Neuroscientists decode people’s thoughts using brain scans

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A team of neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Austin have made a breakthrough in decoding people’s thoughts using external brain scans and a computational model of language. The method is a form of “mind-reading,” allowing researchers to detect the gist of stories that people have heard, thought or watched. While the research is still in its early stages and requires further development, the findings could ultimately lead to seamless devices that help people who can’t communicate easily, such as those with severe disabilities.

The study involved three participants, who listened to stories while undergoing functional MRI scans to detect changes in blood flow in the brain. These changes were used to match patterns of brain activity to certain words and ideas using a language model built with GPT. By knowing which brain activity patterns matched the words in the stories, the researchers were able to predict new words and ideas and ultimately decipher the gist of the story.

Although the new method raises privacy concerns about neural eavesdropping, the team found that the approach is highly personalized and works only for the person whose brain data helped build it. In addition, the decoder only worked when a person voluntarily cooperated, meaning that a person had to pay attention to the story for the decoder to identify its ideas.

The research has shown promise for future advancements in brain decoding and AI technology. However, more work needs to be done to perfect the system and address concerns about privacy.

What do you think about this technology? Do you have any concerns about the privacy implications of neural eavesdropping?

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