10:56 AM) *

My avatar is based on a TV cartoon character apparently.
I don't know which one, but I chose it to indicate the size of my brain in a self-deprecating way.
I spose it's my way of demonstrating that I suspect I have beaten my ego into submission!

It's Homer Simpson
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Yocttar
post Nov 20, 2008, 03:19 PM
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QUOTE(Lindsay @ Feb 11, 2007, 01:13 AM) *

"Old news". Of course, it is!

It was mentioned in Genesis 1, where it talks about the danger of eating of the tree of "knowledge of good and evil". Such knowledge always has consequences--i.e., pneumatological consequences.

But this does not mean that we all understand the significance of this. This is why I ask: What does the term "de-construct" mean, for the average thinker? Anything?


I hope we take knowledge in the right direction
"de-construct" ? Just to say exactly what you think of, lets say you wish to kill someone, deconstructing that same wish: Some one = "John Fabricated", How are you going to kill him, where, when and with what? that sort of thing wink.gif

QUOTE(rhymer @ Feb 12, 2007, 06:56 PM) *

My avatar is based on a TV cartoon character apparently.
I don't know which one, but I chose it to indicate the size of my brain in a self-deprecating way.
I spose it's my way of demonstrating that I suspect I have beaten my ego into submission!


Same here, need ta get myself some avatar smile.gif
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johnster
post Jul 03, 2010, 03:27 PM
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sooo would this kind of thing allow you to predict motor functions as well? I assume that it makes use of some sort of electrode net, similiar to EEG or ECoG.

I would really like some additional information on this. Where was the article from?
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Trip like I do
post Jul 04, 2010, 06:29 AM
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psychometrics
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rhymer
post Jul 04, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Hi Johnster,

The best article I could find is shown here....

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstra...9822(06)02658-3
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utnap
post Jul 09, 2010, 09:52 PM
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QUOTE(johnster @ Jul 03, 2010, 03:27 PM) *

I would really like some additional information on this. Where was the article from?


Here is another one.


Nat Neurosci. 2005 Nov;8(11):1494-6. Epub 2005 Oct 2.
Shift of activity from attention to motor-related brain areas during visual learning.

Pollmann S, Maertens M.

Department of Experimental Psychology, Otto von Guericke University, Postbox 4120, 39016 Magdeburg, Germany. stefan.pollmann@nat.uni-magdeburg.de
Abstract

With practice, we become increasingly efficient at visual object comparisons. This may be due to the formation of a memory template that not only binds individual features together to create an object, but also links the object with an associated response. In a longitudinal fMRI study of object matching, evidence for this link between perception and action was observed as a shift of activation from visual-attentive processing areas along the posterior intraparietal sulcus to hand-sensory and motor-related areas.
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