February 20, 2009
Brain Scanner Identifies Image Seen By Brain
Some day we will have no privacy of mind.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) looks more and more like a window into the mind. In a study published online today in Nature, researchers at Vanderbilt University report that from fMRI data alone, they could distinguish which of two images subjects were holding in their memory--even several seconds after the images were removed. The study also pinpointed, for the first time, where in the brain visual working memory is maintained.
Don't become too attached to your privacy. If you do then you'll sure miss it when it is gone.
I wouldn't be too afraid of this--as Dennett och Kinsbourne have pointed out, we must separate represented information from the actual information that's being represented in our brain. Studying the temporal properties of neurological activity doesn't necessarily give you access to the actual information perceived by the concious.
Realist, when the authorities someday start hooking us up to these machines, they won't be looking for "actual information," AKA the truth. Rather, what they will be poking around after is evidence of inappropriate attitudes and thoughts. Indeed, it is quite likely that they won't even believe in anything so old-fashioned as the truth.