Scientists ‘read thoughts’

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A FIRST step has been taken towards hearing imagined speech using a form of electronic telepathy, it has been claimed.

Scientists believe in future it may be possible to “decode” the thoughts of brain-damaged patients who cannot speak.

In a study described by one British expert as “remarkable”, US researchers were able to reconstruct heard words from brain wave patterns.

A computer programme was used to predict what spoken words volunteers had listened to by analysing their brain activity. Previous research has shown that imagined words activate similar brain areas as words that are actually uttered. The hope is that imagined words can be uncovered by “reading” the brain waves they produce.

“This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke and can’t speak,” said Professor Robert Knight, one of the researchers from the University of California at Berkeley.

The findings are reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology.