Scientists build mind-reading computer

Hopes machine will offer insight into how the brain stores information

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have developed a 'mind-reading' computer.

It is hoped the mind-reading machine, which can forecast the activity patterns a brain will create for a specific word, will offer a better understanding of how and where the brain stores information and even lead to improved treatments for language disorders and learning disabilities.

Researchers used nine volunteers to train the computer. They were given 58 words and asked to think about the meaning and properties of the words. Brain scans taken when the users were thinking about the different words were then captured using magnetic resonance imaging, which identifies real-time brain activity.

"If I show you the brain images for two words, the main thing you notice is that they look pretty much alike. If you look at them for a while you might see subtle differences," explains Tom Mitchell of the Machine Learning Department, which lead the study.

"We believe we have identified a number of the basic building blocks that the brain uses to represent meaning. These building blocks could be used to predict patterns for any concrete noun," added Mitchell.

The researchers then gave the computer two new words and images and asked it to pair them up correctly, which it successfully completed.

Mitchell said the next step would be to study brain activity for phrases rather than singular words.

"If I say 'rabbit' or 'fast rabbit' or 'cuddly rabbit', those are very different ideas," Mitchell said. "I want to basically use that as a kind of scaffolding for studying language processing in the brain."

Mitchell also highlighted a few problems with the research.

"It can be hard to focus. Somewhere in the middle of that their stomach growls. And all of sudden they think, 'I'm hungry - oops.' It's not a controllable experiment."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Carrie-Ann Skinner

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?