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Prefrontal Cortex

Requiem of the Human Soul, by Jeremy Lent
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Right now, in the early 21st century, the word "neurography" technically refers to the branch of neurology concerned with describing   the nerves and nervous system.  

But by the late 22nd century, "neurography" means something far broader: the graphic (and verbal) representation of a person's thoughts.

During all the PEPS sessions, Eusebio has to sit in a neurographic chair, that he describes for us:

"…A special arm chair, with another set of "arms" extending around the back and both sides of my head.   These "arms" are a few inches away from my head.   I can hear a slight hum around me, and I know that millions of scans each second are piercing through the neurons of my brain, creating neurographic images of my thoughts.   It immediately detects if I lie and sets off an alarm.   They call that a "neurographic event". "

The invasions of neurography into the human mind play a big part in Eusebio's story.   But how likely is it that neuroscience technology will advance so that it will actually be able to read our minds?  Amazingly, those days are not so far away.  

Here are some scientific reports on the most recent advances in brain imaging…

visualizing what your brain sees

Identifying natural images from human brain activity

Kendrick N. Kay, Thomas Naselaris , Ryan J. Prenger & Jack L. Gallant

From: Nature , 20 March, 2008

"Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person's visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone.   Imagine a general brain-reading device that could reconstruct a picture of a person's visual experience at any moment in time. This general visual decoder would have great scientific and practical use.   For example, we could use the decoder to investigate differences in perception across people, to study covert mental processes such as attention, and perhaps even to access the visual content of purely mental phenomena such as dreams and imagery…

"The present study demonstrates that our receptive-field models have   sufficient predictive power to enable identification of novel natural images,   even for the case of extremely large sets of images. We are therefore   optimistic that the model-based approach will make possible the   reconstruction of natural images from human brain activity."


Predicting Human Brain Activity Associated with the Meanings of Nouns

Tom M. Mitchell, et al.   Science 320, 1191 (30 May, 2008)

"Brain imaging studies have shown that different spatial patterns of neural activation are associated with thinking   about different semantic categories of pictures and words (for example, tools, buildings, and animals). We present a   computational model that predicts the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neural activation associated with words for which fMRI data are not yet available…

"Once trained, the model predicts fMRI activation for thousands of other concrete nouns in the text corpus, with highly significant accuracies over the 60 nouns for which we currently have fMRI data…

"These results establish a direct, predictive relationship between the statistics of word co-occurrence in text and the neural activation associated with thinking about word meanings."


"While mind-reading technologies are far from accepted in the courtrooms of most countries, prosecutors in India are ploughing ahead.

"In June, 24-year-old Aditi Sharma was convicted of murdering her fiancé Udit Bharati by poisoning him with arsenic-laced food. Among the evidence presented to the judge were the results of a controversial brain scanning technique called brain electrical oscillation signature profiling (BEOS).

"Developed by Champadi Mukundan , formerly of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, it measures changes in the electrical activity of the brain that occur when a person reads a "probe" sentence such as "I opened the lock of the door with a key". These changes are said to differ depending on whether the person merely understands the sentence or actually remembers the event. "When you remember something, attention is turned inwards and we look for signs of that," says Mukundan."

- Linda Geddes, New Scientist, 3 October, 2008


In the late 22nd century, no legal testimony is admissible unless you're in a neurographic chair, where your brain's being constantly scanned. "No legal hearing takes place without it," Naomi tells Eusebio.   "Nothing that's said outside a neurographic scanner could be legally binding."   How likely is this to become true?  

Already, in the early 21st century, we're seeing the first beginnings of that future scenario.   Here's what a New Scientist article tells us from October 3, 2008:

Could brain scans ever be safe evidence?

Linda Geddes , New Scientist, 3rd October 2008

"Cephos, which started offering commercial testing in the US earlier this year, is one of several companies that claim they can show whether someone is lying using fMRI. Until recently, these firms claimed they could detect lies up to 90 per cent of the time. However, last week, at a symposium on neuroscience, law and government at the University of Akron in Ohio, Laken announced that Cephos had achieved an accuracy of 97 per cent. The secret, he said, was to ask questions in small chunks rather than as a continuous stream, a tweak that allows the brain to "come back to a resting or normal state before you ask another series of questions", leading to clearer results. "As far as I know that's the highest degree of accuracy anyone has managed…

"Concerns …loom large that the US military is using fMRI to screen people it suspects of committing terrorist acts to decide who to interrogate, something the Department of Defense has denied. One thing is clear: Cephos's attempt is just the beginning of fMRI's influence outside the research world."

From Cephos web site:

"Cephos is the world-class leader in bringing this technology to commercialization. Cephos ' firsts include:

Performing the largest fMRI studies

Documenting over 97% accuracy in blind clinical testing analyzing data from over 250 people and over 300 scans

The only company licensed to perform brain based lie detection"

© 2010 Jeremy Lent. All Rights Reserved.

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