Researchers Able To Predict A Person’s Future Actions Using Brain Scanner

In a case of technology going up against the human mind, researchers report that they can now predict a person’s future actions by using a brain scanner.Canadian researchers are able to determine the action a person was planning, moments before that action is actually done, according to a new paper.

“This is a considerable step forward in our understanding of how the human brain plans actions,” said Jason Gallivan, a neuroscience PhD student and first author on the paper.

Over a year-long period, human participants had their brain activity scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they performed one of three hand movements: grasping the top of an object, grasping the bottom of the object, or simply reaching out and touching the object.

The researchers found that by using brain signals, they could predict, better than chance, which of the actions the volunteer was intending to perform seconds later.

“Neuroimaging allows us to look at how action planning unfolds within human brain areas without having to insert electrodes directly into the human brain. This is obviously far less intrusive,” said Jody Culham, a psychology professor and senior author on the paper.

The researchers said this breakthrough could have important clinical implications for the development of brain signal-controlled prosthetic limbs in movement-impaired populations, such as people who suffer from spinal-cord injuries or locked-in syndrome, a condition in which patients are aware of their surroundings but cannot move or speak.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.