Medical Discovery News

Reading Your Mind-Literally!

August 15, 2023 Medical Discovery News Season 18 Episode 874
Reading Your Mind-Literally!
Medical Discovery News

874 Reading Your Mind-Literally 

Welcome to Medical Discovery News.  I’m Dr. Norbert Herzog. 

And I’m Dr. David Niesel 

For years scientists have been trying to make mind reading a reality… because the applications are boundless. 

Already, wires between a prosthetic limb and the brain allowed someone to control an artificial hand with their thoughts and even feel what it held.  

Now, computers can read a person’s thoughts without any wires. Researchers did brain scans using fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging and artificial intelligence was able to interpret and decode a person’s thoughts. 

The AI is tapping into how ideas, semantics and meaning are generated. In this study, scientists had volunteers spend sixteen hours in an fMRI machine listening to podcasts. 

Since fMRI can “take” images milliseconds apart, they can show how the brain responds to this verbal input.  Images of these responses were fed into a neural network language model driven by an early version of the ChatGPT AI technology. 

The AI learned from the fed responses how to predict what the brain would think about the spoken words. Volunteers were then placed back in the fMRI machine and listened to a new podcast.  

It was able to decode the general gist of the story and in another test, it could decipher the thoughts of people who watched a silent movie. 

This shows that the fMRI and AI were reading thoughts and not just recognizing speech. This will change the life of someone unable to communicate.  

It’s remarkable work even if we can see the downsides such as rogue governments reading its citizens’ thoughts.  Technology is often can be double-edged sword.  

We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine.   For much more and our disclaimer go to or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at