Mind Reading


There is no doubt that the human brain is the most complex part in the whole body; it is the ultimate controller of all biological processes in the body, in addition to being responsible for collecting information and creating flows of ideas. Science has a great history in studying the brain and trying to understand its secrets; however, it was not until the 1960s that science could make a real scientific leap in that field when scientists took the first step in reading ideas.

In 1968, Karl Frank proposed the idea that science can understand what goes on in the brain if it was connected to a Brain-Machine interface. It is now acknowledged that the brain consists of neurons, which have the ability—through a process known as Action Potential—to create electrical digital signals (1 or 0); a method that is very similar to the way in which the computer can analyze data. This means that the computer can understand some of the brain’s thoughts and vice versa.

Accordingly, the idea that the brain and computer can understand each other, was the scientific basis on which the science of mind reading was based. To be more specific, the scientific mechanism followed by the scientists depended basically on spying on the neural cells and watching what signals these cells create when the body performs a certain action. For example, if the neurons create a certain signal at the same time when the person closes his/her eyes, scientists realize that this signal is related to closing the eyes; following the same approach, scientists started to understand the language of the brain.

In the 1990s, Richard Norman invented a very small array in millimeters size with the ability to follow tens of the neural cells, spy on their behavior, and watch what signals they were creating. Watching tens of neurons was not very effective, since the brain has more than 100 billion neurons; however, it was a huge scientific achievement at the time. Moving to the 21th century, specifically in 2006, Professor Leigh Hochberg conducted a revolutionary and unique experiment where he successfully connected a small array to a volunteer’s brain allowing him to move the mouse pointer of a computer to draw a circle just using his brain. It was a true scientific miracle that, just by thinking about drawing a circle in his mind, the volunteer could draw it without using his hands.

Six years later, another scientific achievement was reached by Professor Leigh Hochberg, when he made a completely paralyzed woman drink by herself. By connecting her brain to a robotic arm connected to a computer, the computer could read her neural signals, analyze them, and realize that she thinks about bringing the cup closer to her mouth to drink, then give orders to the robotic arm to deliver the cup to her mouth.

With time, science is proving its ability to understand the complex human brain. The more we understand the brain, the more we will be able to simulate its capabilities for the benefits of humanity.


Image by

About Us

SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
Continue reading

Contact Us

P.O. Box 138, Chatby 21526, Alexandria, EGYPT
Tel.: +(203) 4839999
Ext.: 1737–1781

Become a member

© 2023 | Bibliotheca Alexandrina