A team of scientists has developed a technique for turning brain activity into words.

Soon, it may be possible to reconstruct conversations — in effect, to read minds. How does it work? Do we even think in words?

UWA linguist Daniel Midgley tells it the old-fashioned way on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

The news reports are kind of breathless about the whole thing:
http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/special-features/mind-reading-breakthrough-is-hailed-by-us-scientists/story-e6frg1ac-1226260246899
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120131175158.htm

but the actual article is much more careful (and much more technical).
That’s where I got the sound file of what the brain ‘sounds’ like.
http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001251

Here’s the early work from the U of Utah team
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071249.htm

What do we think in? More about ‘mentalese’.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_thought_hypothesis

The algorithm can reconstruct formants. But what’s a formant?
http://person2.sol.lu.se/SidneyWood/praate/whatform.html

What if we could detect whether someone was thinking about suicide?
http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/25171/?mod=related