March 13, 2009

British scientists work on mind reading

Scientists at University College London are working on developing a form of mind reading using virtual reality and magnetic resonance imaging.

Their experiment, outlined in the journal Current Biology, involves looking at neural activity to determine what someone is thinking, the Financial Times reported Friday.

The scientists had volunteers navigate around a room in a computerized virtual reality game while an MRI scanner was used to examine their hippocampus, the region of the brain that is used for navigation.

Surprisingly, just by looking at the brain data we could predict exactly where they were in the virtual reality room, said Eleanor Maguire, project leader.

The experiment is significant because it shows for the first time that memories are laid down in specific structures or patterns in the hippocampus, the newspaper says.

The study's co-author Demis Hassabis, predicts it would be at least 10 years before the technique could be used in criminal investigations.