Someone’s prepared for an interrogation
Can someone peer into your head to see what you’re thinking? Veritas Scientific wants to. But don’t start making a tin foil hat quite yet—the electroencephalogram (EEG) helmet that Veritas is developing won’t actually read your mind. It only detects the brain signals that indicate recognition. The instrument , as large as a motorcycle helmet, blocks out distractions as images flash on the inside of the visor. Meanwhile, metal brushes map the scalp’s electrical activity to detect the subject’s reaction to each one of those images. In particular, a characteristic response called P300 occurs when the brain recognizes an object. This could come in handy for lie detection: If police are interrogating a suspect who claims to know nothing, but he recognizes images of an accomplice, victim, or even crime scene, the helmet would catch his lie. Veritas even suggests that the right slideshow images and questions could help identify an enemy combatant pretending to be an innocent.
Driving a car using only one’s thoughts is no longer the stuff of science fiction. It may not be ready for commercial use, but scientists have successfully completed a road test of the world’s first mind-controlled car.
Created by researchers at the AutoNOMOS labs of Freie Universität Berlin, the technology uses commercially available electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors to detect four different patterns of brain activity, which a computer translates to “turn left,” “turn right,” “accelerate,” and “brake.” The road to this achievement was long, as AutoNOMOS says on its website:
It would be an advertiser’s dream: knowing the exact location in your brain that indicates whether an ad has worked, and whether you intend to buy that cat food or wear that suntan lotion. Now, some researchers claim they’ve found a region which might predict whether viewers will act on what a commercial tells them.
For a study published yesterday in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers asked 20 participants to listen to a series of “persuasive messages.” While the test subjects listened, researchers used an fMRI to record the activity in various regions in their brains. The study was small–but researchers say that, with these 20 participants, they could determine many of these listeners’ intentions by looking at a region associated with self-consciousness, called the medial prefrontal cortex.
The subjects listened to messages covering a range of subjects, but the team, lead by Matthew Lieberman at UCLA, was really interested in a public service message about the importance of using sunscreen. Before the brain scans, researchers surveyed the participants about a variety of their behaviors, including their expected sunscreen use for the next week.