Mind-Reading Technology Can Turn Brain Scans Into Language

May 1, 2023

A mind-reading device seems like science fiction, but researchers say they’re firmly on the path to building one.

Using functional MRI (fMRI), a newly developed brain-computer interface can read a person’s thoughts and translate them into full sentences, according to a report published May 1 in Nature Neuroscience.

The decoder was developed to read a person’s brain activity and translate what they want to say into continuous, natural language, the researchers said.

Mitchell S.V. Elkind, MD, MS, MPhil

Mitchell S.V. Elkind, MD, MS, MPhil

"This work represents an advance in brain-computer interface research and is potentially very exciting," said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, chief clinical science officer of the American Heart Association and a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City.

"The major advance here is being able to record and interpret the meaning of brain activity using a non-invasive approach," Elkind explained. "Prior work required electrodes placed into the brain using open neurosurgery with the risks of infection, bleeding and seizures. This non-invasive approach using MRI scanning would have virtually no risk, and MRIs are done regularly in brain-injured patients. This approach can also be used frequently in healthy people as part of research, without introducing them to risk." [read more]

Source: U.S. News & World Report