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How does one read minds?

Allan Adler ara at zurich.ai.mit.edu
Wed Feb 10 17:32:00 EST 1993

I'm impressed by the article on page 1 of the NY Times for Tuesday, Feb.9,1993
entitled: Computers Taking Wish as Their Command. Among the achievements
reported in the article is the development of a computer that
can take dictation from a person's brain  by analyzing an EEG to
determine what letters the person is thinking of.

I would like to know more about how this is done. However, I am sure
that this is not an isolated achievement. I remember a friend of mine
telling me that they can tell from EEG's that a person is about to move,
say, his finger, before the person consciously decides to move his
finger. And I remember once sitting in on a lecture at Harvard where they
were trying to figure out from electrical signals what a rabbit is smelling.
So this appears to be the general direction of research in this field.

I wold like to know how one does this. Since EEG's seems the least invasive
technique I have heard of in this connection, I would be interested especially
in the techniques that are used to study EEG's in this way? Also,
has there been a substantial improvement in the technology used for obtaining
the electrical signals in the first place, such as (let me guess) better patch
clamps, better signal detectors, etc, so that with more accurate signals
more accurate analysis is possible?

Since more and more things are possible for the home computer enthusiast,
I would also like to know if one can obtain CD roms or floppy disks
containing EEG's that one can analyze for the fun of it (or are there
ftp sites)? And what kind of software is availble for this purpose, preferably
for free? Here is a practical question: how much disk space does
an EEG take up?

Any comments on my naive questions are welcome.

Allan Adler
ara at altdorf.ai.mit.edu

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