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Intelligence Agencies Eye Emerging Mind Reading Technologies

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Scientists have discovered how to decode human brainwaves and intelligence agencies are rubbing their hands.

In possibly the greatest potential breakthrough for spy agencies, mind-reading machines are about to become a reality.

According to research published in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology, a machine that can process and display visual brain signals is within science's grasp.

The claim is based on research undertaken by scientists at the University of Glasgow. The tests were conducted on a group of volunteers that were shown images of randomly selected human faces reacting with various emotions like astonishment, contentment, joy, anger and fear. As part of the experiment, the images of the faces were partially covered so only parts of the face—eyes and mouths—were discernible.

The subjects were tasked to name the emotion they saw on the images of faces. As they did, electrode sensors monitored their brainwaves. The brain activity crossed a wide spectrum and changed significantly as subjects looked at different faces exhibiting various emotions.

The researchers discovered that 12 hertz beta waves were associated with the brain's perception of eyes. Four hertz theta waves corresponded to images of the mouth.

The leader of the study, Professor Philippe Schyns, told the Daily Mail that "It's a bit like unlocking a scrambled television channel. Before, we could detect the signal but couldn't watch the content; now we can. How the brain encodes the visual information that enables us to recognize faces and scenes has long been a mystery."

According to the study, the information harvested and encoded the brainwaves by phase more than its strength (amplitude).

The problem, Schyns explained, is that "While we are able to detect EEG activity in certain areas of the brain when particular tasks are performed, we've not known what information is being carried in those brainwaves. What we have done is to find a way of decoding brainwaves to identify the messages within."

In the US, the Defense Intelligence Agency and Central Intelligence Agency have long been seeking mind-reading technology via brain-computer interfaces. Applications have a number of uses for espionage and counter espionage, as well as confirmation of debriefing and interrogation sessions.

Being able to decode brainwaves brings the technology a step closer. The researchers took another major step towards such a reality by demonstrating the ability to read the code of different facial features.

"It is a bit like radio waves coding different radio stations at different frequency bands," Schyns said. "This work has huge potential in the development of brain-computer interfaces.”


Daily Mail

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More about this author: Terrence Aym

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