That private conversation in your head will one day be open to the public.
Scientists have succeeded in decoding electrical activity in the brain's temporal lobe — the seat of the auditory system — as a person listens to normal conversation. Based on this correlation between sound and brain activity, they then were able to predict the words the person had heard solely from the temporal lobe activity.Those who want to protect their thoughts might have to wear tin foil on their heads.
"This research is based on sounds a person actually hears, but to use it for reconstructing imagined conversations, these principles would have to apply to someone's internal verbalizations," cautioned first author Brian N. Pasley, a post-doctoral researcher in the center. "There is some evidence that hearing the sound and imagining the sound activate similar areas of the brain. If you can understand the relationship well enough between the brain recordings and sound, you could either synthesize the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device...
[Robert Knight, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience,] predicts that this success can be extended to imagined, internal verbalizations, because scientific studies have shown that when people are asked to imagine speaking a word, similar brain regions are activated as when the person actually utters the word.