Japanese scientists claim ‘mind-reading’ ability in fresh study

© Michaela Rehle
A Japanese professor has discovered a way of reading thoughts before a person actually voices them. The study centered on finding a connection between sound waves made by speech and the brainwaves elicited just before that.

To arrive at his conclusions, Professor Toshimasa Yamazaki of the Kyushu Institute of Technology asked several groups of participants of all genders and ages to recite particular words in Japanese – "goo," "scissors" and "par." The common thing between them is the very similar waveforms they produced, both when spoken and left unsaid.

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According to Nishinippon, as translated by Study International, Yamazaki’s researchers then used an EEG to measure changes in the electrical activity in the Broca’s area of the brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for language. Participants recited the three words as the team made measurements, including those produced right up until the moment of the word’s utterance, and immediately afterwards.

What the researchers found was a connection that stretched from the moment a letter was conceived in the brain to the moment the mouth uttered it. Key to that connection is the so-called ‘readiness potential’ – a mechanism known to change the behavior of brainwaves.

Once the mind consciously prepared for the word, Yamazaki found that the readiness potential changed the waveforms up to two seconds before it was voiced.

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The team says work is now underway to improve the method to decipher entire words and sentences. They also see a growing potential for the findings to be used for researching disabilities, and perhaps even to give the mute the gift of speech.