Photo via: Digital Shotgun
Breaking Down the Complexity of the Brain
Imagine a world where criminals no longer have the convenience of personal thought, the camouflage of lying, or the capability to hide behind memories they do not wish to share. The scientists at University College London (UCL) are within 10 years of putting a form mind-reading to use in police investigations.The technology researchers are using to see within their subjects thought processes is a combination of virtual reality and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). While they may be a ways off from digging up a persons old suppressed memories, they are currently able to tell the location someone is within a virtual room just by looking at their brain activity within the hippocampus.
How the research has been conducted so far, is a group of subjects are introduced to a virtual reality room and asked to walk around its different areas while an MRI scans their hippocampus for changes in brain activity. What they have found, is that each area of the room has a very specific pattern of brain (hippocampus) readings from which they are able to use to identify exactly where the participants "think" they were located.
The real breakthrough of this research is not so much the mind reading, but the realization that we are getting closer to one day understanding the course of such memory eroding diseases as Alzheimer's and treating such illness with a specific course of action, rather than the use of minimally-effective drugs.
How is this a subject for Treehugger?
By minimizing the desperate attempts to slow these diseases through the random trials of various minimally-effective prescription drugs, we can reduce the amount of these drugs being introduced into our water supply. Neuro-prescriptions are given out like candy these days, so the more knowledgeable we can become about the brain, the better we can accurately diagnosis disorders and aim a cure that will replace trial-and-error drug dosing with a very specific and individualized treatment program.