if you could tell what someone was thinking, or better yet, pluck
their memories and examine them? That concept has been fodder
for countless science fiction works, and in essence is the goal of
lie detection machines. Unfortunately, to date, lie detection
machines and other techniques are crude and error prone at analyzing
memories or thoughts. Additionally, the actual mechanism for
memory in the brain is poorly understood.The field
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may change that.
Researchers have made a number of breakthroughs in using fMRI scans
to capture brain activity and match it to pre-cataloged
images. Now researchers have used fMRIs to gain a
glimpse of recalled short term human memories and even begin to
predict what memory corresponds to what event. The
new study led by Eleanor Maguire of the Wellcome
Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, located in the UK, built on three
pivotal previous studies. The first was previous work, which
by Maguire's team, which showed that patterns of electrical
activity in the hippocampus could be used to predict someone's
position in a virtual world. The second study was performed at
Vanderbilt University and showed that activity in the visual cortex
could be used to identify
and provide analysis of short-term "working" memory.
study came from Japanese researchers, which showed that
visual images of memories or sights could be reconstructed, including
novel ones that the people had never seen before.In the new
work, Maguire showed 10 participants three short film clips of a
woman performing some sort of action. The clips were shown 15
times and then the participants were sent in for fMRI scanning.
During each scan, the participants were prompted to recall a
particular clip in as much detail as possible. After that, the
participants were challenged to a "free recall", in which
they decided a particular clip and though about it, afterwards
entering what clip they had recalled. Each participant did 30
such "free recall" trials.The results were
impressive. All of the participants had the same regions of the
hippocampi and hippocampus activated during the act of remembering.
The researchers also showed that during the set recalls, the brain
activity (visualized as a "frequency heat map") stayed
remarkably consistent. And during the free recall, they showed
that they could correctly predict which clip the participants had
selected nearly every time.The study was published in
the journal Current
is significant as it establishes what parts of the brain are used for
episodic short term memory. Combined with other studies on
spatial short term memory, researchers are approaching being able to
"read peoples' minds" for short term thoughts.Long
term memory remains a more elusive challenge, though. It is
thought that experiences cause changes in the frontal cortex, which
amount to stored memories. These memories can be recalled at a
much later date, even years after the event. It is unclear,
though, exactly how this works. Thus we can be thankful that we
still have some time before thought crimes like those of Minority
other mental snooping could fully be realized.
quote: ...And Minority Report was pure garbage.
quote: And, having not seen it, I suspect Minority Report was pure garbage
quote: So if I go download and watch Minority Report right now, and come back and post the same thing, your point would be.. what exactly ? Because I'll do it if it will make you happy.
quote: MI6's skepticism [about the plan to assassinate Hitler] was shared among some of the SOE's old hands. Major Field-Robertson, the head of the SOE's German section, argued that using such "low methods" to kill Hitler could be disastrous. He said: "It would almost certainly canonize him and give birth to the myth that Germany would have been saved if he had lived." He agreed with the Chiefs of Staff that Hitler's incompetence as a military strategist was invaluable to the Allies. "Hitler has been of the greatest possible assistance to the war effort," he said. "His value to us has been the equivalent to an almost unlimited number of first class SOE agents strategically placed inside Germany."