MACHINES which can read your mind and even predict what you are going to say next are being developed by neuroscientists in the US.
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have already found a way to read minds, using a computer program that can decode brain activity in our brains and put it into words.
They say the technique, so far merely the stuff of Hollywood sci-fi movies like Minority Report, could offer a lifeline to those whose speech has been affected by stroke or degenerative disease, but many will be concerned about the implications of a technique that can eavesdrop on thoughts and reproduce them.
In the journal PLoS Biology, the team behind the findings write that it takes attempts at mind reading to 'a whole new level'.
Robert Knight, professor of psychology and neuroscience, added: “This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig’s [motor neurone] disease and can’t speak.
“If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands could benefit.”
The researchers tested 15 people who were already undergoing brain surgery to treat epilepsy or brain tumours.
They agreed to have up to 256 electrodes put on to the brain surface, as they listened to men and women saying individual words including nouns, verbs and names.
A computer programme analysed the activity from the electrodes, and reproduced the word they had heard or something very similar to it at the first attempt.
Co-author Brian Pasley said: “There is already mounting evidence that perception and imagery may be pretty similar in the brain.
“With more work, brain recordings could allow scientists to synthesise the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device.”