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Researchers Invent Mind Reading Typing Machine

Researchers Invent Mind Reading Typing Machine

Researchers read minds with fMRI scans…

Researchers have invented the world’s first mind-reading system that allows any person to type words letter by letter just by thinking about them, in real time.

The technology will not only allow people with serious motor disabilities to communicate, it could also be utilized to revolutionize the way we interact with devices.

Researchers Bettina Sorger, Joel Reithler, Brigitte Dahmen, Rainer Goebel at Universiteit Maastricht’s Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience Department of Neurocognition, were inspired by work of Adrian Owen who helped pioneer earlier uses of fMRI brain scans to assess consciousness by successfully getting patients in a vegetative state to answer yes or no questions.

fmri scans words in peoples minds 550x412 Researchers Invent Mind Reading Typing Machine

fMRI Scans are used to analyse people thoughts and decode letters and words.

Image Credit: University of California, Berkeley, 2007.

The system works by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the hemodynamic responses in the brain. These responses – movements of blood inside the grey matter of the brain – are tied to mental images, and can be used to indicate individual letters the user is thinking of.

The new system is easy to setup and is operational immediately. It’s also extremely easy to learn. The user simply looks at a letter on a screen, whilst the fMRI records the brains responses and a computer decodes that into a letter.

After going through all the letters the system is able to decode the users thoughts and type out the letters in real time. And although the method is not as fast as touch typing on a keyboard it does open the door for similar technologies that have high application potential “both in terms of diagnostics and establishing short-term communication with nonresponsive and severely motor-impaired patients.”

The system has already been successfully tried in patients. Now the team’s goal is to develop a more portable version and affordable method of measuring blood flow than fMRI.

The paper was published in the June 28th edition of the journal Current Biology.

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  1. With Mind-Reading Speller, Free-For-All Conversations That Are Silent and Still. Science Daily, 06/28/2012.
  2. Jesus Diaz: Scientists Invent Mind-Reading System That Lets You Type With Your Brain. Gizmodo, 06/28/2012.

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