View Full Version : Superconducting mind-reading helmet

2012-May-31, 09:33 PM
Superconducting devices, known as SQUIDs, have been claimed to be able to read human thoughts. Read about such application of superconductivity
here. Is this true? Does it mean that the privacy of thoughts soon will become history?

2012-Jun-01, 02:24 AM
I think that "reading human thoughts" is a bit of an exaggeration. They can measure brain cell (neuron) activity much more accurately than a normal EEG monitor, so yes, they would allow more accurate measurement of what cells in the brain are firing. But knowing that doesn't really allow you to see the thoughts. We don't even exactly understand how memories are stored in the brain in the first place, so it's not really possible to see what a person is thinking in the sense that I think you're imagining. In some ways it may be possible to get a bit more specific though. I know that recently some researchers stimulated a small brain region in rats and then since the rats froze as if they were scared, they could determine that the fearful memory was somehow stored in that region. But that's a bit different from being able to see it directly.

2012-Jun-01, 05:45 AM
The way human brains store and process data means that the level of fidelity required to actually decode brain activity is going to be nearly impossible. You'd have to get a generalised human model, then train the system to each person by getting them to remember things in detail and map how that causes their brain to light up. Then you'd have to keep the system up to date as the brain reorganises its memories.

The Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_%28memory%29) has an introduction to the models we have for how the brains stores things - note that they are all profoundly associative and so vary hugely from person to person.

2012-Jun-01, 08:29 AM
It seems there is some prospect of using trained association and calibration to enable conscious thought control of a machine as has been demonstrated with prostheses and might even allow control of a plane, say, by thought, but individual reading of thoughts, as replied above, seems impossible. Detecting generalised state such as aware, relaxed, asleep, has been demonstrated without superconductivity.

2012-Jun-03, 04:59 PM
"I will kill him with my spear and magic heelllmet!"

Sorry for the derail, but it had to be said. :)