Chicago — A research team has managed to crack the mind's internal code and deduce what a person is looking at based solely on brain activity, a feat that could pave the way for what the scientists described as "a brain-reading device."
The ability to read minds reliably is still beyond the grasp of science, but the study published Wednesday by neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley builds on a growing body of work on how to hack into the brain's inner language.
The Berkeley team, which published its study online Wednesday in the journal Nature, used a brain scan to find patterns of activity when people looked at black-and-white images of ordinary items such as bales of hay, a starfish or a sports car. When the people then looked at different photos, a software program drew on activity in the brain's vision center to guess which images they saw with up to 92 percent accuracy.
Other researchers have stolen glances at people's secret intentions and memories, and the new findings suggest that brain scanners could even reveal the elusive content of dreams.
Such abilities could have positive uses, such as aiding communication for people who are paralyzed or disabled.