Can brain scientists read your mind?
This is a grid of numbered electrodes, with many contacts on the brain. Each contact is like a "spying microphone" capturing the activity of hundreds of thousands of cells, says Dr. Josef Parvizi.
October 15th, 2013
11:01 AM ET

Can brain scientists read your mind?

What are you thinking about? You wouldn’t always want the answer to that question available to others, but science may be heading in that direction.

For now, researchers are far from being able to tap into your thoughts. But a new study shows how, just by looking at brain activity, it may be possible to see whether or not you're thinking about numbers.

"The patient doesn’t need to talk to you. They can think about numbers and you can see that red mark (corresponding with activity in a particular brain region) go up," said Dr. Josef Parvizi, associate professor of neurology at the Stanford University Medical Center and senior author of the study. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Take note, this study was done on only three people with uncontrolled seizures - that's a tiny sliver of humanity. But Parvizi said most studies on patients with intracranial electrodes only involve two to five participants, since recruitment is so difficult.

These patients had electrodes implanted in their brains to locate the source of their seizures. Surgeons perform this procedure to isolate or remove the area where seizures begin.

The researchers used these electrodes that had been implanted for locating seizures to investigate brain activity in relation to thinking about numbers, particularly in the parietal lobe. In previous studies, this brain area has been shown to be important to a person's ability to do numerical calculations.

In one part of the experiment, patients looked at a computer screen while lying down and responded to prompts regarding the accuracy of statements. They would press "one" if the sentence or mathematical equation were correct, "two" if incorrect.

Each time a patient would perform a calculation, a group of neurons in the parietal lobe - specifically a region called the intraparietal sulcus - was very active, Parvizi said.

In another part of this study, researchers used a computer to trace the activity of the same group of neurons in the patients in an unconstrained setting. They recorded conversations between patients and experimenters, and juxtaposed the brain activity data to show the correlations between spiking activity in the math-related brain region and quantitative statements that patients made.

When patients were seeing, thinking or talking without a script, it seemed that the natural activation in the parietal lobe tended to occur right before they said something quantitative, Parvizi said. It didn't happen every time, of course; more research would be needed to verify these findings.

Oxford University researcher Roi Cohen Kadosh called this “an innovative study that shows a nice relationship between neuronal activity during experimental setting and everyday situations.” But he pointed out that it is unclear whether the same results would be seen in healthy people, whose brains had not experienced seizures. Other studies have found multiple brain areas related to numerical understanding.

The bottom line: Just by looking at the data about brain activity, it may be possible to know when a person was thinking about numbers.

This is much simpler than trying to decode more specific thoughts from brain activity patterns. There's no way for scientists to know if you are daydreaming about hiking with your romantic partner, worrying about finishing a big project or making a grocery list.

"We are light years behind in doing such a thing. There is absolutely no way for us to kind of record what exactly the patient is thinking because that needs a lot of complicated decoding," Parvizi said.

Instead, this study presents a method of studying brain activity in order to get a general sense of what a person is experiencing through thoughts.

"Of course, it's just a matter of time (before) you're going to be able to decode brain activity in very complex conditions, such as thinking," Parvizi said.

Mind control? Brain controls brain in new demonstration

soundoff (1,083 Responses)
  1. 토토사이트

    After going over a few of the blog posts on your site, I honestly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site as well and tell me your opinion.


    May 14, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. orange county truck shop


    May 14, 2021 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Santa Monica Maserati


    May 14, 2021 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. rv roof leak detection

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 14, 2021 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 사설토토

    There is definately a great deal to learn about this topic. I really like all of the points you made.


    May 14, 2021 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. real estate for sale sandpoint id


    May 14, 2021 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Auto Gallery Maserati

    After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 14, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Cheap Contact Lens Exam

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites online. I'm going to recommend this website!


    May 14, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. stornobrzinol

    Great blog right here! Also your website loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I am getting your associate link for your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol


    May 14, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. houses for sale coeur d alene


    May 14, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Maserati Dealers In Pa

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read through content from other writers and use a little something from their sites.


    May 15, 2021 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. house for sale near by


    May 15, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. realtors around me

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this web site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!


    May 15, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. avana

    avanafil 100 avanafil 50

    May 15, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Maserati T Shirts

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Appreciate it!


    May 15, 2021 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. car wraps orange county


    May 15, 2021 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. fire truck repair


    May 15, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. camper mechanics near me

    Everyone loves it whenever people get together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!


    May 15, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv parks orange county california

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…


    May 15, 2021 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. property for sale bayview idaho

    I'm pretty pleased to uncover this website. I need to to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to check out new information in your blog.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Eva Notty And Maserati

    Very good blog post. I certainly love this site. Continue the good work!


    May 15, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 먹튀검증업체

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your website.


    May 15, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 토토사이트

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 15, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maserati Dealers In Florida

    Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!


    May 15, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 2005 Maserati Quattroporte


    May 15, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. mission hills collision center

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the site is very good.


    May 15, 2021 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Maserati Near Me For Sale


    May 15, 2021 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Internet Marketing Near Me


    May 15, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Internet Marketing Experts Near Me


    May 15, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Aika Mmo


    May 16, 2021 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Google Marketing Quotes

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but typically folks don't talk about such topics. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 16, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Content Marketing Programs


    May 16, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. combigan

    buy combigan brimonidine side effects

    May 16, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. 토토

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the website is really good.


    May 16, 2021 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 먹튀

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand why I cannot join it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 16, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Ling Lucier

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/05/it-is-not-a-pink-slip-it-is-a-money-slip/


    May 16, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Side Door Lock Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Mercedes Winnebago Sprinter Repair

    I like reading through a post that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    May 16, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sprinter Blower Fan Repair Near Me

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something concerning this.


    May 16, 2021 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Maserati Precio 2016

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own site now 😉


    May 16, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Maserati 4 Door


    May 16, 2021 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Handicapped Van Repair

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly pleased I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 16, 2021 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Used Maserati Houston

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your web site.


    May 16, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Pump Windshield Washer Sprinter Repair

    I was able to find good info from your articles.


    May 16, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mercedes Sprinter Body Repair

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.


    May 16, 2021 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Repair Van

    Everyone loves it when people come together and share thoughts. Great website, keep it up!


    May 17, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 2003 Dodge Sprinter Repair

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!


    May 17, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Will Hayford

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs


    May 17, 2021 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 토토사이트

    That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 17, 2021 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Dallas Hy

    I don't know about you people but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/12/airline-livery-of-the-week-donavia-airlines-old-baby-aeroflot/


    May 17, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Leave a Reply to cbd oil for social anxiety


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.