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Reading minds ... or at least brain scans

Computer model knows whether 'airplane' or 'celery' was on your mind

By analyzing brain activity, a computer model can correctly guess which word a person is pondering, new research suggests. Eventually, the results may help scientists understand the roots of certain kinds of cognitive problems.

Reporting in the May 30 Science, a team used functional magnetic resonance imaging to track neural activity in volunteers shown pictures of airplanes, celery and 58 other everyday objects. Based on these brain scans, a computer model successfully sussed out which object and paired word people were observing — and therefore thinking about.

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