Posts Tagged ‘psi’

MIND READING

Monday, April 1st, 2013

 

MIND READING:

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The baby in the figure above is trying to read mind of mother.

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Prologue:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. A controversial comment indeed but everybody wants to read mind of others and prevent others from reading their minds. Most of us have heard the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” In other words, keep your negative thoughts to yourself. But what if someone could read your thoughts? Thinking about what’s going on in other people’s heads, is something we do practically all the time. Did your boss like your presentation? Why did the beautiful woman on the bus smile at you?  This type of mind reading is so ubiquitous in everyday life.  Mind-reader is a person seemingly able to discern the thoughts of another. Most of us are already skilled mind-readers, using facial expression, tone of voice, body language, and our own experience to infer what the people we interact with are thinking and feeling. As victims of con artists learn to their dismay, our beliefs about other minds are sometimes incorrect. So we land up with misunderstanding and breakdown of relationship. Nonetheless, our inquisitiveness about mind reading is so ubiquitous that I thought why not discuss it.

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Mark Twain, in an article printed many years ago, spoke of a plan that he had frequently practiced, i.e., that of writing a letter to a person upon some subject, then addressing the envelope and inserting the letter, and then tearing the whole thing into pieces instead of sending it. He stated that in a large percentage of such cases he would receive within a short time a letter from the person to whom the destroyed letter had been addressed, answering the questions asked, or else speaking along the same lines as those of the destroyed letter. We have known of this experiment being tried on people thousands of miles away from the writer, and also in cases in which the other person had not been heard of for many years. So there is an open field for research on this subject of mind reading; mind reading not only between two humans who are face to face but also between two humans who are thousands of miles apart.

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Whether we know it or not, we’re all street-corner psychics. Without the ability to divine others’ thoughts and feelings, we couldn’t handle the simplest social situations—or achieve true intimacy with others. Every day, whether we’re pushing for a raise, wrestling with the kids over homework, or judging whether a friend really likes our latest redecorating spree, we’re reading each other’s minds. Drawing on our observations, our databank of memories, our powers of reason, and our wellsprings of emotion, we constantly make educated guesses about what another person is thinking and feeling. Throughout the most heated argument or the most lighthearted chat, we’re intently collecting clues to what’s on the other person’s mind at the moment. “It’s a perceptual ability I call mindsight,” says Daniel Siegel, UCLA psychiatrist and author of The Mindful Brain. “It allows your brain to create a map of another person’s internal state.”

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Nearly everyone has had evidence of Mind Reading or Thought Transference in his or her own life. Nearly everyone has had experiences of being in a person’s company when one of the two would make a remark and the other somewhat startled, would exclaim, “Why, that´s just what I was going to say, ” or words to that effect. Nearly everyone has had experiences of knowing what a second person was going to say before the person spoke. And, likewise common is the experience of thinking of a person a few moments before the person came into sight. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves thinking of a person who had been out of our minds for months, or years, when all of a sudden the person himself would appear. These instances are so common as to be generally recognized without question. These occurrences have given rise to the two common “sayings,” viz., “Speak of the devil and his imps appear,” or “Speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings.”

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Our (limited) ability to mind read has ancient roots, says Ross Buck, a professor of communication sciences at the University of Connecticut. Over thousands of years of evolution, humans’ systems of communication grew more sophisticated, as living and working arrangements became more complex. Mind reading became a tool with which to “create and maintain the social order,” as Buck puts it. It helped to know when to affirm a commitment to a mate or defuse a dispute with a neighbor. Of course, in order to advance our own interests, we still needed to conceal feelings from others at times, and even to lie. “We didn’t always want to show exactly what we were thinking, because others could use that to gain the upper hand,” says Buck. Our merely adequate mindsight, then, can be thought of as the product of a tug-of-war between the need to show and the need to hide our true selves.

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Theory of mind (ToM):

Human beings continuously make inferences about the psychological states of others. Each of us is constantly analyzing our impressions of others and constructing theories on the basis of the cues and information we receive. This enables us to understand ourselves and others and is a key determinant of self-organization and affect regulation. In addition to “verbal” descriptions of people and observation of their actions, the individual seeks deeper, more psychologically meaningful understandings and attributions in a causal framework to explain and to predict others’ behavior on the basis of internal mental states. This kind of theory construction that makes up the core of everyday (folk) psychology is known as Theory of Mind (ToM), a term originating from a study of chimpanzee behavior, but entails verbal and conceptual abilities. Theory of mind (often abbreviated “ToM”) is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own. Theory of mind is a theory insofar as the mind is not directly observable. The presumption that others have a mind is termed a theory of mind because each human can only intuit the existence of their own mind through introspection, and no one has direct access to the mind of another. It is typically assumed that others have minds by analogy with one’s own, and based on the reciprocal nature of social interaction, as observed in joint attention, the functional use of language, and understanding of others’ emotions and actions. Having a theory of mind allows one to attribute thoughts, desires, and intentions to others, to predict or explain their actions, and to posit their intentions. As originally defined, it enables one to understand that mental states can be the cause of—and thus be used to explain and predict—others’ behavior. Being able to attribute mental states to others and understanding them as causes of behavior implies, in part, that one must be able to conceive of the mind as a “generator of representations”. ToM, mindreading in everyday parlance, is one of the subcomponents of social cognition, which embraces all the skills required to manage social communication and relationships in humans and nonhumans. It develops on the basis of certain mentalizing mechanisms and cognitive abilities and gives rise to the awareness that others have a mind with various mental states including beliefs, intuitions, plans, emotions, information, desires, and intentions, and that these may differ from one’s own. Impairment of ToM ability is often seen in children with autism, even in cases with a normal or high level of intelligence and other cognitive abilities. ToM develops fully only in human beings; the presence of a rudimentary ToM in some nonhuman primates and other animals is arguable although they can show very complex social behavior. The evolution of ToM probably depends on the increased size of the neocortex and increased importance of vision in primates as well as human beings’ complex forms of social organization. Normally developing children attain ToM at roughly 3–4 yrs through a progression of stages starting at around 18 months with the awareness that their own mental states are distinct from those of others. The precursors of ToM development include forms of nonverbal communication and gnostic functions that begin to function at birth, for example, physical and emotional contact between mother and child involving reciprocity, engagement, empathy, and imitation. Language is indispensable for the development of ToM because without language there can be no theory. Early language development has been a good predictor of later ToM ability in typically developing children. Although simple forms of ToM are dependent on visual imagery, higher orders depend on verbal thought. In particular, the change from natural concepts to social concepts represents a distinct stage in the development of ToM. If a person does not have a complete theory of mind it may be a sign of cognitive or developmental impairment. Various neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental language disorders, and schizophrenia, as well as acquired disorders of the right brain (and traumatic brain injury) impair ToM. ToM is a composite function, which involves memory, joint attention, complex perceptual recognition (such as face and gaze processing), language, executive functions (such as tracking of intentions and goals and moral reasoning), emotion processing-recognition, empathy, and imitation. Hence, ToM development is dependent on the maturation of several brain systems and is shaped by parenting, social relations, training, and education; thus, it is an example of the dense interaction that occurs between brain development and (social) environment.

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Empathy:

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand another person’s circumstances, point of view, thoughts and feelings. When experiencing empathy, one should be able to understand someone else’s internal experiences.

Empathy can been subdivided into two major components:

1. Cognitive empathy (also termed ‘theory of mind’ or ‘mentalizing’) defined as the drive to identify another’s mental states (vide supra);

2. Affective empathy, defined as the drive to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states. Affective empathy (everyday empathy) refers to intuitive and emotional awareness of others’ feelings, the consequence of which is identification and compassion.

Decades of research on mind reading (or, as psychologists call it, empathic accuracy) now reveal how it works, who’s especially good at it, and how we can improve our ability to divine others’ thoughts—even when our conversation partners may not know their own minds. The thoughts and feelings of others, including those closest to us, are far from transparent; that makes mind reading the only way to know someone beyond the mere surface. It’s the only way to achieve true intimacy. And the only way to love someone for who he or she really is.  Remember: cognitive empathy, theory of mind (ToM) and mind reading are three phrases even though seem dissimilar; they convey similar meaning and may be used interchangeably by psychologists.  

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The ability to infer others’ thoughts, intentions, and feelings is regarded as uniquely human. Over the last few decades, this remarkable ability has captivated the attention of philosophers, primatologists, clinical and developmental psychologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists. Most would agree that the capacity to reason about others’ mental states is innately prepared, essential for successful human social interaction. Whether this ability is culturally tuned, however, remains entirely uncharted on both the behavioral and neural levels. The ability to infer the internal state of another person to adapt one’s own behavior is a cornerstone of all human social interactions. Humans have to infer internal states from external cues such as facial expressions in order to make sense of or predict another person’s behavior, an ability that is referred to as “mind-reading” (Siegal and Varley 2002; Stone et al1998). This delicate balance between perceiving and concealing has served humans well over our long history, but Siegel worries that mind-reading ability is now on the decline in our culture. Today’s obsessed-with-success parents spend so much time stimulating their children with structured activities, noisy toys, and Baby Einstein DVDs, they are not sitting still and being “present” with their kids. As a result, they deny children the opportunity to learn how to get in tune with another person, physically and emotionally—that is, to develop mindsight. A reasonable degree of mindsight is required, he says, for a civil society in which adults are kind to one another.

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How often have you wondered what your spouse is really thinking? Or your boss? Or the guy sitting across you on the bus? We all take as a given that we’ll never really know for sure. The content of our thoughts is our own–private, secret, and unknowable by anyone else. Until now, that is. Neuroscience research into how we think and what we’re thinking is advancing at a stunning rate, making it possible for the first time in human history to peer directly into the brain to read out the physical make-up of our thoughts, some would say to read our minds.

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Mind reading may refer to:

1. Telepathy, the transfer of information between individuals by means other than the five senses

2. The illusion of telepathy in the performing art of mentalism

3. Technological Thought identification by the use of Neuroimaging and EEG techniques to read human minds

4. Body language analysis through psychological means

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Mind reading is defined as a uniquely human ability to infer others’ thoughts, intentions and feelings without using usual channel of communication like talking or reading text. Mind reading can be done with or without cooperation of another human being. When a person suffering from neurological disease (stroke, motor neuron disease, cerebral palsy) is trying to communicate with mind reading device, it is with his cooperation but when a law enforcing agency is trying to read mind of a terrorist, it is without his cooperation.  

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Mind reading in children:

A big impetus for autism research came from an unexpected direction: researchers in developmental psychology were tackling the question “How does a child become social?” The answer seemed to be: by becoming a proficient mindreader. That is, when the normal child (and adult) sees a social situation, he or she interprets the situation in terms of people’s mental states – their thoughts, desires, intentions, beliefs, and so on. What came as quite a shock was that the normally developing child, by two years old, understands that people might be pretending; by three years old they understand that people might know something or be ignorant about something; and by four years old they understand that different people can have different (and even false) beliefs about the same situation.

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Babies love faces. Newborns, for example, orient toward the face of the person holding them and the best focal distance for their eyes is the distance to that face. Within a few months, babies pay particular attention to eyes. Since the eyes are the window to the soul, children learn to look through that window. Children can see your emotions and they learn to see your thoughts through your eyes. By age 4, most children can perform some mind reading. Five month old babies also like being looked at. Researchers found that babies looked more and smiled more when the person they were interacting with was looking at them. Babies can notice even a small shift in gaze away from their faces. So the first point is that babies and adults notice and care if someone is looking them in the eyes. But this isn’t mind reading yet. Babies and young children also learn to track where we are looking when we look away. Within the first two years of life, children will start to turn in the same direction as the adult is looking and will eventually be able to look at the exact same object as the adult. This is generally referred to as triadic eye gaze. In triadic eye gaze, the observer sees that the other person is looking at an object and looks there too (2 people + 1 object = 3 things, thus triadic gaze). Triadic eye gaze probably underlies language learning. Adults and children can focus attention on the same object and then talk about it. Try getting your dog or cat to follow your eye gaze – they don’t even really follow head orientation or finger pointing. Between the ages of 3 and 4, children use triadic eye gaze to begin mind reading. At this age, most children realize that other people have minds, beliefs, and false beliefs. Children use eye gaze to determine another person’s interests and desires. In another study, Symons (along with Lee, Eskritt, & Muir) found that 4 year olds could easily realize that someone wanted the object they were looking at. At younger ages, children can discern what someone is looking at, but they fail to realize this provides important information regarding the mind, interests, and desires of the other person. After age 4, children understand that other people look at the things that interest them. A young lady told a story about her 3 and ½ year old daughter reading her mind. The young girl caught the mom looking at a cookie and asked, “Do you want that cookie, mommy?” The girl laughed and quickly grabbed the cookie. The daughter was right of course. The mom wanted the cookie, but her mind-reading daughter beat her to it! Once children develop mind reading, the skill sticks around. You can see when someone has lost interest in talking with you. You can see who or what has attracted their attention. You can also get in trouble if your conversation partner sees that you are thinking about and are more interested in someone else. We can read minds because the eyes give us away. If you want protection from the mind readers, then wear dark sunglasses.

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Research study on mind reading in children:

Research shows one-year-olds can guess thoughts through empathy. Infants as young as 18 months old can guess what other people are thinking, a new study claims. A study of children from rural China, Ecuador and Fiji found that their ability to see the world from others’ perspectives emerges much earlier than previously thought. It was previously thought that this ability to empathise only emerges in children between the ages of four and seven, but children from different countries develop it at different ages.This study also shows that the development of the ability occurs at the same time across cultures. Researchers say their findings could also shed light could shed light on the social skills that differentiate humans from chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relatives.

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Mirror neurons and mind reading:

Empathy allows us to feel the emotions of others, to identify and understand their feelings & motives and see things from their perspective. How we generate empathy remains a subject of intense debate in cognitive science.  Some scientists now believe they may have finally discovered its root. We’re all essentially mind readers, they say. The idea has been slow to gain acceptance, but evidence is mounting.  In 1996, three neuroscientists were probing the brain of a macaque monkey when they stumbled across a curious cluster of cells in the premotor cortex, an area of the brain responsible for planning movements. The cluster of cells fired not only when the monkey performed an action, but likewise when the monkey saw the same action performed by someone else. The cells responded the same way whether the monkey reached out to grasp a peanut, or merely watched in envy as another monkey or a human did.  Because the cells reflected the actions that the monkey observed in others, the neuroscientists named them “mirror neurons.”  Later experiments confirmed the existence of mirror neurons in humans and revealed another surprise. In addition to mirroring actions, the cells reflected sensations and emotions. “Mirror neurons suggest that we pretend to be in another person’s mental shoes,” says Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. “In fact, with mirror neurons we do not have to pretend, we practically are in another person’s mind.”  Since their discovery, mirror neurons have been implicated in a broad range of phenomena, including certain mental disorders. Mirror neurons may help cognitive scientists explain how children develop a theory of mind (ToM), which is a child’s understanding that others have minds similar to their own. Doing so may help shed light on autism, in which this type of understanding is often missing. Gallese contends that when we interact with someone, we do more than just observe the other person’s behavior. He believes we create internal representations of their actions, sensations and emotions within ourselves, as if we are the ones that are moving, sensing and feeling.  Many scientists believe that mirror neurons embody the predictions of simulation theory. “We share with others not only the way they normally act or subjectively experience emotions and sensations, but also the neural circuits enabling those same actions, emotions and sensations: the mirror neuron systems,” Gallese told LiveScience.

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Cognitive mental states and mind reading:

People mind read or attribute mental states to others all the time, effortlessly, and mostly subconsciously. Mind reading allows us to make sense of other people’s behavior, predict what they might do next, and how they might feel. While subtle and somewhat elusive, the ability to mind read is essential to the social functions we take for granted. A lack of or impairment in mind reading abilities are thought to be the primary inhibitor of emotion and social understanding in people diagnosed with autism. Out of wide array of mental states, one subset comprises cognitive mental states such as thinking, deciding and confused, which involve both an affective and intellectual component. Cognitive mental states play an important role in interpreting and predicting the actions of others. These non-basic mental states occur more often in day to day interactions than the prototypic basic ones (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust). Because of their intellectual component, cognitive mental states are especially relevant in human computer interaction which often involves problem-solving and decision-making. Paradoxically, despite the crucial role of cognitive mental states in making sense of people’s behavior, facial expressions are almost always studied as a manifestation of basic emotions. The majority of existing automated facial expression analysis systems either attempt to identify basic units of muscular activity in the human face (action units or AUs) based on the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), or only go as far as recognizing the set of basic emotions. The recognition of cognitive mental states involves the analysis of multiple asynchronous information sources such as purposeful head gestures, eye-gaze direction, in addition to facial actions. Also, cognitive mental states are only reliably discerned by analyzing the temporal dependencies across consecutive facial and head displays. 

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Research at Cambridge University on how mind reads words:

I suppose you can read the following paragraph even though it is written with imperfect words:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Or rather…

According to a researcher at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.

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However it can be very difficult to make sense of sentences with jumbled up words. Clearly, the first and last letter is not the only thing that you use when reading text. If this really was the case, how would you tell the difference between pairs of words like “salt” and “slat”? Nonetheless, researchers were almost right as people do not read individual letters in a word but rather word as a whole. The idea is how brain interprets information presented to it. The brain does not compute but see patterns. This is the basic difference between working of a brain and working of a computer. This pattern seeking ability of brain is genetically hardwired for survival.

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Before you begin the art of mind reading you have to first understand various methods by which it is carried out:

There are three methods: pseudo-scientific, quasi-scientific and scientific:

1. Pseudo-scientific method: It is called ‘Supernatural’ and is based on the psychic activity of the mind. It involves ESP, telepathy, parapsychology etc.

2. Quasi-scientific method: It is ‘Psychological’ which is connected to the idea that everyone can read minds if they are able to understand certain aspects of the person’s body language and how he behaves in a society. It involves face reading, reading mind through eyes, body movements etc.

3. Scientific method: It is the ‘Scientific’ way where the neuroscientists try to study the human mind with the help of the brain waves & brain scans that are linked to the thought process. It involves fMRI, EEG etc.

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Types of mind reading:

There are three types of mind reading: reading the intentions in the mind, reading the emotions in the mind and reading the thoughts in the mind.

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1. Intention reading:

The concept of reading intentions is of very great interest in criminal justice and forensic psychiatry. Thoughts alone are insufficient here. If Edmund sits quietly at his desk dreaming about how an axe through the skull would improve a tiresome colleague, he is doing no more actual harm than a worker who spends company time on Facebook. However rapt his fantasies may be, they do not hurt anyone as long as he keeps them to himself and doesn’t either mention or perform the fatal craniotomy. There may come a time when George Orwell’s thought crime is seriously proposed as legislation, but for now a man’s imagination is still his own backyard. If intention-reading technology became available, it would have to be able to tell the difference between violent fantasy and the moment when Edmund snaps and looks around for the nearest sharp implement. Identifying the urge to commit a dangerous action before the action takes place is not as easy as it may sound. In monkeys, scientists can already detect intentions for simple movements like gaze-shifting, where the direction in which the eyes are going to move can be inferred from the activity of neurons in specific regions of cortex. Researchers have also successfully suppressed aggression in male mice, using optogenetics to stimulate part of the hypothalamus. Monkeys and mice, of course, are not human beings, nor is moving your eyes the same as beating someone up. The process of teasing out the neural pathways underlying human violent behavior is as yet incomplete. Nonetheless, these studies are intriguing hints of what may be possible in the not too distant future. If detecting violent intentions could be done, especially if it were coupled with mechanisms for preventing such behavior, it could render prisons virtually redundant, replacing them with clinics where anyone identified as an offender is fitted with the monitoring technology. However, such methods are likely to be used, before concerns about their efficacy and ethics have been thoroughly ironed out, by governments struggling with the problems of predicting violence, dealing with addiction, and minimizing antisocial behavior. Thinking about them well in advance is therefore worthwhile. Since, in practice, any such system will probably begin as a tool for controlling violent killers, respect for their human rights may well be minimal; yet what starts with managing a murderer may spread to anyone judged to be habitually violent, and then to the only potentially violent. We should be wary of establishing the principle that anyone, even a criminal, should be banned from intending violence as opposed to actually committing it. The idea that if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be thinking it in the first place, is something not even the lords of cyberspace have yet suggested.

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2. Emotion reading:

Another possibility is that future techniques will be able to detect moods, emotions, desires, and dislikes more accurately than can skilled human perceivers. Since the capacity to assess other people’s feelings is extremely useful and widely variable, the benefits of this kind of enhancement could be considerable; in principle, it could bring all of us up to the standard of highly empathic, emotionally literate people. Work is already under way on multiple techniques to improve emotional understanding for people who are deficient in it because they have autism. Some are chemical (e.g., using the hormone oxytocin, applied as a nasal spray [vide infra]), but neuroimaging is also playing a part. For example, fMRI is being used to detect differences in brain activity in autistic people. Finding a robust and repeatable physical difference, a “bio-marker,” is the first step towards achieving the analytic goal of understanding why autism involves such devastating problems with social interactions. Eventually, the hope is that researchers can devise a treatment to achieve the clinical goal of normal function — and perhaps, thereafter, the enhancement goal of making us all more adept at reading each others’ hearts and minds. Greater access to emotional states, in the sense of more accurate detection, would not necessarily imply more empathic togetherness. Empathy appears to be dependent on contextual features and on whether or not the person’s cognitive resources are already drained or distracted. One important aspect of the context is similarity: Empathy for other people’s emotions, and their pain, is more likely to be evoked by people like us. If a person sees a friend or partner in pain, they will probably try to help relieve the pain, and they may feel the pain themselves to some extent — it works better in women, apparently. If, however, they judge that the pain is deserved punishment, because for example the sufferer previously acted unfairly, empathy can be reduced — at least in men. If the sufferer is classed as an enemy, empathy may also be lessened; in some cases, the observed suffering may even become rewarding. Then there are the cases where empathy leads to so much distress in the empathizer that they can’t bear the pain and react by retreating, denying the suffering, or feeling active hostility to the sufferer who is unwittingly hurting them. Better recognition of other people’s feelings through technology, therefore, will not automatically produce better ways of dealing with them. Furthermore, similarity is not a yes/no distinction but a complex gradient between “like” and “unlike.” How similar to myself I judge you to be depends on what aspects of your appearance, behavior, and personality I happen to value or notice as I make the judgment. That in turn can be affected by what else is going on in my environment. If, for example, I express my delight in classical music, and you adore Mozart, then you may feel we’re more similar than my obvious revulsion at your political opinions might have led you to believe. Empathy between people can change extremely rapidly depending on the circumstances. The emotional contagion through which we pick up another person’s moods via subtle changes in body language, prosody, facial expression and so on, can also be very fast, and these changes are often largely subconscious. Using neuroimaging technology to, in effect, bring them to consciousness might assist people to regulate their own responses.

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3. Thought-reading:

This brings us back to the traditional form of practical telepathy: as “silent speech” or thought-reading. Here again the implications of making such powers available are almost unimaginable. Politics, for example, could be transformed, with voting performed via mentally activated computers and candidates assessed on the basis of the visceral responses they inspire in voter focus groups. Advertising and marketing are already looking to neuroscience; think what they could gain from these techniques. Diplomacy would have to change; so would government, the media, and even science itself. Indeed, it is difficult to think of any area of society that would not be affected should this child of the brain supremacy be born. Classic science fiction portrayals of telepathy tend to regard it as a gift (though it may be a curse, as well). It is often a marker of superiority and/or the next evolutionary step awaiting human beings: One thinks of the many instances in Star Trek, the “group minds” of telepathic children in John Wyndham’s “The Midwich Cuckoos” and “The Chrysalids,” and so on. These stories suggest that, as with many powers, mindreading is dangerous when unequally distributed, but can also be a positive force for social harmony. If practical telepathy of this kind does become available, therefore, much will depend on who gets it and when. Selecting your choice of partner would be crucial. Enticing as the thought of spying on other people’s mental lives may be, there are few Prousts (Proust is a character in an essay who is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust or in his world) out there whose cranial worlds would be worth raiding. If my head, and the blogosphere, are anything to go by, most of the neural chatter would be inane. Ow-it-hurts, yum-chocolate, must-wash-up, stop-it-do-some-work: We’d need some mechanism to filter out the junk from our transmissions. Who knows, the result might be a gigantic mental clean-up and admirably better internal self-regulation. A side effect might be that spoken language becomes associated with lower financial and educational status, as is already happening for Internet abstinence. Speech and its support systems might even eventually atrophy from lack of use. Another unintended consequence might be that people withdraw still further from face-to-face interaction — where they risk being scanned — in favor of safer, more controllable, virtual connectivity.  

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Causes of mind reading:

There are many people that believe mind reading is a real gift or talent, while others do not. The problem is that science has not definitively proven whether or not this phenomenon is real. Many experiments have been done trying to either prove or disprove this ability. Studies have been done on people individually, with mere acquaintances, best friends, relatives, and twins. None have been conclusive to prove or disprove mind reading abilities. Different studies and articles suggest that friends and relatives think alike depending on how well they know each other, including likes and dislikes. One article suggests that comforting someone depends on those skills. Other articles suggest that if the person is just an acquaintance, it becomes a matter of reading body signals in order to interact appropriately. The conclusion in these articles state that it is a matter of body language, not reading the mind, that allows one to act appropriately in different situations. But what of those situations where someone can finish your sentence, or say exactly what you were about to say? There are different schools of thought there, also. Twins or other multiples in birth appear to share a bond that demonstrates the ability to think, speak, and act alike (vide infra). Is it mind reading?  Couples that have been together for a long time seem to read each other’s minds. This is believed to be environmental and the fact of knowing a person for a long period of time. Someone just simply knows what the other would think in a certain circumstance.

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Now let me discuss the first method of mind reading namely, pseudo-scientific- supernatural/ psychic:

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Parapsychology:

The term parapsychology (also known as psi phenomena) was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning “alongside”, and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research. Parapsychologists study a number of ostensibly paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation and apparitional experiences.

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What is not parapsychology?

In spite of what the media often imply, parapsychology is not the study of “anything paranormal” or bizarre. Nor is parapsychology concerned with astrology, UFOs, searching for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, paganism, Satinism, vampires, alchemy, or witchcraft. Many scientists have viewed parapsychology with great suspicion because the term has come to be associated with a huge variety of mysterious phenomena, fringe topics, and pseudoscience. Parapsychology is also often linked, again inappropriately, with a broad range of “psychic” entertainers, magicians, and so-called “paranormal investigators” or “paranormalists.” In addition, some self-proclaimed “psychic practitioners” call themselves parapsychologists, but that is not what parapsychologists do.

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Extrasensory perception (ESP):

ESP is the acquisition of information about, or response to, an external event, object or influence (mental or physical; past, present or future) otherwise than through any of the known sensory channels; used by J. B. Rhine to embrace such phenomena as telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition. Undoubtedly, you or somebody close to you has had the apparently paranormal experience of “seeing” the future or distant events. Most of us have dreamed something that eventually came true, had a correct hunch about event ­miles ­away or predicted an out-of-the-blue phone call from an old friend. The experience is incredibly strange — positively spooky — but it happens all the time. So what’s go­ing on here? Depends on who you ask. A sizable chunk of the world’s population attributes these strange events to extrasensory perception (ESP), a special sense beyond vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. ESP is also sometimes casually referred to as a sixth sense, gut instinct or hunch, which are historical English idioms. It is also sometimes referred to as intuition. The term implies acquisition of information by means external to the basic limiting assumptions of science, such as organisms can only receive information from the past to the present. Unlike ordinary senses, ESP has virtually unlimited range, and it’s experienced mainly as thoughts rather than bodily sensations. The other view holds that there’s nothing supernatural about these events at all. These things do happen, the skeptics say, but they’re perfectly in keeping with conventional science.

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Extra­sensory perception is a collective term for various hypothetical mental abilities. These abilities (along with other paranormal phenomena) are also referred to as psi.

The major types of ESP are:

  • Telepathy: the ability to read another person’s thoughts
  • Clairvoyance: acquisition of information concerning an object or event directly from an external physical source 
  • Precognition: the ability to see the future
  • Retrocognition: the ability to see into the distant past
  • Mediumship: the ability to channel dead spirits
  • Psychometry: the ability to read information about a person or place by touching a physical object

A closely related psi phenomenon, not technically part of ESP, is telekinesis, the ability to alter the physical world with mind power alone. All of these abilities are based on the idea that human beings can perceive things beyond the scope of known bodily senses. This concept has been around since the beginning of human civilization, under many different names, but the modern conception didn’t develop until the­ first half of the 20th century. The prevailing theory among believers today is that ESP is a result of something beyond the known physical world. For example, many people view it as “spillover” from another reality. According to this theory, in addition to the physical universe we are consciously aware of, we all exist in another dimension that has completely different governing laws. Time and space work very differently in the other reality, allowing us to know about other people’s thoughts, distant events or things that haven’t happened yet in the physical reality. Normally, our awareness of this plane of existence is completely unconscious, but every once in a while, the conscious mind picks up on this information.

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Telepathy:

Telepathy is the term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to the paranormal acquisition of information concerning the thoughts, feelings or activity of another conscious being; the word has superseded earlier expressions such as “thought-transference.” Telepathy (from the ancient Greek tele meaning “distant” and pathe or patheia meaning “feeling, perception, passion, affliction, experience”) is the transmission of information from one person to another without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interaction. Telepathy is the ability to mentally control any function the brain controls, hearing other people’s thoughts, scanning the memory of other people and sending thoughts directly to other people’s minds. Telepathy means transmission of thoughts from one person to another person. Telepathy is through the unconscious mind other than the five sense organs. Charles Deveaux was the first character (chronologically) to demonstrate this ability. (1961) Matt Parkman is the first person shown to innately have this ability. (Don’t Look Back)  Peter Petrelli absorbed this ability from Matt (Fallout), but lost it when his father stole it from him (Dying of the Light). He has since replicated this ability twice from Matt (Exposed, The Art of Deception), only to both times discard it in favor of flight (Exposed, Brave New World).  Maury Parkman also had this ability. (Fight or Flight)  Arthur Petrelli stole this ability from an unknown source, prior to stripping Peter of his powers. (Dying of the Light) Draph replicated this ability from an unknown source. (Slow Burn) Within the field of parapsychology, telepathy is considered to be a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) or anomalous cognition in which information is transferred through Psi. It is often categorized similarly to precognition and clairvoyance. Various experiments have been used to test for telepathic abilities. Among the most well known are the use of Zener cards and the Ganzfeld experiment. Scientific consensus does not view telepathy as a real phenomenon. Many studies seeking to detect, understand, and utilize telepathy have been done, but according to the prevailing view among scientists, telepathy lacks replicable results from well-controlled experiments.

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Types of telepathy:

Parapsychology describes several different forms of telepathy, including latent telepathy and precognitive telepathy.

1. Latent Telepathy, formerly known as “deferred telepathy”, is described as being the transfer of information, through Psi, with an observable time-lag between transmission and receipt.

2.Retrocognitive, Precognitive, and Intuitive Telepathy is described as being the transfer of information, through Psi, about the past, future or present state of an individual’s mind to another individual.

3. Emotive Telepathy, also known as remote influence or emotional transfer, is the process of transferring kinesthetic sensations through altered states.

4. Superconscious Telepathy, involves tapping into the superconscious to access the collective wisdom of the human species for knowledge.

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Twin telepathy?

While the twin bond is a special aspect of their unique relationship, sometimes it is endowed with extraordinary supernatural qualities. There is plenty of anecdotal data to support the idea. Nearly every set of twins can relate a story. Sometimes, one twin experiences a physical sensation of something that is happening to their twin (such as labor pains or a heart attack.) Other times they will find that they perform similar actions when they’re apart, such as buying the same item, ordering the same meal in a restaurant, or picking up the phone to make a call at the exact same moment. They may appear to know the other’s thoughts, by speaking simultaneously or finishing each other’s sentences. Commonly, twins seem to share an inherent understanding of their co-twin’s emotional state. Many report a sensation of “something being wrong” when their twin is in crisis. Can twins really read each other’s minds? Telepathy is the process of assessing thoughts or feelings without help from sensory input like sight, sound or touch. In the paranormal world, extrasensory perception (ESP) is an ability to acquire information without relying on physical senses or previous experience. Is a form of twin telepathy or ESP at work to cause these extraordinary experiences?  There is no scientific evidence to confirm the concept. In her book, Entwined Lives, Dr. Nancy L. Segal, a preeminent twin researcher says, “There is no evidence that twins’ similarities are caused by mental communication between them.” Dr. Eileen Pearlman, another twin expert concurred in an interview, saying “There has been no scientific evidence to support ESP in twins.” There simply isn’t any empirical proof that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists. It can’t be substantiated in a scientific environment. Despite the lack of scientific proof, these personal experiences can’t be denied. They happen. It is generally accepted that such incidents are signs of a deep emotional connection that produces an intense sense of empathy, strong enough to generate physical sensations, such as feeling pain when a co-twin is hurting. Twins also know each other so intimately, that they can often predict how their twin will speak or behave. This phenomenon can also be observed between two non-twin people in a close relationship, such as a husband and wife who have been married for many years. One study suggests that children of multiple births are able to “read” each other’s minds because they spend so much time together and are usually raised knowing the same environment and friends. And many twins — whether due to nature or nurture — simply have the same instincts, tendencies or preferences, explaining why they do eerily similar things simultaneously. While the phenomenon is assumed to be more common in monozygotic (identical) twins because they share a closer genetic connection, dizygotic or fraternal twins aren’t excluded. They often exhibit a deep connection also. But what about twins separated at birth? How is it that one knows what the other likes, and can still finish a sentence for the other after almost twenty years of separation?  Studies suggest it is genetic. The other school of thought is that the adoptive parents of the children are so similar to the birth parents, that the children learn the same values and likes as their siblings. Is twin telepathy a random coincidence? Many scientists would say they are. In fact, results of various experiments conducted on twins testing for telepathy show no real indication that twins are any more connected in this manner than others are.   

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Cold reading:

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by some mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, mediums and illusionists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do. Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person’s body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold Reading is actually a set of techniques developed to give the appearance of reading someone’s mind. In fact what you’re reading are signals your subjects, i.e. the people whose minds you intend to read, are subconsciously giving you without their knowledge. Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

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Hot reading:

Hot reading is a technique used when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. In hot reading, the reader uses information about the person receiving the reading (for example, from background research or overhearing a conversation) which the receiver is not aware that the reader already knows. Hot reading is commonly used in conjunction with cold reading (where no previously gathered information is used) and can explain how a psychic reader can get a specific claimed “hit” of accurate information. This technique is used by some television psychics in conjunction with cold reading. The psychics may have clients schedule their appearance ahead of time, and then collect information using collaborators who pose as religious missionaries, magazine sales people, or similar roles. Such visitors can gain a wide understanding of a person from examining their home. The “psychic” may then be briefed on the information, and told where the person will sit in the audience.  

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Precognition:

In parapsychology, precognition, also called future sight, and second sight, is a type of extrasensory perception that would involve the acquisition or effect of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information or laws of physics and/or nature. A premonition (from the Latin praemonēre) and a presentiment are information about future events that is perceived as emotion. The existence of precognition, as with other forms of extrasensory perception, is not accepted as other than a purely psychological process by the mainstream scientific community because no replicable demonstration, “on demand”, has ever been achieved.

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Retrocognition:

Retrocognition (also known as postcognition), from the Latin retro meaning “backward, behind” and cognition meaning “knowing,” describes “knowledge of a past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.” The term was coined by Frederic W. H. Myers. Retrocognition has long been held by scientific researchers into psychic phenomena to be untestable, given that, in order to verify that an accurate retrocognitive experience has occurred, it is necessary to consult existing documents and human knowledge, the existence of which permits some contemporary basis of the knowledge to be raised. For instance, if you purport retrocognitive knowledge that “Winston Churchill killed a parrot”, the only way of verifying that knowledge would be to consult extant sources of Churchill’s activities. If it is found that he did, indeed, kill a parrot at one time, it could be said that you “simply” obtained contemporary knowledge of this fact (by clairvoyance or telepathy, if needs be, of the relevant documents or someone’s knowledge of them), rather than directly perceived – in the manner of retrocognition – any event in Churchill’s past. Given this fundamental logical difficulty, there has been very little experimental investigation by parapsychologists of retrocognition. The evidence for retrocognition has, therefore, been limited to naturalistic cases suggestive of the phenomenon.

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Mentalism:

Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid mathematics. Hypnosis may also be used as a stage tool. Mentalists are sometimes referred to as psychic entertainers.

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Clairvoyance:

It is one particular form of extrasensory perception where paranormal acquisition of information concerning an object or contemporary physical event; in contrast to telepathy, is obtained directly from an external physical source (such as a concealed photograph), and not from the mind of another person. It is not to be confused with the vulgar interpretation of “clairvoyance” as meaning “knowledge of the future”. The term clairvoyance (from French clair meaning “clear” and voyance meaning “vision”) is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception. A person said to have the ability of clairvoyance is referred to as a clairvoyant (“one who sees clearly”). Claims for the existence of paranormal and psychic abilities such as clairvoyance have not been supported by scientific evidence published in high impact factor peer reviewed journals. Parapsychology explores this possibility, but the existence of the paranormal is not accepted by the scientific community. According to skeptics, clairvoyance is the result of fraud, self-delusion, Barnum effects, confirmatory biases, or failures to appreciate the base rate of chance occurrences. For example, in a scientific experiment of clairvoyance, a purported clairvoyant participant will inevitably make correct guesses some of the time (i.e., during some of the trials within the same experiment), simply because of chance. Furthermore, because of the nature of the statistical tests used by experimenters, a very small proportion of all experiments conducted will yield an overall statistically significant result (suggesting that clairvoyance took place at above-chance levels), again simply because of chance. A proper summary of the experimental evidence on clairvoyance should include a summary of all experiments that were conducted, taking into account their probabilities of turning out false positive and false negative results, and making sure that studies are not included in the review selectively. Some researchers on clairvoyance have tended to purposefully exclude negative findings from their reviews, thus biasing their own conclusions. In mainstream psychiatry clairvoyance is considered as hallucination. One skeptic, magician James Randi, has a longstanding offer—now U.S. $1 million—“to anyone who proves a genuine psychic power under proper observing conditions” (Randi, 1999). French, Australian, and Indian groups have parallel offers of up to 200,000 Euros to anyone with demonstrable paranormal abilities (CFI, 2003). Large as these sums are, the scientific seal of approval would be worth far more to anyone whose claims could be authenticated. To refute those who say there is no ESP; one need only produce a single person who can demonstrate a single, reproducible ESP phenomenon. So far, no such person has emerged. Randi’s offer has been publicized for three decades and dozens of people have been tested, sometimes under the scrutiny of an independent panel of judges. Still, nothing. “People’s desire to believe in the paranormal is stronger than all the evidence that it does not exist.” Susan Blackmore, “Blackmore’s first law”, 2004. Anyone can throw out strings of words or sentences or draw pictures that other people can find meaningful and apparently clairvoyant. This fact, however, is irrelevant to establishing that clairvoyance is real. Subjective validation and selective thinking, acting in concert with wishful thinking, ignorance of cognitive biases, and occasional fraud can account for the widespread belief in the reality of clairvoyance. (Depending on which poll one cites, between 25% and 40% of us believe that clairvoyance is real.) Clairvoyant is a person endowed with a special talent for clairvoyance; not to be confused with its colloquial usage meaning “a fortune-teller”.  

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Intuition:

 Somewhat ill-defined term referring to the faculty of coming to an idea directly, by means other than those of reasoning and intellect, and indeed often outside of all conscious processes; the source of these messages is often said to be in the normal, mundane, unconscious, but it is often also said to be the result of mystical or paranormal processes. The word sometimes refers to the process, sometimes to the product of intuition. Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference and/or the use of reason. Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot justify in every case. For this reason, it has been the subject of study in psychology, as well as a topic of interest in the supernatural. The “right brain” is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as aesthetic abilities. Some scientists have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery.  

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Psychic ability, your hidden talent, the sixth sense:   

Psychic ability is demonstrated whenever a person picks up information and knowledge that he or she wouldn’t or shouldn’t normally know. Psychic phenomenon, such as telepathy, precognition, extra sensory perception (ESP), out of body experiences (OBE), lucid dreaming and near death experiences (NDE), are reported by so many people time and again. The information comes from a source outside of the person’s intellect, and is distinct from learned knowledge and experience. The insights and knowledge derived, comes directly from the universal mind and from other people themselves. It works like mental telepathy where one person can read another’s thoughts. Everyone has had that experience more than once in their life, and if they can’t recall ever having done so, it’s because they were not paying attention and didn’t recognize it. Just like hearing, feeling, seeing, smelling and tasting, everyone has it. It is our sixth sense. 

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Sixth sense:

We know that humans have five basic senses or ways in which to detect signals coming from the world around them. Those five senses are: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. There also seems to be a 6th sense–a psychic sense–that many people possess. People with this sense claim to be able to predict the future, sense spirits, and even read others’ minds. It sure would be fun to be able to read the minds of other people. One view of an extra psychic sense is that ability. A small number of people claim to have the ability to read another person’s mind. There are so many other factors that can help a person do this, that it is questionable if this is some sort of 6th sense. Sixth sense, or subtle perception ability, is our ability to perceive the subtle dimension or the unseen world of angels, ghosts, heaven, etc. It also includes our ability to understand the subtle cause and effect relationship behind many events, which is beyond the understanding of the intellect. Extrasensory perception (ESP), clairvoyance, premonition, intuition are synonymous with sixth sense or subtle perception ability. Females, in general, have a stronger sixth sense than men. An extrasensory perception (ESP) ability comes more naturally to women and women are more likely to be intuitive than men. One of the main reasons for this is that men are more intellectually oriented and tend more towards the rational side.

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 Some signs of psychic ability:

1. The telephone rings and you know who it is.

2. You know what someone is about to say to you before they say the words.

3. You get a hunch or knowing about something and it turns out to be correct.

4. You get a sudden urge to go somewhere or do something, and when you do that thing, and it turns out to be the right thing that you should have done. And you are pleased.

5. You get a sudden urge to go somewhere or do something, and you ignore it or don’t do it, and it turns out that you should have. And you regret it.

6. You can understand someone’s true inner feelings even though on the outside they are hiding them.

7. You have a feeling that there is a presence or that someone or something behind the scene is helping you.

8. When something happens in your life, either good or not so good, and you suddenly understand a higher purpose behind it.

9. You sometimes hear a soft inner voice tipping you off about things happening in your life or in the life of someone else.

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The difference between a psychic, an intuitive, and a medium:
The psychic is one who tunes to a higher source to get information that comes from outside of the intellect. This information comes from the universal mind through ESP. The intuitive knows things based upon an intellectual capacity that utilizes logic, personal experience and learned knowledge to arrive at certain conclusions about the facts. The medium has the highly developed senses of both, plus the added mental tuning to another realm of knowledge. The medium is able to connect with the world of deceased souls that are said to be dead (rather who are in a different reality) to those who exist in the physical world.

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Overlapping of paranormal psychic phenomena:

To the present day, no one has come up with a persuasive experimental design that can unambiguously distinguish between telepathy and clairvoyance….Based on the experimental evidence, it is by no means clear that pure telepathy exists per se, nor is it certain that real-time clairvoyance exists. The evidence can all be accommodated by various forms of precognition. Clairvoyance is an alleged psychic ability to see things beyond the range of the power of natural vision or vision assisted by technology. Clairvoyance is often associated with precognition (psychically knowing something will happen) or retrocognition (psychically “seeing” something that has already happened). Psychically seeing things at a distance is sometimes called remote viewing. Since there is no way to distinguish direct communication with another mind from communication with a present or past perception by that or some other mind, there is no way to distinguish clairvoyance from telepathy or retrocognition. Since there is no way to distinguish direct communication with another mind from communication with a future perception by that mind, there is no way to distinguish telepathy or clairvoyance from precognition. There is no way to distinguish telepathy, clairvoyance, retrocognition, or precognition from a mind perceiving directly the akashic record. There is no way to distinguish telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, or perceiving the akashic record from perceiving what is directly placed in the mind by Abraham’s god (occasionalism). There is no way to distinguish telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, retrocognition, perceiving the akashic record, or having perceptions directly implanted in our minds by Abraham’s god from perceiving the hidden record of all perceptions in the eleventh dimension that is vibrating in the intersection between the tenth and twelfth dimensions. You can go on, but it would be too confusing and a bit absurd.

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Psychometry (paranormal):

Psychometry is a form of extra-sensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object. Supporters assert that an object may have an energy field that transfers knowledge regarding that object’s history. Psychometry is commonly offered at psychic fairs as a type of psychic reading. At New Age events psychometry has claimed to help visitors “meet the dearly departed” (a form of spiritualism). Although the majority of police departments polled do not use psychics and do not consider them credible or useful on cases, some authors write that psychometry and psychic detectives were used by law enforcement agencies on specific cases.

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Practical applications of psi:

 Studies of direct mental interaction with living systems suggest that traditional mental healing techniques, such as prayer, may be based on genuine psi-mediated effects. In the future it may be possible to develop enhanced methods of healing based on these phenomena. Psi may be involved in Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” That is, modern machines based upon sensitive electronic circuits, such as copiers and computers, may at times directly interact with human intention, and as a result, inexplicably fail at inopportune times. Of course, the converse may also be true. That is, the possibility exists to repair, or to control sensitive machines solely by mental means. Such technologies would significantly benefit handicapped persons. Other potential applications include improved methods of making decisions, of locating missing persons or valuables, and of describing events at locations we cannot go to because of distance, time, or accessibility. This includes the possibility of psi-based historians and forecasters. Highly developed psi abilities may benefit psychotherapy and other forms of counseling. Psi may be used to provide a statistical edge in the financial markets and in locating archeological treasures.

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Why is parapsychology so controversial?

 Supporters of parapsychology say that parapsychology has remained controversial despite substantial, persuasive, and scientifically palatable results, for four main reasons:
1.First, the media and much of the public often confuse parapsychology with sensational, unscientific beliefs and stories about “the paranormal.” This widespread confusion has led many scientists to simply dismiss the field as being unworthy of serious study, and thus they think it is not worth their time to examine the existing evidence.  In addition, thoroughly understanding the nature of the existing evidence in parapsychology is not easy. While the meta-analytic results are both substantial and persuasive, meta-analysis requires specialized knowledge to understand that form of evidence. For people who are not familiar with statistics, or who don’t trust it (which is usually a sign of misunderstanding), the evidence will not seem very persuasive. Those same people may then go looking for the big stuff, the psi-in-your-face, self-evident proofs, and they will find enormous amounts of anecdotal evidence but almost no scientifically credible data.
2. Second, even if someone wanted to study the evidence, much of the persuasive work is published in limited circulation professional journals. In the past, these were only found in a few university libraries, with scholars needing to request reprints and technical reports from individual authors (a cumbersome process at best). Fortunately, this situation has recently changed. There is now a subscription-based online library which includes all of the journals and proceedings ever published for the Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Parapsychology, the European Journal of Parapsychology, the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Research in Parapsychology, and Psi Researcher – Paranormal Review. It also has some books available.
3. Third, some people are afraid that psi might be true. For example, fear about psi arises for the following reasons:

  • It is associated with diabolic forces, magic and witchcraft.
  • It suggests the loss of normal ego boundaries.
  • People might be able to read your mind and know that you secretly (or unconsciously) harbor sexual and aggressive thoughts, or worse.
  • If you talk about it, people might think you’re crazy.
  • If you think you experience psi, maybe you are crazy.
  • Your parents provided negative reinforcement for your any demonstrations of psychic ability (or past lives) when you were a child.
  • Thinking about psi leads to a medieval superstitious mentality, which will in turn support a rising tide of dangerous, primitive thinking.
  • With ESP, you might learn things that you do not want to know about yourself or other people — i.e., accidents that are about to happen, and things you would rather not be responsible for knowing about.
  • Psi might interfere with the normal human process of ego separation and development. Therefore, we have devised subtle strategies for cultural inhibition.
  • If you are telepathic, how will you distinguish other people’s thoughts from your own? Perhaps this will lead to mental illness.
  • Many people have a self-destructive streak to their personality.
  • If psi exists, how many of my other cherished beliefs will I have to give up?
  • If psi exists, does that mean that a psychic could watch me while I am using bathroom facilities?
  • If psi exists, then perhaps I cannot wall myself off so easily from the pain and suffering in the world.
  • With mind-matter interaction, you might have to take more responsibility for what happens–whether to you, others, or the world around you.

4. Fourth, as noted by Dean Radin in a talk for Google, there is a real taboo in academia about studying the paranormal. Many researchers are afraid to work or publish in the field for fear of ostracism by their colleagues. Some may even be demoted in their departments or lose their chance for tenure if they publically speak up about their interest even if they are only reflecting the feelings of the public majority. To put it bluntly, their reputation and careers are at stake.

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Pseudo-science of parapsychology:

Parapsychology is the pseudoscientific study of paranormal psychic phenomena, including ESP. Parapsychologists generally regard such tests as the ganzfeld experiment as providing compelling evidence for the existence of ESP. The scientific community rejects ESP due to the absence of an evidence base, the lack of a theory which would explain ESP, and the lack of experimental techniques which can provide reliably positive results.  Among scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, 96% described themselves as “skeptical” of ESP; 4% believed in psi. Among all scientists surveyed, 10% felt that parapsychological research should be encouraged. The National Academy of Sciences had previously sponsored the Enhancing Human Performance report on mental development programs, which was critical of parapsychology. Skeptics claim that there is a lack of a viable theory of the mechanism behind ESP, and that there are historical cases in which flaws have been discovered in the experimental design of parapsychological studies. Critics of experimental parapsychology hold that there are no consistent and agreed-upon standards by which “ESP powers” may be tested. It is argued that when psychics are challenged by skeptics and fail to prove their alleged powers, they assign all sorts of reasons for their failure, such as that the skeptic is affecting the experiment with “negative energy” or their cell phone is causing interference. Claims of successful use of ESP are viewed by most skeptics as examples of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. 

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ESP as mere extraordinary coincidence:

To the average person, a dream or feeling coming true, in precise detail, seems too amazing to be simple coincidence. But if you look at it from a statistician’s viewpoint, it’s much less incredible. There are more than 7 billion people on Earth, constantly thinking and all experiencing dozens of significant events every day. Statistically, on any particular day, some of the things some people envision will line up closely with some of the things those people happen to experience. In all of your time on Earth, this will undoubtedly happen to you now and then. Add to this the desire for an afterlife, and it’s no wonder such a large section of the population deludes itself into believing in psi phenomenon. The chances of a hit climb even higher when you consider people’s ability to make reasoned, educated guesses. It’s clear that human nature does lead people to focus on a few instances of extraordinary coincidence as evidence of something supernatural, while completely ignoring the thousands of dreams and visions that don’t line up with reality in any remarkable way. Out of context, the individual hits are very impressive, especially if you start to misremember your thoughts so that they correspond even more closely with reality. Whether or not this accounts for all alleged ESP phenomena, it most likely accounts for a lot of it. 

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Why extraordinary claims of ESP demand extraordinary proof:

 Skeptics are typically unwilling to accept paranormal claims—such as claims of psychic powers, human energy fields involving energies unknown to science, detection methods involving unknown forces (like dowsing), and predicting the future with cards or dreams—unless the evidence in support of those claims is of very high quality. “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof,” we say. Paranormal proponents might question the appropriateness of this logic. They observe skeptics accepting some claims, such as those made by orthodox medical research, on the basis of average, reasonably good evidence, while demanding flawless, near-perfect research before paranormal claims would be accepted. Intuitively, it seems as though evidence which is “good enough” for one claim should be acceptable for other claims as well. A proposition with 90% probability of being true has 90 chances of being true for every 10 of being false. Thus the odds are 90 to 10, which reduce to 9 to 1. A proposition with 20% probability of being true has 20 chances of being true for 80 of being false. The odds (in its favor) are 20 to 80 or 0.25 to 1. Conclusion would be different from similar experiments with a proposition having 90% probability of being true vis-à-vis a proposition having 20% probability of being true; because of the different a priori probabilities. The principle is clear; the difficulty lies in the application. How likely, for example, is it that homeopathy or therapeutic touch really work? Proponents argue that we need to open our minds to new possibilities and grant these systems a fairly high a priori probability (say, 50-50 odds). Then, even modest-quality evidence would make the claims quite probably true. Skeptics argue that these systems violate known laws of physics and their validity should therefore be considered remotely improbable. In some areas of paranormal investigation, such as extrasensory perception (ESP), the research is already often better done than much orthodox scientific research, with controls and double-checks most scientists would regard as overkill. Skeptics mostly still feel that the intrinsic implausibility is so great that nothing short of airtight and well-repeated research would be sufficient to support ESP. The fact of the matter is that many paranormal claims have a very low a priori probability. This means that potential biases and research flaws are more plausible as explanations for pro-paranormal results than is the truth of the claims. So the skeptics’ line, “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof,” is justifiable on probabilistic grounds. The existence of the ESP phenomenon is fundamentally at odds with the known “rules” of the universe, as supported by countless scientific experiments. As much as we might want to believe it, ESP is just too extraordinary to accept without equally extraordinary evidence.

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Fraud and ESP:

Dr. J. B. Rhine was an American botanist who founded scientific research in parapsychology as a branch of psychology and also founded the parapsychology lab at Duke University, the Journal of Parapsychology, the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and the Parapsychological Association. Rhine wrote the books Extrasensory Perception and Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind. Dr J.B. Rhine’s work with card reading and manipulating dice at Duke University in the USA gave research into ESP (extra-sensorial perceptions) a formal scientific base. He has done plenty of experiments to scientifically prove ESP but later on his critics alleged that he and his fellow researchers had utilized fraudulent means & methods to arrive at results supporting ESP. Surprisingly, it is not only believers who were reluctant to imagine fraud, but virtually all skeptics as well were searching for every other conceivable sort of explanation. While the one explanation (fraud) that is simplest and most in accord with everyday experience was dismissed as inconceivable.

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Now let me discuss the second method of mind reading namely, quasi-scientific-psychology of mind reading:

Psychological mind reading means reading body language to understand mind.

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Psychology of mind reading:

You don’t have to be a psychic to read someone’s mind. Psychologists make a living out of predicting what people will do. By mastering the science of behavioral predictions, we can help everyone from advertisers to therapists anticipate how people will respond in a given situation. Unlike the evil villains of sci-fi movies, psychologists are obligated to use this information for ethical purposes. We are trained to use the scientific method to make our predictions. We develop our powers to predict behavior through observation, training, and experimentation. For the average individual, the goals of predicting people’s behavior are far more practical.  You want to know whether to take a risk and invite someone you’ve just met to join you for a meal or perhaps just a cup of coffee. Before you do that, you most likely would like to be fairly sure that your invitation will be met with an enthusiastic “yes” rather than a flat-out rejection.  Perhaps it’s a work-related situation. Are you about to close a sale, land a new job, or want to be granted a day off? You’d like to know ahead of time whether the client, employer, or boss is inclined to go along with your wishes. Even in less clutch situations, it would be nice to predict the behavior of people you don’t know very well or will never meet again. Will the woman ahead of you in line at the checkout counter allow you to scoot ahead when you’re running late or will she call over the store manager and complain about your rudeness?  

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Mind readers are typically highly intelligent and observant. Mind reading is a useful skill in uncovering the intentions and motivations of people. It begins at birth–newborns are more interested in human faces than any other visual, and they are instinctively able to recognize when a parent is happy or sad. Whether it’s a mother attempting to understand why her baby is crying or a police detective interrogating a murder suspect, the skill is essentially the same: read the body to understand the mind. The best mind readers are often educated and highly intelligent (with an emphasis on verbal intelligence), have open minds and are in good mental health. Their skills enable them to observe and process external factors to reveal the inner thoughts of others.

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Human communication:

Human beings use many different channels of communication. Yet, despite thousands of years of human development, we have regarded only the verbal channels as important – what we say and what we write. But based on the Law of Attraction we can realize that there’s an entire channel – non-verbal communication – that is just as important as words, because it gives us just as much, if not more, attraction and information about what people are thinking and feeling. Some estimates suggest that up to 93 per cent of the information we receive about any situation comes non-verbally rather than verbally. So, whenever you chat with a friend, ask your boss for a raise or set out to seduce, what you do may be up to thirteen times as information-packed as what you say. 

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Why non-verbal communication?

We communicate needs, thoughts, and feeling through body language. For millions of years, our early ancestors ambled on this planet, effectively navigating a very dangerous world. They did so by communicating effectively with each other their needs, observations, and desires. Impressively, they achieved this through the use of nonverbal communications; more specifically body language. Through chemical scent (musk glands we still possess), physiological changes (flushed face), gestures (pointing hand), facial reactions (quizzical look), symbols (drawings of animals), personal markers (tattoos), even vocal noises (shrieks and grunts – are not verbal communication) they succeeded in a complex environment (Givens, 1998-2005). So much of this remains with us as part of our DNA and paleo (ancient) circuitry within our brains that we still primarily communicate nonverbally, not verbally (Knapp & Hall, 1997, 400-437).

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Non-verbal communication in childhood:

The child begins to communicate its pleasure in being comforted by the mother, while at the same time, the mother begins to observe and decode every nuance of the child’s behavior. This time spent close together will help the mother and child to understand each other and to communicate more effectively. The mother soon learns the various cries (nonverbal communication) of the child reflecting hunger, cold, disgust, sickness, or sadness, essential for the child’s survival and well being. Likewise, the child (within as little as seventy two hours) begins to follow and observe its mother, mimicking facial behaviors, useful for developing facial muscles but more importantly for communicating needs and sentiments (Ratey, 2001). Within days, if not hours of birth, we begin the process of communicating (crying, sighing, smiling,) our needs and sentiments. Eventually the child will be able to communicate more complex observations of the world around him. As our behaviors are decoded and re-enforced both by parent and child, they each learn to interpersonally communicate more precisely with each other. Eventually, the child will respond to spoken words, even other languages. And yet, how words are spoken and delivered (tone, loudness, speed, sentiment, eye contact, posture) are even more significant than the words themselves (Knapp & Hall, 1997; Givens, 2005). The nonverbal component of speech, in essence the psychology of the message, will remain consciously and subconsciously significant to us the rest of our lives. From how words are delivered we will derive comfort, discomfort, or indifference.

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Kinesics:

Kinesics is the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures — or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole. The term was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement, and later popularized during the late 1960′s by members of the counter-culture seeking to de-verbalize human communication. Birdwhistell estimated that “no more than 30 to 35 percent of the social meaning of a conversation or an interaction is carried by the words.” (Birdwhistell, 1985). He also concluded that there were no universals in these kinesic displays – a claim disproved by Paul Ekman’s analysis of universals in facial expression.

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If you are interested to know what others are thinking, you should have the ability to read minds. Learn how to read minds by following some simple techniques. Though you may not be able to tell what exactly a person is thinking you can pick up certain clues and try to guess what he is thinking. Many methods from basic to scientific are employed for understanding others thoughts.

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Body language:

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One of the most important factors in mind reading is body language. You have to observe the movements of the person towards you and others. The way he moves his hands, arms etc and the distance the person maintains between you and others. Body language not only gives you additional information about other people and about yourself, it also gives you different information. While people’s words tell you only what they consciously want you to know, their body language tells you a whole range of other things, much of which they may not know they’re revealing, or even be conscious of themselves. People’s basic personality, the role they’re playing, the emotions they feel, the direction of their thoughts, their relationships with others – not to mention what they really think about you – body language communicates it all. And whereas people’s words can hide a multitude of secrets, their body language is much more difficult to fake. Equally, of course, your own body language will — whether you like it or not—transmit information about yourself to others. And studies have shown that what you ‘say’ non-verbally is often much more influential than what you say verbally, not only because it bypasses the conscious mind of a listener and speaks directly to his or her subconscious, but also because people quite rightly trust non-verbal messages more than they trust words. The bad news is that your body language is making statements about you all the time, and some of these may be things you are trying to hide. The good news is that, properly and genuinely used body language can state what you couldn’t possibly say out loud, in a way that really reaches other people: ‘I’m competent… I need your support… I like you … I love you.’  

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Overly tilted heads are either a potential sign of sympathy, or if a person smiles while tilting their head, they are being playful and maybe even flirting. Lowered heads indicate a reason to hide something. Take note if someone lowers their head. If it is when he is complimented, he may be shy, ashamed, timid, keeping distance from the other person, in disbelief, or thinking to himself or herself. If it is after an explanation, then he may be unsure if what he said was correct, or could be reflecting. It should be noted that some cultures see this as a sign of respect. Take note of what a person does not say. Avoiding a question, changing the topic through redirection or frequent equivocating (“maybe,” “we’ll see,” “could be,” “perhaps”) are signs a person is anxious to avoid a topic, and thus potentially untruthful. Watch for the person to cross their arms, which indicates that the person is uncomfortable or closed off. Though some people just cross their arms as a habit, it may indicate that the person is (slightly) reserved, uncomfortable with their appearance (self conscious and trying to cover it), or just trying to hide something on their shirt. If their arms are crossed while their feet are shoulder width or wider apart, this is a position of toughness or authority. People with crossed arms are closing themselves to social influence. If they are rubbing their hands together or somehow touching their own body, they might be comforting themselves (which means they aren’t enjoying the current situation).  If someone rests their arms behind their neck or head, they are open to what is being discussed or just laid back in general. If someone is using their arms and hands excessively while talking, it’s a sign of not getting enough attention, or an attempt to misdirect another person through distraction. Listen to the tone of the person’s voice. Learn to distinguish between what is being said and how it is being said, for there is a difference. If the person wears glasses, and is constantly pushing them up onto their nose again, with a slight frown, that may also indicate they disagree with what you are saying. If a person is sitting, feet crossed at the ankles means they’re generally at ease. If they purposely touch their feet to yours, they are flirting!

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Positive body language:

  • Moving or leaning closer to you
  • Relaxed, uncrossed limbs
  • Long periods of eye contact
  • Looking down and away out of shyness
  • Genuine smiles

Negative body language:

  • Moving or leaning away from you
  • Crossed arms or legs
  • Looking away to the side
  • Feet pointed away from you, or towards and exit
  • Rubbing/scratching their nose, eyes, or the back of their neck

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Lie and body language: [read my article on ‘The Lie’ posted earlier in this website]

We lie a lot. When having a conversation with a stranger, chances are we’ll lie in the first ten minutes. Sometimes we’ll lie more than once in that same period of time. These may not always be big lies, but we still do it. We all willingly partake in deception from time to time because it helps us avoid conflict, but often we’re better off knowing the truth. While words can be deceptive, the human body is a terrible liar. This is where reading body language and using your own effectively, can be extremely useful when communicating with others.

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Fake Smiles:

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People are bad at offering a genuine smile when they’re lying. In fact, a genuine smile (often referred to as a Duchenne smile), is often said to be impossible to fake. This is why many of us end up with awkward family photos. We may think we look like we’re smiling, but to most anyone it looks like we’re faking it. This is because your smile is in your eyes, or, more specifically, the wrinkles around them. You display a few crow’s feet when you smile genuinely because your smile pushes up your cheeks which bunch up the skin near your eyes. It’s fairly hard to fake this. You need to feel some sort of genuine happy emotion at the time to do it, and when you’re uncomfortable this is next to impossible. This is why a non-genuine smile can be a helpful indicator of a lie in progress.

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Eyes:

Eye contact:

An easy way to tell if someone is nervous or lying is through eye contact. If a person is avoiding eye contact, then this is normally attributed to being frightened. If the conversation is casual and there is no overt reason for nervousness, then it is an indicator that the person may not be forthright.

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Pupil:

You have to keenly watch the eyes and the pupils as to how they expand and contract based on their interest and arousal. The size and speed of the pupil dilation give you a lot of information about the person’s movements and thoughts. The first thing you have to do is watch the size of the pupil. If the person is not interested you can see the size of the pupil shrink. Generally, a shrinking eyeballs means that a person is not interested. Look into the person’s eyes to evaluate pupil size, which can be linked to different emotional states of mind. Pupil dilation is triggered by the autonomic nervous system, which also produces the changes in salivation, respiration, and sweating, according to pyschologist Paul Ekman who has written numerous books on the subject of mind reading. Pupil dilation is virtually impossible to control, Ekman notes; it is an involuntary reaction and powerful tool in evaluating a person’s thoughts and emotional state. When actively engaged emotionally (feeling love, interest or fear), a person’s pupils become enlarged. When the pupils retract, a person is possibly indifferent. But sometimes you may also be tricked by the poor lighting which can cause the enlargement. If the person is interested you can start talking. Describe about various things related to him. You have to carefully watch as to how he reacts when you mention certain things. For example, tell him something about his college, talk to him about his friends etc. Note the times when his eyeballs shrink. Using this technique you can fairly be certain about the likes and dislikes of a person.

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Visual accessing cues: [read my article on ‘The Lie’]

 Reading Basic Eye Movements:

Looking straight ahead:

Straight at you… good, continuous looking without signs of looking away… often not so good, disinterest or lying. Exception: the gaze of 2 people deeply in love

Looking Up and to the Left:

Looking up is thinking, left and up is thinking about experiences and emotions

Looking to the Left:

Looking at the ears, is remembering a sound. Person could also see movement to the left, or checking how to get away from you

Looking to the Right and Up:

Up and Right is about remembering recent experiences and thinking logically

Looking Up:

Up means careful thinking, weighing both emotion and logic… good! Or they’re saying “My God!” with their eyes!

Looking to right and lower:

A shift to the lower right means they’re either talking to themselves, or thinking about what they’re going to say next

Looking Down:

Constantly looking down signals “Submissive”. It could also be that this person feels guilty, not wanting to face you. Or general disinterest. Usually not a good sign.

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Eye movement and right v/s left brain:

Remember, left brain control eye movement to right side and vice versa.  If suspect’s eyes shift to his right, he is using the left part of the brain (logic, detail, words, present n past, acknowledgement, reality based) which is more truthful. Glancing to his left means he is using the right side of the brain (creativeness, imaginative, fantasy based, risk taking, spatial perception, present possibilities, impetuousness) which could mean making up little things while lying. Remember, looking to right means recall( truth) and looking to left means reconstruction (lies) in a right handed person and it is reversed in left handed person.

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Reading the mind in eyes test [RMET]:

Please follow the link below to test your mind reading ability:

http://www.questionwritertracker.com/quiz/61/Z4MK3TKB.html 

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Being able to “mind-read” is a unique and important human trait. Being high in emotional intelligence and empathy helps us smoothly navigate our social world and communicate effectively with other people. Not everyone, however, is an emotion-decoding master. The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test is meant to test Theory of Mind (ToM) or the ability to recognize and understand another person’s mental state. It’s supposed to be a more advanced test than “Fear, Anger, Joy“, which tests simple emotion recognition. Nowadays the test that psychologists use to assess people’s level of emotional recognition (also called empathy, emotion decoding, theory of mind, or “mind reading”) is the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” task.  During this task, you look at 36 different pairs of eyes and for each you pick one emotion out of four possible choices (though they aren’t all actually emotions, unless someone added “joking,” “flirtatious and “decisive” to the emotion dictionary). The typical score is in the range 22-30. If you scored over 30, you are very accurate at decoding a person’s facial expressions. A score under 22 indicates you find this quite difficult. This task was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen who researches autism. Baron-Cohen found that people who were autistic did worse on this task than healthy controls, as do people with frontotemporal dementia. Researchers have also found that women tend to do better on this task than men, and people are more successful at the task if the eyes are from someone of the same culture versus another culture. They’ve even found that babies exposed to higher rates of fetal testosterone do worse on this task as children than those with lower rates of fetal testosterone. Perhaps most impressively, in one study when men were given intranasal oxytocin, they performed better on the task than men who didn’t have oxytocin shot up their nose (vide infra). This difference was particularly pronounced for the more difficult emotion decoding items. There is a fact that recognizing an expression is one thing; attributing causation is another thing entirely. Facial expressions are supposed to provide the clues that allow us to understand what another person is experiencing (the content of their mental state). Recognizing an expression of anticipation is the first step; deducing what the other person is anticipating should logically follow. Together these make up the concept of Theory of Mind. To say that the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test is a measure of Theory of Mind is only partially true, especially for those of us on the spectrum. The second step of the process–understanding the content of the other person’s mental state–is where we often go wrong.

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Pros and Cons of the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test:

Pros:

  • Tests recognition of complex mental states
  • Balanced presentation of male and female expressions
  • Offers subtly similar answer options to increase difficulty level
  • Self-scoring
  • Provides a list of items that were answered incorrectly (with the correct answers)

Cons:

  • Validation study relied on a small sample size
  • Sets up artificial constraints not present in real life (limited choice of options, time to study “frozen” expressions)
  • Allows for unlimited time to answer each item

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Facial expressions:

People employ a variety of nonverbal communication cues to infer underlying mental states, including voice, posture and the face. The human face in particular provides one of the most powerful, versatile and natural means of communicating a wide array of mental states. Facial expressions are the universal language of the human soul. Understanding what they mean can determine whether you land the job, close the deal, make friends, win fights, talk her into dinner at your place, charm her pants off, charm her parents, live surrounded by people you love—or die alone. Another important aspect of mind reading is to monitor facial expressions. Examine the movements of the eyebrows, locations of tiny sweat beads, marks and lines showing frowns, shape of the lips while doing different activities like talking, laughing, eating, reading etc. Carefully watch how the person speaks and how he delivers each word. Even CIA polygraphists do no better than guesswork at the trickier business of using facial expressions to separate straight talk from lies. Words are part of the problem. They distract us from what faces would tell us if we paid attention. So your girlfriend says, “I’m fine,” and you say, “Okay, cool,” without noticing the irritated little tightening at one corner of her mouth. Or you fail to pick up the disappointed arch of her eyebrows when she unwraps her birthday present. In one lie-detection study, patients whose cerebral damage made them less attentive to speech became better at reading facial expressions. They picked out the liars 73 percent of the time—an astonishing accuracy rate. Shutting off the words helped them focus on what faces revealed.

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Micro-expressions better than macro-facial expressions:

Micro-expressions are split second facial expressions that flash on a person’s face for a less than a 25th of a second and reveal the person’s true emotion underneath their façade. While an innocent person would go on the offensive (usually responding with anger, which will usually be revealed in a micro-expression directly after you say you don’t believe them), a guilty person will often go immediately on the defensive (usually by saying something to reassure their facts, such as deflections). When people lie, they try to hide the fact through altering their voluntary facial expressions (macro expressions) and body language to appear in harmony with their words. Because of this, the face will hold accurate as well as misleading information. Deception will most always show up in the face as an inconsistency between the micro and macro expressions. Micro-expressions are almost impossible to catch with the naked eye. Slow motion video playback, yes, can catch micro-expressions.

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Mind reading glasses (detecting blood flows under facial skin):

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The figure above shows Mind-reading glasses that allow you to see other people’s emotions.

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Humans are expert communicators, but communication involves a lot more than just language. We also pick up a lot of cues from others’ behavior, especially from others’ faces. For instance, psychologists have identified at least six universal facial expressions. We also express a lot when our faces involuntarily change color or temperature, such as when we blush or turn pale or sweat. But while many of these involuntary facial cues are invaluable for communicating our emotions to others, they can also be subtle. They can be easily misinterpreted, or even overlooked entirely. But the rules of the game could soon change, thanks to a remarkable technological advancement by researchers at 2AI Labs. They have developed specialized glasses that allow their wearer to perceive the subtle facial cues of others with acuity never possible before. The glasses are specially tinted to enhance a person’s color vision, essentially allowing a wearer to more accurately perceive the oxygenation and hemoglobin variations in another person’s face. In other words, the glasses are a mind-reading game-changer. They basically put everyone’s emotions on full display to anyone who knows how to interpret oxygen and blood pooling patterns in the face. Potential applications for the glasses, called O2Amps (O2 for oxygen, Amp for amplification), are both fun and frightening. For one, they could serve as wearable lie detectors, which could help law enforcement officers during interrogations. The glasses could also assist psychologists and counselors in identifying the emotional states of their patients. Moreover, because the glasses help their wearers see blood under the skin; they could help nurses identify veins, as well as pinpoint trauma and bruising otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Of course, each of these potential applications comes with a fair share of drawbacks. For instance, there are serious legal and ethical questions that need to be asked about the invasion of privacy and other rights violations. Also, for fun they could be used, but remember: others could also easily use them against you, too.

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Keys to Mind Reading:

1. Body language clusters:

Body language works so well because you are accessing the deepest emotions and thoughts of others by reading their physical expressions. People have an inborn tendency to express themselves through gestures and facial expressions – we can’t modify this tendency. But it takes more than just being observant to be able to effectively read body language. To be able to understand what the other person is really trying to say to you, you must be able to read gestures and expressions in clusters. A body language cluster is similar to a verbal sentence. And like a verbal sentence, a nonverbal sentence needs at least three elements to work. So before making a conclusion, you need to link at least three distinct body language signals coming from the other person. You also need to determine if the signals you are picking up are actually related.

2. Look for Consistency Between Nonverbal Language & Verbal Language:

How will you know if the other person has already been persuaded or influenced? Check for congruence between what he’s saying and what he’s expressing (unknowingly) through his body language. Most people don’t realize that the bulk of their message is contained in nonverbal language, so they keep their guard down when it comes to expressing themselves physically. People are very guarded about what they say but they don’t know how to conceal what their facial expressions and physical gestures convey. This is one of the biggest advantages of master influencers who are adept in both verbal communication and nonverbal communication. You would be able to monitor both channels of communication and check if the other person is confidently expressing the same thing through both channels. If the person in front of you is saying “I believe you” but his body language is saying “I don’t believe a word you’re saying” then you may have to uncover the hidden objections and counter these objections to be able to influence the other person.

3. Read Nonverbal Messages in Context:

You can’t make sense of words (verbal or otherwise) if you don’t see the context in which the words were spoken. Nonverbal messages must also be read and understood within their proper contexts. For example, if the other party suddenly shivered in front of you, does it mean that what you were saying actually spooked the other party? If you read the gesture/expression in isolation, you may come up with that conclusion (i.e. you are a scary speaker, indeed). But if you look at other potential causes of the behavior, you will be able to come up with a more informed conclusion as to what the other person is really trying to say. Not all body language signals are significant (the same way that not all our words are groundbreaking and important). You also have to be able to filter through the mess of expressions coming from the other party and trace the ones that are relevant to the matter at hand.

4. Separate Fake Nonverbal Signals From Genuine Signals:

Is it possible to actually fake body language? The simple answer is yes it’s possible to fake body language but it would take a very long time before a person can control all of the macro and micro signals given off by the body during social interactions. You see, we can only control a very small percentage of all the body signals that we give out when we speak to someone. You can smile, but if you absolutely dislike what is in front of you then your body will immediately work to reflect this truth. People who make it a habit to deceive people usually fake most signals successfully – but not all. There are still many nonverbal signals that we have no control over and as a master influencer, it’s your job to catch these signals. It’s hard to fake body when the receiver of the signals is a woman because women are generally more perceptive than males. Males on the other hand, can learn to be more perceptive so they don’t become easy prey to con men and other deceptive individuals.

5. Get to know the other person:

 Our empathic accuracy improves with how well we know our conversational partner. If you interact with someone over the course of at least a month, you’ll be much better able to read their thoughts and feelings. This “acquaintanceship effect” comes about in two ways: First, after observing our partners over time and in different situations, we become better able to interpret their words and actions; and second, we learn more about what’s going on in their lives and can use this knowledge to put the cues they give us in greater context.

6. Ask for feedback:

Studies demonstrate that we can quickly improve our empathic accuracy by finding out whether our guesses are on target. You can solicit feedback from people by saying things like, ‘It sounds like what I’m hearing is that you’re angry—could that be right?’  

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Reading woman’s mind by man:

A popular belief — and an incorrect one — is that women are better than men at reading people. But studies have shown that the difference isn’t in ability but in motivation (vide infra). Meaning that if you’re motivated to read her mind, you’ll do a better job. Delight, glee, euphoria — all these positive emotions fall under the happiness umbrella. This means that if you can spot a true smile, you’ll have the general idea. Look for the Duchenne smile — corners of the lips turned up, cheeks pulled higher, skin around the eyes crinkled. People can try to fake the crinkly skin around the eyes, but it will look strange and squinty, not happy. When she’s shocked, she raises her eyebrows and widens her eyes and mouth. So if you see those signs when you offer to pay for dinner, you’ll know she thinks you’re stingy. “Good” or “bad” all depends on context. Fear can resemble surprise in that the eyes widen and the eyebrows rise. But the lips can reveal the difference: When she’s trying to suppress fear, her lips will stretch flat across her face in a line. Be careful not to make any assumptions if you see she’s afraid. She might be afraid that you’re catching her in a lie, or she might be afraid that you think she’s lying when she’s not. One of the earliest signs of anger is a slight pressing and narrowing of the lips. But pay close attention to the symmetry of her features. Contempt is revealed by an asymmetrical expression, where one lip corner is tightened. Contempt is also one of her two expressions that would most likely predict the demise of your relationship. The other is disgust, characterized by nose-wrinkling and raising of the upper lip, as if she’s smelling something nasty — like a rotten relationship. Watch her arms and legs. Many people believe that agitation is a sign that someone’s lying — but if she’s normally fidgety and her arms and legs are stone-still for once, that’s when you should be concerned. Any noticeable change in behavior can be a sign that she’s lying.  

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Reading man’s mind by woman:

  • If you want to read his mind, unravel his hidden secrets, you might unlock the answer by constantly gazing into his eyes. After all, eyes are the windows to the soul! Make direct eye contact, he might either look away instantly out of immense coyness or rivet his gaze on you for a considerable amount of time. He might react by winking seductively which is a dead giveaway of his burning desire to have you in his arms. Notice that he might be staring at you from the corner of his eye or observe the quick eye-angle changes. Similarly, enlarged pupils strongly indicate a high level of physical attraction and interest.
  • How do you interpret signs such as poor eye contact, frequent stuttering, fumbling with words and random objects, mispronunciation, weird body movements? You remember him before and this behavior is a new development. Well, depending on the context, these gestures could mean absolutely different things. He might be hiding something from you; hence the prominent anxiety or he might have a giant sized crush on you? On the other hand, his insecurities and low self esteem might also materialize in these ways. These are indeed negative signals most of the time, which clearly implies that the guy feels uncomfortable around you and would rather avoid you.
  • Pay attention to the positive body language signals. This could be intentionally accidental, if not direct touching, extended eye contact or even a cute wide smile! The moment a man has his eye on somebody, he immediately becomes more self conscious and hence, perturbed about his overall appearance. Does he adjust his tie the moment you walk through the door? Maybe he wants to look prim and proper in order to win your admiration. He obviously wants to know you better and is hence vying for your attention by looking more attractive.
  • Whenever you notice a man standing with his chest sticking out and hands at the side, just like the cartoon character Johnny Bravo, it’s a sign! He wants to portray himself to be this super-confident macho man who is on the hunt for a stunning bombshell of a lady! It may not necessarily appeal to a woman but every man suffers from the delusion that girls fancy the Alpha Male Casanovas with bulging biceps and the sexy swagger. On the other hand, if you come across a guy who folds his arms across his chest and looks downwards signifies the perfect opposite. A guy sporting a closed stance is most definitely not ready for romance.
  • Try and concentrate on the direction in which the man’s body is pointing towards. To what are his feet pointing? What about his face and legs and so on? It is a common scientific belief and fact that a man who is enamored by a woman, he tends to subconsciously point himself in her direction. Conversely, you can easily gather that he’s not the least bit interested if his legs and feet are pointing in the opposite direction, far away from you. He most probably wishes to keep a good distance!
  •  Did that cute guy at the grocery store really make a move on you? Or was it simply a figment of your imagination? Think! You do have a sense of intuition. It’s just the brimming excitement that has compromised your rationalizing abilities. Did he stare at your legs? Did he wink? Did he make a wisecrack? Did he flex his muscles or try to look taller? Did he step out of the store with an unusually broad grin on his face? If it’s a straight yes to all these questions, then you have a new admirer!
  • Is he a completely different person when he’s with you than what he is with his friends and family? Introspect. Speculate. Look back at the instances where he definitely wasn’t being himself. Is he less goofy when he is with you? Did he open the car window for you to exit, when he refused to do so for his own grandmother? Perhaps, the only logical deduction is that he likes you and is willing to walk the extra mile to win your heart!
  • There’s nothing more tormenting than beating around the bush. Girls love to play that game more than the men. However, when the men give it a shot, they’re pretty good at it! They leave the woman hanging by a fragile thread! Note that the man wouldn’t take the effort to beat around the bush, if he wasn’t interested (unless, he made a bet to ride you in circles). Actions speak louder than words, indeed!

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Is woman a better mind reader than man?

When researchers were doing research on empathic accuracy (everyday mind reading) about 20 years ago, they expected to find that women would be more accurate than men at inferring the specific content of other people’s thoughts and feelings. This expectation was based on the cultural stereotype of “women’s intuition.” Surprisingly, however, when they tested for evidence of this expected gender difference, they kept failing to find any support for it.  In seven straight studies, the average empathic accuracy score of female participants was not significantly different from the average score of male participants. So where was the evidence for the presumed superiority of “women’s intuition”?  They didn’t find it in a study of the initial interactions of opposite-sex strangers. They didn’t find it in a study of the initial interactions of same-sex (female-female versus male-male) strangers. They didn’t find it in a study of all-male groups versus all-female groups. And it failed to appear regardless of whether the study had been conducted in Texas, in North Carolina, or in New Zealand.  All these studies asking them to rate the accuracy of their empathic inferences was to make clear to them that they were measuring participants’ empathic ability–an ability at which women (according to the women’s intuition stereotype) are supposed to excel. Researchers then conducted another ‘new study’ using the “new” procedure (the one requiring self-ratings of empathic accuracy) and the significant gender difference re-appeared.  Aha!  They could “turn off” the gender difference by removing the cue that signaled that this was an empathic ability task, and they could “turn on” the same difference by restoring that cue. This pattern of results suggested that although the average woman doesn’t have more empathic ability than the average man, they could create a heightened level of motivation in the women by reminding them that the task was one in which women should excel. When researchers re-analyzed their findings with this hypothesis in mind, they found strong evidence that the gender difference they had occasionally observed was indeed based on differential motivation rather than differential ability. Women, on average, don’t have greater empathic ability than men, but they do try harder to live up to their stereotype in situations in which they are reminded of it. Women don’t have more empathic ability; they just try harder. Men as a group aren’t poor “everyday mind readers”; they are simply unmotivated ones. 

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Mind reading in relationship:

Mind reading is simply assuming that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what the other person in your relationship is thinking. We are all guilty of doing it, some more than others. The problem is that mind reading is the no.1 cause of divorce. Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner just knew what you needed all the time? If at precisely the right moment he would just be there with the perfect compliment or item or whatever without you even asking? Dream on. Even the most communicative of couples are unable to completely anticipate each other’s needs. The desire to have one’s needs met, however, is deeply rooted in your past. The concept of mind reading may well be a vestige of childhood. At that time in your life, you expected your parents to anticipate your every need, perhaps before you were even cognizant of what you wanted. As adults, however, we must be responsible for our own needs. That’s part of what it means to be a grownup. But in that same vein, if our needs involve our partner, it is up to us to speak up. Unfortunately, we all-too-often don’t. The problem is that within silence lives a major precipitating factor for relationship failure. Some would contend that being in a relationship allows them the privilege of being less forthcoming in their efforts to communicate than they might be with casual contacts precisely because their partner knows them better (and therefore presumably can fill-in-the-blanks when things are not communicated perfectly). The only problem with that theory is that if you’re using your communication skills more effectively with strangers than you are with your nearest and dearest, well, soon your partner won’t be your closest confidant any longer. Additionally, people in relationships tend to consistently overestimate the ability of their partners to anticipate their behavior (and vice versa). Research has supported the claim that closeness does not automatically equal comprehension. Even in the simplest predictions of one another’s behavior, couples are usually wrong. In a report published in Marriage and Family Living, researchers asked spouses which one of them would tend to talk more during a decision-making process dealing with how they would spend a hypothetical gift of several hundred dollars. The session was taped so that the actual amount of talking done by each could be measured. Only seventeen out of fifty individuals correctly predicted who would be the more active speaker. What’s more, after the session was over and the participants were once again asked who talked more, over half still judged incorrectly. In another study, investigators increased the participants’ motivation to predict correctly by showcasing a myriad of “prizes” — gloves, scarves, lingerie items, belts, and wallets. If, without communication, they could successfully coordinate their choices — that is, choose the same item — they would receive the items as rewards. They all failed. Not one of the twenty-five participating couples succeeded in predicting one another’s choices on as many as five of all twenty items. In still another study, this time involving 116 couples, each partner was asked separately to give the names of persons considered by both partners to be close mutual friends, not including relatives. In an astonishing result, only six couples were in total accord on this task. One couple even failed outright, completely disagreeing on their mutual friends. What this illustrates is that while couples may claim to know each other like the back of their hands, chances are they’re pretty frequently off the mark. That said, and studies aside, it should not be surprising that couples who engage in solid communicative efforts are happier and more sexual than those who make no concerted efforts to understand each other. In fact, a major feature in relationships suffering from a lack of intimacy is not a discernible lack of attraction between the partners but more likely a deficiency in their communication skills. In discordant relationships, there is usually a marked failure of both partners to express and be attuned to each other’s feelings and thoughts. There may be any number of reasons a person might have an inability to “speak up” including coming from an uncommunicative family (which might mean inadequate development of verbal skills), shyness, lack of self-confidence, intimidation, controlled hostility (in which an individual may not communicate in an attempt not to “blow up”), suspicion, self-protection, and so on. Whatever the reason, most often the deterioration of communication occurs gradually and is the result of an interactive process. For example, sometimes a partner will encourage communication and then discourage it by frequent interruptions, in effect, disqualifying the speaker and her message. Or perhaps one partner will ask for more communication only to then feel like the other partner is “nagging,” which consequently leads to harbored resentment. The bottom line is that there is only one route to a truly happy relationship and that is through communication, not ESP. Still, when it comes to sex, most people tend to live by the credo “No news is good news.” In other words, if neither partner says anything, they tend to assume that their partner is okay with what is going on. Unfortunately, that is frequently miles from the truth. Sex is a highly intimate and vulnerable exchange. As a result many people are terrified to speak up about their needs for fear of hurting their partner’s feelings or possibly even worse, turning their partner off. Women tend to have a particularly difficult time asking for what they need in bed because some women still believe they are supposed to focus on their partner’s pleasure rather than their own, and oftentimes their goals during sex are less about climax and more about closeness. So she just hopes and prays that by being sexually conjoined to her partner she will somehow get the intimacy she craves and that he will somehow figure out what would make her feel good without direction. Thing is, the phrase “different strokes for different folks” applies here; no woman or man comes with a road map. So what might have worked with one partner in the past won’t necessarily be pleasurable for a new partner. Unless there is a dialogue about the situation at some point, neither partner will know what is truly working and what is not. Reading physical cues may give some couples information (i.e., if they seem to be sexually turned on then they assume things are good). One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there are a lot of good actors out there as well. People will frequently fake sexual pleasure in order to enhance their partner’s self-esteem or perhaps enjoyment of the experience. But this kind of behavior is usually to the detriment of one partner’s pleasure as well (the “acting” partner). The basic point is, you’re an adult. Adults are responsible for their own needs. Likely, your partner is not going to be able to read your mind, so at some point, you’re going to have to get over it and talk to each other straight up about your sex life. By not doing so, you risk remaining unfulfilled. If you don’t create a road map, you’re likely to get lost.

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Mind reading destroys relationships:

Think of it like this…when you mind read, it is like you are throwing dice to determine what the person you are in relationship with is thinking.  Except…the dice are win/lose dice.  You might be right, you might be wrong. When you are right, it feels great.  When you are wrong, you damage the relationship, whether that is with a partner, parent, child, colleague…

Examples of mind reading in relationship:

“I can tell that you don’t like me”

“You must really think that I am stupid”

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t be late”

“You are just doing that so that you can irritate me”

Can you see how making those assumptions can be damaging to relationships? What happens if you continually are assuming that your partner is thinking negatively about you? They react badly when you assume that they are thinking that way about you.  They reassure you of their love and you don’t listen…because you are playing the mind game.  Or you could be the person who is put in that position of having your every mood interpreted wrongly.  How does that feel?  There comes a point in time when one of you gives up trying because neither of you feels understood.  

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Do this instead of Mind Reading in relationship:

  • Start with removing the belief that you are an excellent mind reader. It is an illusion. You are actually a good guesser and if you are guessing, you will be wrong, sometimes.
  • Catch yourself before you say anything…think twice before you speak, if you are in the habit of using mind reads with your partner.
  • Use questions to clarify how the other person is thinking, such as “How do you feel about that?”  “What, specifically, do you mean?” “How do you know that is true?” etc. 
  • Be sure that when you are using questions, that you do so with an inquiring mind, not a confrontational one.

I am not sure that we can ever eliminate all mind reads.  We will continue to “guess” at what is in the mind of another person, at least occasionally.  When we are in relationship, though, take the time to discover what your partner is thinking. Take the time to bring clarity to your relationship and see how it blossoms from there. When you make that effort, arguments will disappear and there will be more agreement. If you continue to play the mind read game, you are throwing the dice and gambling with your relationship. With more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce in America; that is a chance you should not be willing to take. 

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Warning regarding using body language to read mind:

First, it’s a myth that body language allows you to read a person like a book. This theory, which was an attempt to ‘alphabetize’ non-verbal communication by defining a single gesture as having a single meaning, was originally fashionable in the sixties. If people scratched their nose, that meant they were lying. It didn’t matter whether they were scratching because their nose itched, because they were nervous or because nose-scratching was an important ritual in their sub-culture – they were still seen as lying. Nowadays, we know it’s just not that simple. Body language elements differ in meaning, and can be understood only in the context of a person’s life situation. Second, using body language successfully isn’t about ignoring the words. Even though we humans are evolved from apes – and many of the body talk sequences we use come directly from those developed by apes – we are nevertheless talking species. Therefore, much of the teachings are about using body language along with the words, to emphasize them, to elaborate on them, to control them or even to contradict them. To be a real body language expert, use your non-verbal skills in addition to, not instead of, your verbal ones.

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Mind reading as cognitive distortion:

In cognitive psychology, cognitive distortions are thoughts that are exaggerated and irrational. Some cognitive distortions are also logical fallacies.  Eliminating these “twisted” thought patterns improves mood and mental disorders such as depression and chronic anxiety. The process of learning the habit of refuting these thoughts is called “cognitive restructuring”. We all tend to think in extremes…and when traumatic events happen we think that way even more. There are many cognitive distortions and one of them is ‘Jumping to conclusions’: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. Mind reading could become a type of cognitive distortion wherein you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and you don’t bother to check it out.  

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Autism: a specific mind-blindness: inability to read other’s mind:

Autistic children seem to be largely unaware of other peoples’ mental states – and the task for educators is to develop learning programs better suited to their desperate needs, suggests Simon Baron-Cohen. Autism was the term that Leo Kanner used to describe the 11 children he saw in his clinic in Baltimore in 1943. The term came from the Greek word autos, meaning “self”, and seemed an appropriate description of their behavior. The children appeared cut off from the social world, instead living in their own, private world. The tragic implication was that such children were unable, for whatever reason, to connect with humankind. Children with autism perform worse on tests of ascribing almost the full range of mental states (intentions, knowledge, pretence, deception, imagination, and so on). It is as if they suffer from a specific form of “mind-blindness”. In the mindreading literature, there has been a great deal of research on the mindreading capacities of people with autism (e.g., Baron-Cohen 1995; Frith 1989). On a wide range of mindreading tasks, autistic children tend to perform much worse than their mental aged peers. For instance, most autistic children fail false belief tasks long after their mental age peers can pass such tasks (e.g., Baron-Cohen et al. 1985). In addition to their difficulties with false belief, autistic children fail classic perspective-taking tasks, e.g., determining which gifts would be appropriate for which person (Dawson & Fernald 1987). Further, one of the central characteristics of autism is lack of imaginative activities and spontaneous pretend play (Wing& Gould 1979).

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 Autism, psychopathy and mind reading:

Cambridge psychology professor and leading autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen is best known for studying the theory that a key problem in autistic disorders is “mind-blindness,” difficulty understanding the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others. He’s also known for positing the “extreme male brain” concept of autism, which suggests that exposure to high levels of testosterone in the womb can cause the brain to focus on systematic knowledge and patterns more than on emotions and connection with others. Low empathy is a characteristic of many different conditions or disorders. Often books are written where they either focus on psychopathy or autism but not both. Whilst numerous studies have reported difficulties in cognitive empathy in autism and Asperger syndrome, affective empathy may be intact in people with these diagnoses. That is, individuals with autism have difficulties ascertaining others’ thoughts and feelings, but experience empathy when they are aware of others’ states of mind. Baron-Cohen argued that autistic persons and psychopaths are mirror opposites. Psychopaths show intact cognitive empathy but impaired affective empathy whilst people with autism show impaired cognitive empathy but intact affective empathy. He argues that this is why psychopaths can go on to commit acts of cruelty and why acts of cruelty are uncommon in autism. People with autism struggle to understand other people’s motives, intentions and behavior and tend to avoid relationships, finding them confusing, but rarely hurt others. In contrast, psychopaths tend to manipulate others by using their intact cognitive empathy and often hurt others. Autistic people are not good at the “mind reading” part of empathy, in terms of predicting people’s behavior and feelings, while psychopaths are able to do that but are not able to care. I think the contrast between these two conditions provides some evidence for that dissociation within empathy. People with psychopathy are very good at reading the minds of their victims. That’s probably most clearly seen in deception. You have to be good at mind reading before it would even occur to you to deceive someone. So you can see the cognitive part of empathy as functioning very well, but the fact that they don’t have the appropriate emotional response to someone else’s state of mind, the feeling of wanting to alleviate distress if someone’s in pain, that suggests that the affective part of empathy is not functioning normally. There are interesting and imaginative new approaches to treatment for empathy. Some are medications like oxytocin. Some are psychological treatments like Peter Fonagy’s work on mentalization therapy.

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Mind Reading Emotions Library: CD-ROM & DVD-ROM:

Mind Reading was developed by a team of scientists at Cambridge University led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. They combed the English language and found more than 1000 words that described human emotions. From this large number they eventually settled, after much testing, on 412 “emotion concepts” that they found to be distinct. This project was made possible by funding from The Shirley Foundation. It has taken 18 months to produce. People on the autism spectrum frequently have difficulty “reading” people’s faces and voices. This can make social interaction extremely difficult. Research by Professor Baron-Cohen and others has shown that emotions can be learned by people who have problems in this area. Mind Reading provides opportunities to study emotions through the use of video clips, stories and voices. Quizzes and lessons enable this learning to be tested. Mind Reading is a unique reference work covering the entire spectrum of human emotions. It is available as a DVD-ROM and also as a set of CD-ROMs. Using the software you can explore over 400 emotions, seeing and hearing each one performed by six different people. There are three main sections: Emotions Library, Learning Centre and Games Zone. Mind Reading is for everyone interested in emotions. It has been designed with awareness of the needs of children and adults who may want to improve their ability to recognize emotions in others. It is also an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, those involved in social skills training and people working in the dramatic arts. In Emotions Library, you can study 412 different emotions organized into 24 groups. Six video clips are provided for each emotion showing close-up performances by a wide range of people (old, young, male, female). Six audio clips express the intonation of each emotion. There are definitions and stories for each emotion, a search facility, and a scrapbook where you can create and organize your own collections. In Learning Center, you can improve your emotion recognition skills. It is valuable to a wide set of users of all ages, including people on the autistic spectrum. A variety of lessons and quizzes are provided to present emotions in a systematic way and then to test recognition. The difficulty of some lessons can be adjusted to suit a wide range of ability levels. A rich set of collectible rewards is provided to help motivate users. In Games Zone, you can have fun with emotions by playing one of the games in this section. See how world famous actor Daniel Radcliffe reacts to being offered some raw squid! Visit a school, an office or a market to play with emotions in the real world. Play a fast moving card game where you have to match the faces to win or guess the emotion in the hidden face. The Games Zone encourages informal learning about emotions in a less structured setting. Although Mind Reading was developed with the needs of those on the autism spectrum in mind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to improve their recognition and understanding of emotions. Actors, illustrators, advertisers and communications experts – in fact anyone whose business involves understanding how people feel – will all find Mind Reading a unique and useful resource.

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Oxytocin improves “mind-reading” in humans:

The ability to “read the mind” of other individuals, that is, to infer their mental state by interpreting subtle social cues, is indispensable in human social interaction. The neuropeptide oxytocin plays a central role in social approach behavior in nonhuman mammal. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject design, 30 healthy male volunteers were tested for their ability to infer the affective mental state of others using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) after intranasal administration of 24 IU oxytocin. Oxytocin improved performance on the RMET compared with placebo. This effect was pronounced for difficult compared with easy items. The data suggest that oxytocin improves the ability to infer the mental state of others from social cues of the eye region. Oxytocin might play a role in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder, which is characterized by severe social impairment. This study in the journal Biological Psychiatry shows that mind-reading can be improved with a dose of oxytocin—a brain chemical often called the ‘love hormone’ because of its role in trust, friendship and bonding. Your ability to read emotional cues in someone’s eyes boosts along with your oxytocin levels. This may offer insight into Autism Spectrum Disorders, characterized by both deficits in empathy and lower levels of oxytocin.  

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Let me state now that mind reading in itself is not a problem. It is actually a higher order ability limited to humans and helps us develop empathy for others. The problem is that we are not always accurate.

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Is it healthy to consider that we can read others’ thoughts, emotions, intentions, and can we anticipate and predict their behavior with great precision? A study:

People are capable of meta-perception but studies show that self-report measures of mind reading skills are poor predictors of actual mind reading accuracy. The results showed that

(1) Men have the tendency of overestimating their abilities to mind read compared to women;

(2) The evaluation of mind reading abilities as being high can function as positive illusions;

(3) These beliefs are common among subjects with a high level of irrationality

(4) Positively biased opinions regarding our own abilities to read the others’ mind and predict their outcomes, contribute significantly to the prediction of mental health.

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Accuracy of mind reading:

It’s astonishing that we can peer into each other’s minds at all—but in truth we generally don’t do it all that well. Strangers (who are videotaped and later report their second-by-second thoughts and feelings, as well as their assessments of their counterpart’s thoughts and feelings) read each other with an average accuracy rate of 20 percent. Close friends and married couples nudge that up to 35 percent. And “almost no one ever scores higher than 60 percent,” reports psychologist William Ickes, the father of empathic accuracy, who is based at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Why poor accuracy of mind reading?

There is ample empirical evidence showing that most people’s accuracy at mind reading is barely above the level of chance. One of the reasons for our poor performance at mind reading is that we confuse private knowledge with what’s available to other people when they assess and judge us. This means that we somehow ignore that other people simply do not possess as much information about us as we do ourselves. Ignoring this, we suddenly assume that this information will enter how other people rate us. Another and more important reason is difference in construal level as discussed below.

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Difference in Construal level and accuracy of mind reading:

Another reason for performing poorly on mindreading tasks is that we tend to view ourselves at a lower construal level than we view others (and others view us). This means that we focus on a lot of details when thinking about ourselves, but focus on the general picture when thinking about others. By extension, when we think about what others think of us we put too much emphasis on tiny details (which others will likely ignore), and when trying to figure out what others think of themselves, we place too little emphasis on details. We spend a lot of time wondering about what other people think of us. Do they find us attractive, intelligent, capable or trustworthy? Considering how often we mull over such questions and how confidently we arrive at conclusions, we are remarkably bad at answering them. We have a nasty tendency to use our own minds as a starting point when reasoning about other people’s mind and we rely too heavily on stereotypes and other expectations. In short, we are rubbish telepaths. It’s all about detail, or lack of it. We see ourselves in lots of detail, focusing on every single quality or imperfection. Others view us through a much broader and abstract lens. When it comes to ourselves, we’re experts, privy to a wealth of knowledge that others don’t have. We’re also psychologically close, always aware of our state in the here and now. In practice, when thinking about our attractiveness, we tend to focus on how our hair sits, the small wrinkles on our faces or the specific hue of our clothes, while others tend to notice higher-level features like ethnicity, height or overall presentation. It’s this disparity between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us that makes us bad telepaths. The trick to more accurately working out how others see us is to view ourselves through a wide-angle lens rather than a microscope.

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Focusing on this important reason for lackluster mind-reading, researchers Tal Eyal and Nicholas Epley published a study in the journal Psychological Science which investigates whether mind-reading accuracy can be improved by correspondingly adjusting people’s construal levels. The more common problem in our lack of mind-reading accuracy – as pointed out- is our tendency to view ourselves in too high a resolution (low level of construal) when trying to figure out what others are thinking about us. In the other direction, we tend to view other people in too low a resolution when trying to figure out what they might be thinking about themselves. Encouraging ourselves to adjust the level of resolution might significantly improve our mind reading capacity in these cases. The study found that participants accurately intuited how they were evaluated by others when they took a big-picture look at themselves, considering more general features that match an observer’s level of construal. Participants accurately intuited how others evaluated themselves, however, when they used a more microscopic lens and considered the low-level and contextual details that people consider when evaluating themselves. If you want to understand how others see you, put away the fine-grained details and take a “big picture” look at yourself. If you’re worried that other people will judge you too harshly for a mistake, try to zoom away from the details of the blunder and look at the various bits of info that people take into account when thinking about you. Likewise, if you want to understand how others see themselves, shelve the generalities that you would use and start focusing in on the minutiae that they pay attention to. This strategy will not turn other minds into an open book, but it should, under the right circumstances, make other minds somewhat easier to read. Putting their research into perspective, the authors conclude that “Identifying a barrier to accuracy not only identifies strategies for improvement, but also identifies when particular strategies are likely to be helpful and when they are not. A difference in construal level between oneself and another person arises when the self or the other person is the target of judgment, and this difference is likely to be especially large when the difference between the self and the other is also especially large (e.g., in the case of two strangers)”.

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Now I will discuss the third method of mind reading namely, scientific method, using neuroscience research with the help of brain scans & brain waves that are linked to the thought process.

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Three motives drive neuroscience research: the clinician’s urge to heal, the analyst’s urge to understand, and the engineer’s urge to improve. Understanding and repairing the brain have always gone along with wanting to improve it, and proponents of human enhancement have eagerly anticipated the brain supremacy. Could brain techniques like neuroimaging be used to extend or transcend natural human capacities, for instance by allowing us more direct access to other minds?  Please continue reading….. 

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Neuroscience and mind reading:

First, it should be noted that almost any application of brain imaging in cognitive neuroscience can be thought of as a form of mind reading. Standard analytic approaches test whether we can predict brain activity from the changes in cognitive state (e.g., in statistical parametric mapping). It is straightforward to turn this equation round to predict mental state from brain activity. With this simple transformation, the huge majority of brains imaging studies are doing mind reading. Moreover, a class of analytic methods known as multivariate (or multivoxel) pattern analysis (or classification) has come even closer to mind reading for research purposes. Essentially, these methods rely on a two-stage procedure. The first step is to learn which patterns of brain activity correspond to which cognitive states. Next, these learned relationships are used to predict the cognitive state associated with brain activity. This train/test procedure is strictly “mind reading”, but essentially as a by-product. In fact, the main advantage of this form of mind reading in research neuroscience is that it provides a powerful method for exploring how complex patterns in brain data vary with the experimental condition. Multivariate analysis can also be performed the other way around (by predicting brain activity from behavior), and similarly, there is no reason why train-test procedures can’t be used for univariate analyses. In this type of research, the purpose is not actually to read the mind of cash-poor undergraduates who tend to volunteer for these experiments, but rather to understand the relationship between mind and brain. Statistical methods for prediction provide a formal framework for this endeavor, and although they are a form of mind reading, it is unlikely to capture the popular imagination once the finer details are explained. Experiments may sometimes get dressed up like a mentalist’s parlor trick (e.g., “using fMRI, scientists could read the contents of consciousness”), but such hype invariably leaves those who actually read the scientific paper a bit disappointed by the more banal reality (e.g., “statistical analysis could predict significantly above chance whether participants were seeing a left or right tilted grating”), or contribute to paranoid conspiracy theories in those who didn’t read the paper, but have an active imagination. 

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Thought identification:

Thought identification refers to the empirically verified use of technology to, in some sense, read people’s minds. Recent research using neuroimaging has provided some early demonstrations of the technology’s potential to recognize high-order patterns in the brain. In some cases, this provides meaningful (and controversial) information to investigators. Professor of neuropsychology, Barbara Sahakian, qualifies “A lot of neuroscientists in the field are very cautious and say we can’t talk about reading individuals’ minds, and right now that is very true, but we’re moving ahead so rapidly, it’s not going to be that long before we will be able to tell whether someone’s making up a story, or whether someone intended to do a crime with a certain degree of certainty.”

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Neural oscillations and EEG:

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The figure above shows simulation of neural oscillations at 10 Hz. Upper panel shows spiking of individual neurons (with each dot representing an individual action potential within the population of neurons), and the lower panel the local field potential reflecting their summed activity. Figure illustrates how synchronized patterns of action potentials may result in macroscopic oscillations that can be measured outside the scalp.

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Neural oscillation is rhythmic or repetitive neural activity in the central nervous system. Neural tissue can generate oscillatory activity in many ways, driven either by mechanisms localized within individual neurons or by interactions between neurons. In individual neurons, oscillations can appear either as oscillations in membrane potential or as rhythmic patterns of action potentials, which then produce oscillatory activation of post-synaptic neurons. At the level of neural ensembles, synchronized activity of large numbers of neurons can give rise to macroscopic oscillations, which can be observed in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Oscillatory activity in groups of neurons generally arises from feedback connections between the neurons that result in the synchronization of their firing patterns. The interaction between neurons can give rise to oscillations at a different frequency than the firing frequency of individual neurons. Neural oscillations have been most widely studied in neural activity generated by large groups of neurons. Large-scale activity can be measured by techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG). In general, EEG signals have a broad spectral content similar to pink noise, but also reveal oscillatory activity in specific frequency bands. The first discovered and best-known frequency band is alpha activity (8–12 Hz) that can be detected from the occipital lobe during relaxed wakefulness and increases when the eyes are closed. Other frequency bands are: delta (1–4 Hz), theta (4–8 Hz), beta (13–30 Hz) and gamma (30–70 Hz) frequency band, where faster rhythms such as gamma activity have been linked to cognitive processing. Indeed, EEG signals change dramatically during sleep and show a transition from faster frequencies to increasingly slower frequencies such as alpha waves. In fact, different sleep stages are commonly characterized by their spectral content. Consequently, neural oscillations have been linked to cognitive states, such as awareness and consciousness. Neural oscillations have been considered for use as a control signal for various brain-computer interfaces [BCI]. A non-invasive BCI interface is created by placing electrodes on the scalp and then measuring the weak electric signals. Non-invasive BCI produces poor signal resolution because the skull dampens and blurs the electromagnetic signals. As a result, the activity of individual neurons cannot be recovered, but oscillatory activity can still be reliably detected. In particular, some forms of BCI allow users to control a device by measuring the amplitude of oscillatory activity in specific frequency bands, including mu and beta rhythms.

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MEG (magnetoencephalography) vs. EEG (electroencephalography):

Although EEG and MEG signals originate from the same neurophysiological processes, there are important differences. Magnetic fields are less distorted than electric fields by the skull and scalp, which results in a better spatial resolution of the MEG. Whereas scalp EEG is sensitive to both tangential and radial components of a current source in a spherical volume conductor, MEG detects only its tangential components. Scalp EEG can therefore detect activity both in the sulci and at the top of the cortical gyri, whereas MEG is most sensitive to activity originating in sulci. EEG is therefore sensitive to activity in more brain areas, but activity that is visible in MEG can also be localized with more accuracy. Scalp EEG is sensitive to extracellular volume currents produced by postsynaptic potentials. MEG primarily detects intracellular currents associated with these synaptic potentials because the field components generated by volume currents tend to cancel out in a spherical volume conductor. The decay of magnetic fields as a function of distance is more pronounced than for electric fields. MEG is therefore more sensitive to superficial cortical activity, which makes it useful for the study of neocortical epilepsy. Finally, MEG is reference-free, while scalp EEG relies on a reference that, when active, makes interpretation of the data difficult.  

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Brain-computer interface (BCI):

A brain–computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. BCIs are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. Neuroprosthetics is an area of neuroscience concerned with neural prostheses. That is, using artificial devices to replace the function of impaired nervous systems and brain related problems, or of sensory organs. The difference between BCIs and neuroprosthetics is mostly in how the terms are used: neuroprosthetics typically connect the nervous system to a device, whereas BCIs usually connect the brain (or nervous system) with a computer system. The most widely used neuroprosthetic device is the cochlear implant which, as of December 2010, had been implanted in approximately 220,000 people worldwide. There are also several other neuroprosthetic devices that aim to restore vision, including retinal implants. The terms are sometimes, however, used interchangeably. Neuroprosthetics and BCIs seek to achieve the same aims, such as restoring sight, hearing, movement, ability to communicate, and even cognitive function. Both use similar experimental methods and surgical techniques.  

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The reason a BCI works at all is because of the way our brains function. Our brains are filled with neurons, individual nerve cells connected to one another by dendrites and axons. Every time we think, move, feel or remember something, our neurons are at work. That work is carried out by small electric signals that zip from neuron to neuron as fast as 250 mph. The signals are generated by differences in electric potential carried by ions on the membrane of each neuron. Although the paths the signals take are insulated by something called myelin, some of the electric signal escapes. Scientists can detect those signals, interpret what they mean and use them to direct a device of some kind. It can also work the other way around. For example, researchers could figure out what signals are sent to the brain by the optic nerve when someone sees the color red. They could rig a camera that would send those exact signals into someone’s brain whenever the camera saw red, allowing a blind person to “see” without eyes.

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One of the biggest challenges facing brain-computer interface researchers today is the basic mechanics of the interface itself. The easiest and least invasive method is a set of electrodes — a device known as an electroencephalograph (EEG) — attached to the scalp. The electrodes can read brain signals. However, the skull blocks a lot of the electrical signal, and it distorts what does get through. To get a higher-resolution signal, scientists can implant electrodes directly into the gray matter of the brain itself, or on the surface of the brain, beneath the skull. This allows for much more direct reception of electric signals and allows electrode placement in the specific area of the brain where the appropriate signals are generated. This approach has many problems, however. It requires invasive surgery to implant the electrodes, and devices left in the brain long-term tend to cause the formation of scar tissue in the gray matter. This scar tissue ultimately blocks signals. Regardless of the location of the electrodes, the basic mechanism is the same: The electrodes measure minute differences in the voltage between neurons. The signal is then amplified and filtered. In current BCI systems, it is then interpreted by a computer program, although you might be familiar with older analogue encephalographs, which displayed the signals via pens that automatically wrote out the patterns on a continuous sheet of paper. In the case of a sensory input BCI, the function happens in reverse. A computer converts a signal, such as one from a video camera, into the voltages necessary to trigger neurons. The signals are sent to an implant in the proper area of the brain, and if everything works correctly, the neurons fire and the subject receive a visual image corresponding to what the camera sees. Another method to have BCI is a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) interacting with a computer [vide infra].

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Mind reading computer using EEG:

A computer can, in a very real sense, read human minds. Although the dots gyrations are directed by a computer, the machine was only carrying out the orders of the test subject. The computer mind-reading technique is far more than a laboratory stunt. Though computer scan solve extraordinarily complex problems with incredible speed, the information they digest is fed to them by such slow, cumbersome tools as typewriter keyboards or punched tapes. The key to this scheme: the electroencephalograph, a device used by medical researchers to pick up electrical currents from various parts of the brain. If we could learn to identify brain waves generated by specific thoughts or commands, we might be able to teach the same skill to a computer. The machine might even be able to react to those commands by, say, moving a dot across a TV screen. So far the S.R.I, computer has been taught to recognize seven different commands—up, down, left, right, slow, fast and stop. In another study, scientists showed that the type of brainwave varies greatly according to which part of the face was being looked at. The brain produces different brainwaves patterns to encode different visual features. Information is encoded by the frequency and timing of brainwaves. It’s a bit like unlocking a scrambled television channel. Before, we could detect the signal, but couldn’t watch the content; now we can.

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Thinking words produced the same electrical signals in the brain as saying them:

A computer that can read human minds has been unveiled by scientists. It translates thought signals into speech through sensors placed on the brain. Researchers say that in more than eight out of ten cases they were able to work out which word was being thought of without the subject saying it out loud. They believe the breakthrough could give a voice to paralyzed patients who have lost the power of speech. The breakthrough was made when Professor Greger’s team discovered that thinking words produced the same signals in the brain as saying them. They attached two small grids of 16 electrodes to the speech centers of the brain of an epileptic patient, who had had part of his skull removed for another operation to treat the illness. A computer then recorded the signals in the patient’s brain as he repeatedly read each of ten words that might be useful to a paralyzed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less. The patient was then asked to say the words out loud and the computer matched the brain signals for each word with a success rate of between 76 per cent and 90 per cent. Currently those with ‘locked-in’ syndrome – following a stroke, disease or injury – communicate by blinking an eye or twitching a finger to choose letters or words from a list. Scientist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from motor neuron disease, had used this method to write books and ‘talk’. Now, the computer could give a voice to paralyzed people like Stephen Hawking.

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Decoding brain activity to reconstruct words: Words from brain waves may let scientists read your mind:

Scientists have found a way to decipher actual words from a person’s brain waves, a feat that sounds very much like mind-reading, a new study shows. In the study, scientists worked with a group of epilepsy patients who were undergoing treatment for intractable seizures. Sensors were implanted deep in their brains in an effort to locate the source of seizures, so doctors could remove the malfunctioning tissue, according to the new report published in PLoS Biology. Normally that process takes about a week, says the study’s lead author, Brian Pasley, a neuroscientist at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. “During that time the patients are just sitting around in their hospital rooms,” Pasley explains. “And some of them were generous enough to participate in our experiment.” While the patients’ brain waves were being recorded, Pasley and his colleagues read words to them. Later, the researchers ran those brain waves through a program they hoped would translate the brain’s electronic signals into actual sounds. It worked. Based only on the recordings, the computer was able to pluck out the words spoken to the patients. Previous research has been able to reconstruct what a person is looking at from brain scans. Researchers are still a long way from actually reading people’s minds, but it may be possible one day, says Pasley, who acknowledges the technology’s potential to unlock communication for people who can’t speak — as well as invade our most private thoughts.

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‘Neural Fingerprints’ of Memory Associations Decoded:

The study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience. The brain recordings necessary for the study were made possible by the fact that the participants were epilepsy patients who volunteered for the study while awaiting brain surgery. These participants had tiny electrodes implanted in their brains, which allowed researchers to precisely observe electrical signals that would not have been possible to measure outside the skull. While recording these electrical signals, the researchers asked the participants to study lists of 15 randomly chosen words and, a minute later, to repeat the words back in which-ever order they came to mind. The researchers examined the brain recordings as the participants studied each word to home in on signals in the participant’ brains that reflected the meanings of the words. About a second before the participants recalled each word, these same “meaning signals” that were identified during the study phase were spontaneously reactivated in the participants’ brains. Because the participants were not seeing, hearing or speaking any words at the times these patterns were reactivated, the researchers could be sure they were observing the neural signatures of the participants’ self-generated, internal thoughts. Critically, differences across participants in the way these meaning signals were reactivated predicted the order in which the participants would recall the words. In particular, the degree to which the meaning signals were reactivated before recalling each word reflected each participant’s tendency to group similar words (like “duck” and “goose”) together in their recall sequence. Since the participants were instructed to say the words in the order they came to mind, the specific sequence of recalls a participant makes provides insights into how the words were organized in that participant’s memory. Each person’s brain patterns form a sort of ‘neural fingerprint’ that can be used to read out the ways they organize their memories through associations between words. The techniques the researchers developed in this study could also be adapted to analyze many different ways of mentally organizing studied information. In addition to looking at memories organized by time or by meaning, one could use this technique to identify neural signatures of how individuals organize learned information according to appearance, size, texture, sound, taste, location or any other measurable property. Such studies would paint a more complete picture of a fundamental aspect of human behavior. Spontaneous verbal recall is a form of memory that is both pervasive in our lives and unique to the human species. Yet, this aspect of human memory is the least well understood in terms of brain mechanisms. The data show a direct correspondence between patterns of brain activity and the meanings of individual words and show how this neural representation of meaning predicts the way in which one item cues another during spontaneous recall. Given the critical role of language in human thought and communication, identifying a neural representation that reflects the meanings of words as they are spontaneously recalled brings us one step closer to the elusive goal of mapping thoughts in the human brain.  

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ECoG Technology turns Thought into Action:

The technology is called electrocorticography, or ECoG, and it uses electrodes placed on the surface of the brain to detect electrical signals coming from the brain itself. Doctors have been using ECoG since the 1950s to figure out which area of the brain is causing seizures in people with severe epilepsy. But in the past decade, scientists have shown that when connected to a computer running special software, ECoG also can be used to control robotic arms, study how the brain produces speech and even decode thoughts. This is both very exciting and somewhat frightening at the same time. It really goes pretty close to what people used to call mind reading. In one recent experiment, researchers were able to use ECoG to determine the word a person was imagining. The key to all of the new uses for ECoG is software, designed in part by Schalk, that helps scientists decode the electrical signals coming from the brain. The brain uses those signals every time we wiggle a toe or form a thought. But the signals also provide a real-time broadcast of precisely what the brain is doing, and Schalk’s software allows scientists to eavesdrop on this broadcast. ECoG has proven to be ideal for simultaneously detecting the signals from a large number of brain areas. Bionic arms are just one potential use for ECoG. Researchers say the technology has proved far more powerful and versatile than anyone expected. ECoG does require surgery, but not on the brain itself. Surgeons make an incision in the scalp and remove a portion of the skull. Then they place a grid of electrodes on the surface of the brain and “close everything back up.” Wires from the electrodes exit through the scalp and are connected directly to a computer, creating what’s known as a brain-computer interface.

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Bioinformatics headset:

Scientists in the field of bioinformatics have designed headsets with advanced sensors to read electrical brain activity that can recognize facial expressions, excitement and concentration levels, and thoughts of a person without them physically taking any actions. The headset which is available from EmotivLifeSciences, looks like a tentacle wielding octopus sitting on your head, but it can actually read brain impulses. So for example, if you see a square on your computer screen and you think about moving it to the left, it will. Moving computer objects on a screen is even possible today and consumers can purchase the headset for only $299.00. Scientists believe that within 5 years we will begin to see early applications of the technology in the gaming, entertainment industry and healthcare. PC games are an obvious choice, but doctors could also use the technology to test brain patterns, possibly even assist in rehabilitation and to help in understanding brain disorders, such as autism. Working with its partner, EmotivLifeSciences, IBM scientists are developing software to link these headsets to devices, such as computers and smartphones, so you just need to think about emailing or calling a colleague and it happens. Or you can control the cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about where you want to move it.

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An EEG headset:


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IBM’s vision is this: a person wears a headset (as shown above) that can detect general electrical signals from the brain, and sends them to a computer. Sophisticated software interprets those signals and, in turn, tells a machine what to do. One of the common misconceptions is that this headset is reading your thoughts. It’s not. It’s just reading a level of excitement. It’s not understanding. The technology behind the idea has existed for a while. The headset is able to detect electrical signals in the brain (via electroencephalography, or EEG) as well as muscular movements (electromyography, or EMG), both well known in the medical community. Once you have those signals, the real magic begins, which is the ability to map signals to different actions. By doing so, the user is effectively teaching the machine how to read a specific mind. In much the same way speech-recognition software gets tailored to an individual’s accent, inflections, and pronunciation, the mind-reading software can adapt to a person’s unique “thoughts.” The next step is mapping specific thoughts to specific actions, analogous to programming a universal remote control. The key here is that the thought and action don’t necessarily have to be the same. For example, if you want to use the headset to, say, turn on a TV; you might program the headset to perform that action when you think about kittens. Any device can take that [headset] data and do something with it, so you might have a fan put on or you might have a room light change color based on certain excitement level.

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Linking a wireless EEG headset to a Smartphone:
New opportunities to capture brain imaging data reflecting our everyday social behavior in a mobile context. However processing the data on a portable device will require novel approaches to analyze and interpret significant patterns in order to make them available for runtime inter-action. Applying a Bayesian approach to reconstruct the neural sources researchers demonstrate the ability to distinguish among emotional responses reflected in different scalp potentials when viewing pleasant and unpleasant pictures compared to neutral content. Rendering the activations in a 3D brain model on a Smartphone may not only facilitate differentiation of emotional responses but also provide an intuitive interface for touch based interaction, allowing for both modeling the mental state of users as well as providing a basis for novel bio-feedback applications.

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Interaxon’s Mindreading Muse:

Interaxon, an Ontario-based startup specializing in thought-controlled computing, has plans to release a brainwave-reading headband, Muse, that will let users track and train their minds. Described by Interaxon as a “heart monitor for your brain,” the Muse headband syncs with apps on tablets and cell phones to record a user’s emotions, mood, level of concentration and memory in response to various tasks, as well as provide training exercises designed to improve mental acuity. Sensors touching the wearer’s forehead and ears monitor brain activity. But that’s only the first step. The creators of the slim, fashion-forward device hope that eventually developers will create apps that use Muse so you can control the app with your thoughts. This would include everything from playing games to adjusting electronics in the living room (Interaxon has already built a chair that you can levitate with your mind, as well as a brainwave-controlled toaster). The company will allow developers to access Muse’s “raw brainwave data” to create their own applications that sync with the headband. Interaxon also envisions using Muse as a matchmaking service — singles could be paired based on their “emotional reactions to songs or movies,” — or to create the ultimate virtual personal assistant. Like a human assistant, Muse-enabled gadgets would know when we’re stressed and shouldn’t be bothered with a slew of emails or status updates, or what we need to help us focus on the task at hand. These mind-reading devices would also know which emotions are triggered by which songs, and could create personalized playlists that will make us feel energized, relaxed or focused. Computers could definitely understand your emotions and respond to them in a way that makes your life better. The same way a coach both pushes you to your limits and helps you be your best, a computer could respond to you moment to moment and not just be a piece of technology you have to move your life around for. Whatever Muse’s application, Interaxon predicts brainwave-sensing devices will soon be as ubiquitous as their touch and voice-controlled counterparts are today. With that pervasive, mind-reading technology will come a “sixth sense” offering a more complete understanding of who we are and what makes us tick. Our brain taps in to five senses — we hear, smell, taste, touch and see — and what you are doing [with Muse] is giving you a new sense. You can detect, understand and see things you couldn’t previously detect. When you start to have millions or billions of people wearing sensors, the amount of data generated and the insights we get from that is when this becomes really transformative.

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The Brain-Wave-Reading Helmet:

A new helmet can monitor pilots’ brain waves to see if they are paying attention to flying — or if they’re daydreaming instead. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego put compact EEG brain scanning technology into a regular pilot’s helmet. It’s not a mind-reading device, but researchers can get a peek into brain activity.  Once the brain waves are read, the stats are sent to a tablet using Bluetooth technology. The brain wave feedback is processed and analyzed to figure out which parts of the brain are being engaged —- and if a pilot is distracted or tired. The head gear could be used to do much more than monitor pilots. These brain-wave-reading helmets could give researchers insight into autism, epilepsy, paralysis and fatigue.

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Veritas Scientific is developing EEG helmet for P300 recognition: the brain-spying, truth-telling technology:

It’s a futuristic motorcycle-type helmet containing metal brush sensors that will read brain activity as images of, say, bomb specs or Osama bin Laden’s face flash quickly across the inside of the visor. Scientists have shown that familiar images prompt spikes of electrical brain activity that indicate recognition. Recognition indicates memory, and memory implies knowledge. Veritas’s goal is to create an electroencephalogram (EEG) helmet with a slideshow of images that could reliably help to identify an enemy. But whose enemy? Veritas would provide the U.S. military with the device first, as a way to help them pick friend from foe among captured people. But that the brain-spying, truth-telling technology will also be useful for law enforcement, criminal trials, and corporate takeovers. Eventually, it will even make its way into cell phone apps for civilians. Veritas draws heavily on the work of J. Peter Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. Rosenfeld develops EEG tests that ferret out lies; the U.S. military sponsors some of his research. Rosenfeld’s tests—and Veritas’s work—are based on certain types of brain activity known as event related potentials (ERPs). When the brain recognizes someone, there is a specific, well-documented response called P300. A person sees a face and then identifies it as John, Mary, or Mom. As the person’s brain puts a name to the face, a sharp dip in the EEG appears between 200 and 500 milliseconds after first seeing the face. That dip reveals that the subject recognizes that person. The same reaction occurs with a photo of an object, a place, or even a name. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. For each test, there is a probe image—the one the subject may recognize. It has to be a surprise, so it is mixed into a series of dummy images, some related to the probe, some not. Sometimes there’s an image that prompts a physical response, such as pressing a button, to show the subject is paying attention.  P300s are tricky signals, says Paul Sajda, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University. Sajda conducts research on the P300 response, but to a very different end: to aid in image recognition. Sajda has also offered his work to intelligence agencies, but as a way for image analysts to spot more of whatever they’re looking for, not as interrogation technology. This is a situation where a false positive won’t hurt anyone, and there are false positives with ERPs, he says. The trouble with the P300 response is that it’s related to more than recognition. Loud noises, arousal, surprises, and suddenly focused attention can all cause P300s. Stress and depression can alter the intensity or timing as well. It’s an interesting signal, but it’s also complicated. What’s worse, EEG readings are noisy & messy and must be interpreted carefully using computer algorithms.

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iBrain: Most Advanced Mind Reader enable to read thoughts :

Scientist  are in process of testing a most advanced mind reader “iBrain” headband that is quite able to read thoughts direct from the users mind. Basically, iBrain headband has been designed for monitoring dreams during sleep time, but the scientists are well confident that they can use this latest headband for reading thoughts…..making it enable to convey the messages to loudspeaker just by thinking…strikingly amazing but highly useful and creative. The iBrain is capable of monitoring brain waves and could one day translate those waves into through and successfully read minds. This new mind reader is being tested on world’s renowned Professor Stephen Hawking that is a cute small sized device having ability to allow him to ‘Speak Again’ …just by reading his thoughts directly from his brain….iBrain will convey the message the professor would think to a loud speaker. The iBrain can collect data in real time in a person’s own bed, or when they’re watching TV, or doing just about anything. The idea is to see if Stephen can use his mind to create a consistent and repeatable pattern that a computer can translate into, say, a word or letter or a command for a computer. 

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Mind reading computer using fNRIS:

This mind reading technology actually involves measuring the volume and oxygen level of the blood around the subjects brain, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).The user wears a sort of futuristic headband that sends light in that spectrum into the tissues of the head where it is absorbed by active, blood-filled tissues. The headband then measures how much light was not absorbed, letting the computer gauge the metabolic demands that the brain is making. The results are often compared to an MRI, but can be gathered with light weight, non-invasive equipment. Wearing the fNIRS sensor, experimental subjects were asked to count the number of squares on a rotating onscreen cube and to perform other tasks. The subjects were then asked to rate the difficulty of the tasks, and their ratings agreed with the work intensity detected by the fNIRS system up to 83 percent of the time. We don’t know how specific we can be about identifying user’s different emotional states. However, the particular area of the brain where the blood-flow change occurs should provide indications of the brains metabolic changes and by extension workload, which could be a proxy for emotions like frustration. Measuring mental workload, frustration and distraction is typically limited to qualitatively observing computer users or to administering surveys after completion of a task, potentially missing valuable insight into the user’s changing experiences.

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Mind reading computer by analyzing nerve signals:

 A computer program which can read silently spoken words by analyzing nerve signals in our mouths and throats has been developed by NASA. Preliminary results show that using button-sized sensors, which attach under the chin and on the side of the Adams apple, it is possible to pick up and recognize nerve signals and patterns from the tongue and vocal cords that correspond to specific words. Biological signals arise when reading or speaking to oneself with or without actual lip or facial movement. Just the slightest movement in the voice box and tongue is all it needs to work.

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Computer reads mental states using facial signals:

People express their mental states, including emotions, thoughts, and desires, all the time through facial expressions, vocal nuances and gestures. This is true even when they are interacting with machines. Our mental states shape the decisions that we make, govern how we communicate with others, and affect our performance. The ability to attribute mental states to others from their behavior and to use that knowledge to guide our own actions and predict those of others is known as mind-reading. Existing human-computer interfaces are mind-blind — oblivious to the user’s mental states and intentions. A computer may wait indefinitely for input from a user who is no longer there, or decide to do irrelevant tasks while a user is frantically working towards an imminent deadline. As a result, existing computer technologies often frustrate the user, have little persuasive power and cannot initiate interactions with the user. Even if they do take the initiative, like the now retired Microsoft Paperclip, they are often misguided and irrelevant, and simply frustrate the user. With the increasing complexity of computer technologies and the ubiquity of mobile and wearable devices, there is a need for machines that are aware of the user’s mental state and that adaptively respond to these mental states. A computational model of mind-reading draws inspiration from psychology, computer vision and machine learning.  The team in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge has developed mind-reading machines — computers that implement a computational model of mind-reading to infer mental states of people from their facial signals. The goal is to enhance human-computer interaction through empathic responses, to improve the productivity of the user and to enable applications to initiate interactions with and on behalf of the user, without waiting for explicit input from that user. Processing stages in the mind-reading system using a digital video camera, the mind-reading computer system analyzes a person’s facial expressions in real time and infers that person’s underlying mental state, such as whether he or she is agreeing or disagreeing, interested or bored, thinking or confused. Prior knowledge of how particular mental states are expressed in the face is combined with analysis of facial expressions and head gestures occurring in real time. Mind Reading computer represents these at different granularities, starting with face and head movements and building those in time and in space to form a clearer model of what mental state is being represented. Software from Neven vision identifies 24 feature points on the face and tracks them in real time. Movement, shape and color are then analyzed to identify gestures like a smile or eyebrows being raised. Combinations of these occurring over time indicate mental states. For example, a combination of a head nod, with a smile and eyebrows raised might mean interest. The relationship between observable head and facial displays and the corresponding hidden mental states over time is modeled using Dynamic Bayesian Networks.

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What is fMRI and how it works in mind reading:

Neuroscientists are already able to read some basic thoughts, like whether an individual test subject is looking at a picture of a cat or an image with a specific left or right orientation. They can even read pictures that you’re simply imagining in your mind’s eye. Even leaders in the field are shocked by how far we’ve come in our ability to peer into people’s minds. Will brain scans of the future be able to tell if a person is lying or telling the truth? Suggest whether a consumer wants to buy a car? Reveal our secret likes and dislikes, or our hidden prejudices? While we aren’t there yet, these possibilities have dramatic social, legal and ethical implications. At the World Science Festival in New York, leading neuroscientists took the stage to discuss current research into functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), a type of scan that indirectly measures neural activity by measuring the change in the blood oxygen level in the brain. Neurons require oxygen in order to fire, so if a person is thinking about or looking at a specific image, by looking at the oxygen levels the scientists can see the patterns that “light up” in the brain, and link them to a specific word or image. Study results in this field are astonishing. Work out of Frank Tong’s lab at Vanderbilt University, one of the event’s panelists, shows that the researchers can read the orientation of an object that a person is looking out — say a striped pattern that goes off to the left or the right — 95 percent of the time. His group also, with 83 percent accuracy, can predict which of two patterns an individual is holding in their memory. Deciphering the patterns that result from one word or image is fairly simple but unraveling the entirety of our thoughts is not. John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin and another panelist, says that the researchers are not truly reading minds: “We don’t understand the language of the brain, the syntax and the semantics of neural language.” At this point, he says, they are just using statistical analysis to analyze brain patterns during very specific object-oriented tasks.

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When humans think of an object, like a screwdriver, many different areas of the brain activate. This is because what we call Memory is actually distributed associations throughout the brain – using the screwdriver, seeing the screw driver, etc. Psychologist Marcel Just and his colleague, Tom Mitchell, have used FMRI brain scans to teach a computer to identify the various parts of the brain associated with specific thoughts. This breakthrough technology also yielded a discovery: similar thoughts in different human brains are surprisingly similar neurologically. To illustrate this, Just and Mitchell used their computer to predict, based on nothing but FMRI data, which of several images a volunteer was thinking about. The computer was 100% accurate, but so far the machine is only distinguishing between 10 images. Psychologist John Dylan-Haynes explains that fMRI can also be used to identify recognition in the brain. He provides the example of a criminal being interrogated about whether he recognizes the scene of the crime or murder weapons. Just and Mitchell also claim they are beginning to be able to identify kindness, hypocrisy, and love in the brain. In 2010 IBM applied for a patent on how to extract mental images of human faces from the human brain. It uses a feedback loop based on brain measurements of the fusiform gyrus area in the brain which activates proportionate with degree of facial recognition. In 2011, a team led by Shinji Nishimoto used only brain recordings to partially reconstruct what volunteers were seeing. The researchers applied a new model, about how moving object information is processed in human brains, while volunteers watched clips from several videos. An algorithm searched through thousands of hours of external YouTube video footage (none of the videos were the same as the ones the volunteers watched) to select the clips that were most similar. The authors have uploaded demos comparing the watched and the computer-estimated videos. 

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fMRI can identify what participants were thinking about:

A study published in Cerebral Cortex used MRI technology to scan the brains of 19 subjects while they were asked to think about four very different people. According to Cornell University’s R. Nathan Spreng and his colleagues, it turned out that the brains displayed different patterns depending on who the subjects were thinking about. Therefore, the researchers could look at the brain activity revealed on the MRI and pinpoint which of four people the test subjects had in mind. So you could successfully decode who participants were thinking about based on their brain activity. 

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Computer matches brain scan with words:

The world gets a big stranger every day. First there were the scientists who trained monkeys to control a robotic arm using only their brainwaves. Now researchers are saying that they have trained a computer to “read” people’s minds: A computer has been trained to “read” people’s minds by looking at scans of their brains as they thought about specific words. The question researchers are trying to get at is one people have been thinking about for centuries, which is: How does the brain organize knowledge? They calibrated the computer by having nine student volunteers think of 58 different words, while imaging their brain activity. The computer was asked to choose which brain image corresponded with which word. The computer passed the test, predicting when a brain image was taken when a person thought about the word “celery” and when the assigned word was “airplane.” However you can say that the computer knew the word and was trying to guess between two possible words. We don’t know what the raw data was, but the computer had a 50/50% chance of being right. So, if you tested a handful of times, it could be a statistical fluke. It needs a lot of careful testing. That’s for one. Secondly, this is a far different test than telling which of the 58 words a person has in mind.

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Computer can predict neural activation patterns for any concrete noun:

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). Researchers 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. This model is trained with a combination of data from a trillion-word text corpus and observed fMRI data associated with viewing several dozen concrete nouns. 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.

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Reading a person’s thoughts may still be science fiction, but researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University are making surprising progress in specific types of “mind reading.” The team, led by computer scientist Tom Mitchell and cognitive neuroscientist Marcel Just, has demonstrated that they can correctly determine the concrete noun subjects are thinking three out of four times: The team started with the fMRI patterns for 60 concrete nouns, including words for animals, body parts, buildings, clothing, insects, vehicles and vegetables. They then had their computer statistically analyze texts totaling more than 1 trillion words. For each noun, it calculated how frequently it occurs in the text with any of 25 verbs that have sensory or movement meanings, such as see, hear, listen, taste, smell, eat, push, drive and lift. The computer model combined the two sets of data to predict the activation patterns for thousands of concrete nouns, and racked up an accuracy of 77 percent. “We believe we have identified a number of the basic building blocks that the brain uses to represent meaning,” said Mitchell in a statement. “Coupled with computational methods that capture the meaning of a word by how it is used in text files, these building blocks can be assembled to predict neural activation patterns for any concrete noun.” A big reason this seems to work is that people “are fundamentally perceivers and actors. So the brain represents the meaning of a concrete noun in areas associated with how people sense it or manipulate it. The meaning of an apple, for instance, is represented in brain areas responsible for tasting, for smelling, for chewing. An apple is what you do with it.”   

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Identifying natural images from human brain activity using fMRI:

The study is titled, “Identifying natural images from human brain activity” and was performed by a group at UC Berkeley. While in the scanner, subjects were shown a series of natural scenes. Sample Image seems fairly simple. Using fMRI, the investigators acquired a template response from each subject’s visual cortex and then used this template to “decode” the brain’s response to novel images. Without going into the details of how they did this, in one subject the technique correctly identified 110 out of 120 images (92%) that the individual was viewing. Think about this. Simply by scanning the visual cortex of an individual with fMRI and using a fairly straightforward computer algorithm, the investigators were able to determine with a high degree of accuracy what the person was looking at. This is about as close to mind-reading as it gets. Of course, there are a few caveats. The way the experiment was setup meant that the algorithm simply had to take the brain activity and pick from a known set of images which one matched best. This is not quite the same as taking brain activity and reconstructing, de novo, what the person was seeing. But it is the first step. Surely with a large enough library of images this could be done. What is intriguing even more is the possibility of using this technique in the absence of visual stimulation. Much of what we know about imagination suggests that mental imagery utilizes the same brain machinery as visual perception, so it might be possible to use this technique to decode thought in the absence of stimulation.

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fMRI ‘mind reading’ data set available:

Quantitative receptive-field models that characterize the relationship between visual stimuli and fMRI activity in early visual areas make it possible to identify, from a large set of completely novel natural images, which specific image was seen by an observer. Data set contributed by Jack Gallant Lab, UC Berkeley is available. The results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone.

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Reconstruct picture from measuring brain activity:

By using f MRI, researchers decoded activity across the population of neurons in the human medial temporal lobe while participants navigated in a virtual reality environment. Remarkably, they could accurately predict the position of an individual within this environment solely from the pattern of activity in his hippocampus. Traces of individual rich episodic memories are detectable and distinguishable solely from the pattern of fMRI BOLD signals across voxels in the human hippocampus [voxels are 3D pixels, the units of the grid into which brain scans are segmented for analysis]. The results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone.

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Mind-reading technology reconstructs videos from brain using fMRI:

It sounds like science fiction: while volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed. Scientists reported that result in the US and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday. In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate.

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The figure above shows original video images in upper row, and those images reconstructed by computer from brain scans in lower row.

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The new work was published by the journal Current Biology. It’s a step beyond previous work that produced similar results with still images. The paper reports results from the brain scans of three co-authors, who were chosen because the study subjects had to be motivated enough to lie motionless in an MRI machine for hours and stay alert as they stared at a tiny dot. The machine was used for a technique called functional MRI, or fMRI. Unlike ordinary MRI, which reveals anatomy, fMRI shows brain activity. The first task was to teach the computer how different parts of each subject’s brain responded to scenes of moving objects. Participants stared at a dot to keep their eyes still as movie clips lasting 10 to 20 seconds unfolded in the background. That went on for two hours as the MRI machine tracked activity in their brains. The study focused on parts of the brain that respond to simple features like shapes and movement, rather than other parts that identify objects. So it was limited to “only the most basic parts of vision”. Next, the question was: could the computer use that brain activity information to reconstruct what appeared in the movie clips? To test that, researchers fed the computer 18 million one-second YouTube clips that the participants had never seen. They asked the computer to predict what brain activity each of those clips would evoke. Then they asked it to reconstruct the movie clips using the best matches it could find between the YouTube scenes and the participants’ brain activity. The reconstructions are blends of the YouTube snippets, which makes them blurry. Some are better than others. If a human appeared in the original clip, a human form generally showed up in the reconstruction. But one clip that showed elephants walking left to right led to a reconstruction that looked like “a shambling mound”. The YouTube clips hadn’t shown elephants. The quality could be improved by better techniques to blend human forms, as well as a bigger storehouse of moving images. Still, the overall results are one of the most impressive demonstrations of the scientific knowledge of how the visual system works.

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Scientists invent Mind-Reading System that lets you Type with Your Brain:

Adrian Owen has found a way to use brain scans to communicate with people previously written off as unreachable. The patient was only 24 years old when his life was devastated by a car accident. Alive but unresponsive, he had been languishing in what neurologists refer to as a vegetative state for five years, when Owen, a neuro-scientist then at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues at the University of Liège in Belgium, put him into a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and started asking him questions. Incredibly, he provided answers. A change in blood flow to certain parts of the man’s injured brain convinced Owen that patient was conscious and able to communicate. It was the first time that anyone had exchanged information with someone in a vegetative state. Patients in these states have emerged from a coma and seem awake. Some parts of their brains function, and they may be able to grind their teeth, grimace or make random eye movements. They also have sleep–wake cycles. But they show no awareness of their surroundings, and doctors have assumed that the parts of the brain needed for cognition, perception, memory and intention are fundamentally damaged. They are usually written off as lost. Owen’s discovery, reported in 2010, caused a media furor. Medical ethicist Joseph Fins and neurologist Nicholas Schiff, both at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, called it a “potential game changer for clinical practice”.

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Researchers have invented a mind-reading system that, for the first time in history, allows any person to type words and phrases letter by letter, just by thinking. It all occurs in real time, without moving a single muscle or uttering a single word. This is an amazing invention. Not only it will help anyone with serious motor disabilities, but it could potentially affect all of us in an amazing way.  According to the researchers—Bettina Sorger, Joel Reithler, Brigitte Dahmen, Rainer Goebel at Universiteit Maastricht’s Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience Department of Neurocognition—this is the first system that translates thoughts into letters in real time, allowing “back-and-forth communication within a single scanning session.” Sorger and her colleagues—who were inspired by the work of Adrian Owen—claim that this new system requires very little effort to setup, becoming “immediately operational.” They also say that it has a high application potential “both in terms of diagnostics and establishing short-term communication with nonresponsive and severely motor-impaired patients.” Their brain typing system uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyse the hemodynamic responses in the brain—the movement of blood inside our gray matter. These responses are caused by mental images that get tied to each letter of the alphabet using computer analysis algorithms. Once the computer is up and running, the patient can freely type letters, one after the other, using their brain. Each alphabet letter corresponds to one of 27 “reliable and differentiable single-trial fMRI signals.” According to their paper, which has been published in the journal Current Biology, their system has been successfully tried in patients. To set it up, patients looked at the letters on a screen, thinking about something for a specific amount time. After going through all the letters, they would be able to immediately start typing in real time, thanks to the new data analysis methods developed by Sorger and her team. Obviously, the decoding is not as fast typing with your fingers, but it’s a gigantic step towards achieving a natural brain to machine interface. This has the potential of changing the way we interact with technology in a dramatic way. Using fMRI, researchers have developed a device that can help people who are mute or have difficulty speaking to converse with others. Researchers have come up with a device that may enable people who are completely unable to speak or move at all to nevertheless manage unscripted back-and-forth conversation.  

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Mind-reading scan identifies simple thoughts:

Michael Greicius at Stanford University in California and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify patterns of brain activity associated with different mental states. He asked 14 volunteers to do one of four tasks: sing songs silently to themselves; recall the events of the day; count backwards in threes; or simply relax. Participants were given a 10-minute period during which they had to do this. For the rest of that time they were free to think about whatever they liked. The participants’ brains were scanned for the entire 10 minutes, and the patterns of connectivity associated with each task were teased out by computer algorithms that compared scans from several volunteers doing the same task. This differs from previous experiments, in which the subjects were required to perform mental activities at specific times and the scans were then compared with brain activity when they were at rest. Greicius reasons his method encourages “natural” brain activity more like that which occurs in normal thought. Once the algorithms had established the brain activity necessary for each task, Greicius asked 10 new volunteers to think in turn about each of the four tasks. Without knowing beforehand what each volunteer was thinking, the system successfully identified 85 per cent of the tasks they were engaged in. “Out of 40 scans of the new people, we could identify 34 mental states correctly,” he says. It also correctly concluded that subjects were not engaged in any of the four original activities when it analyzed scans of people thinking about moving around their homes. The findings suggest that patterns for thousands of mental states might serve as a reference bank against which people’s thoughts could be compared, potentially revealing what someone is thinking or how they are feeling. “In some dystopian future, you might imagine reference patterns for 10,000 mental states, but that would be a woeful application of this technology,” says Greicius. The idea of the system being used by security services or the justice system to interrogate prisoners or suspects is far-fetched, Greicius says. Thousands of reference patterns would be needed, he points out, and even these might not be enough to tell if someone is lying, for example. Instead, he hopes it could be used in Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia to help identify faults in the connections needed to perform everyday tasks.

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fMRI study to guess intentions:

The scientists who performed the study used functional MRI (fMRI) to monitor subjects’ brain activity while they formed and held an intention. The researchers told each subject that they were about to see a set of two numbers, and they should decide beforehand what they wanted to do with those numbers — either add them or subtract them. There was a several-second delay during which the subjects were supposed to focus on this intention. By clearly separating the intentions from the numbers themselves and the subsequent mathematical action, the researchers sought to isolate the brain activity association with the intended action (“I’m going to add it” or “I’m going to subtract it”) from any brain stimulation resulting from the numbers and the calculations. The brain scans were one part of the study; the other part went on behind the scenes. The researchers had to decide which types of brain activity would indicate which intention in order to establish a computer algorithm that would read the fMRI results. The software incorporates a high degree of complexity. Brain patterns are not necessarily localized; sometimes, in order to fully grasp what’s happening, you need to be able to interpret patterns from different parts of the brain simultaneously. Technological innovation plays a large part in what appears to be a successful attempt to read people’s minds. Using a combination of the brain scans and the computer software, researchers were able to “guess” whether the subject intended to add or subtract the upcoming numbers with 70 percent accuracy — not a bad success rate for mind reading. Activity patterns in the middle of the prefrontal cortex were different depending on whether the subject intended to add or intended to subtract. The researchers essentially looked around the brain and decided, based on all of the activity they were seeing and especially the patterns of stimulation in the prefrontal cortex, whether the brain was preparing to add or subtract. The study also proved some fascinating hypotheses set forth in other experiments that will no doubt lead to some very speedy progress in the area of mind reading via brain scan:

  • Freely chosen intentions are stored in the prefrontal cortex.
  • Intentions based on external orders are stored in a different part of the brain than those based on internal choice. Intentions based on “following orders” live on the surface of the brain, not deep in the gray matter.
  • When intentions are acted upon, the neural activity moves to a slightly different part of the brain, meaning the brain essentially “copies” the intention and transfers it in order to convert it into action.

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Mind-reading scientists predict what a person is going to do before they do it:

It has long been a dream of both scientists and law enforcement officials alike. Researchers monitoring brain activity can now determine what action a person is planning before he carries it out. Although it is currently only possible to know what someone is going to do just moments before it happens, the implications of the breakthrough are huge. Police, for example, would love to know what a criminal is intending to do during a tense armed stand-off. Over the course of a one-year study, volunteers 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 scientists found that by using the signals from many brain regions, they could predict, better than chance, which of the actions the volunteer was merely intending to do, 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. The new findings could also have important clinical implications. Being able to predict a human’s desired movements using brain signals takes us one step closer to using those signals to control prosthetic limbs in movement-impaired patient populations, like those who suffer from spinal cord injuries or locked-in syndrome.

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Drawbacks and limitations of mind reading technology using fMRI & EEG:

The brain is incredibly complex. To say that all thoughts or actions are the result of simple electric signals in the brain is a gross understatement. There are about 100 billion neurons in a human brain. Each neuron is constantly sending and receiving signals through a complex web of connections. There are chemical processes involved as well, which EEGs can’t pick up on. The signal is weak and prone to interference. EEGs measure tiny voltage potentials. Something as simple as the blinking eyelids of the subject can generate much stronger signals. Refinements in EEGs and implants will probably overcome this problem to some extent in the future, but for now, reading brain signals is like listening to a bad phone connection. There’s lots of static. Certainly the advances made so far are overhyped. While a good EEG can capture brainwaves with enough fidelity to recognize changes in level of mental concentration, they can hardly read your thoughts. Getting the kind of signal necessary to accurately identify “thoughts”, whether as intention of a physical movement, image of visual data, or perhaps eventually higher-level conceptual thinking, currently requires a directly-implanted prosthesis – that is, electrodes in the brain. Those are currently expensive, somewhat dangerous (they require cutting or drilling through the skull), and don’t last more than a year or two. I do think that neural implants will become commonplace, however, once the technological hurdles are overcome. In many years, we may have implants that allow us to use neural signals to control devices. It is much more difficult, however, to reverse that control flow effectively. But the comment about the potential of viruses or other attacks (electromagnetic pulse weapons, for instance) to disrupt the function of these devices is worrying. If we rely on them too heavily without taking appropriate security measures, it may be at our peril.

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The important impediment to fMRI technology is the process of neuroimaging itself. MRI scanners are far from being portable enough to allow forced or covert application of brain scanning. Furthermore MRI scanning involves the production of a large magnetic field and the firing of electromagnetic pulses towards the object being imaged, both functions that would be totally impractical outside a controlled, isolated environment. Other neuroimaging methods, such as EEG, function by recording the electrical remnants of brain activity from outside the skull, and are therefore cheaper and more portable than MRI. However they lack the spatial resolution that would be required for any sophisticated mind reading application, and in any case they are extremely sensitive to external noise, again making them unsuitable for use outside of controlled environments. Even if we assume that future technological advances would allow systems to be developed that would enable covert collection brain activity data, would such technology enable your innermost thoughts to be deciphered? There are a number of reasons to doubt that this would be possible. Current mind reading models are only able to distinguish between very broad categories of thoughts, or between very coarse categories of decisions (e.g. lie/truth, attending to one or other stimulus). To be able to read the specific details of an individual’s thoughts you would need models that distinguished between the literally billions of different things that someone could be thinking about, and the multitude of different decisions that they could make. To even create such models would involve the co-operation of individuals in a data collection process that would take an incalculable length of time. Even if such data were collected, and the subsequent required level of computation to create accurate models was possible, the ability to generalize such models to the brain activity of other individuals would rely on an assumption that every person’s brain being identical in terms of where different individual thoughts and memories are stored. This seems extremely unlikely, and is in fact counter to what we know about individual differences in brain anatomy and function. Thus while it is possible to aggregate data across participant to produce mind-reading for coarse decisions, it would be impossible to replicate such a method to distinguish between more subtle categories of thought. Even in situations where co-operation of the participant is attained, and only a coarse distinction between different psychological states is required, such mind reading techniques are problematic. Taking the example of the mooted ‘MRI Lie detector’, such a system will always be somewhat unreliable because, just like the current physiological lie detectors, they could be easily deceived if the participant can train themselves to act as if the truth is a lie (or vice versa). This is because the brain activity which is associated with lying most likely relates to the emotional and cognitive processes involved in creating a false story, rather than to lying per se. It follows that simply engaging in these same emotional and cognitive processes while telling the truth should produce neural activity which mimics that produced by a lie. If even the decoding of simple decisions can be subverted easily, it would seem impossible that attempts at more subtle discriminations of different thoughts would not be subject to even greater uncertainty. Finally it is important to note that all the forms of mind reading reviewed above are the result of probabilistic calculations. The parts of the brain that are deemed active at a certain point in time are the result of statistical computations as to whether a small signal is reflective of task-related neural activity or noise. Likewise the classification of such activity as belonging to one category of thought/decision over another is also based off probabilistic inference. There is no certainty in such a process; in fact it is fraught with uncertainty. To conclude it seems very unlikely that neuroimaging methods will ever be able to perform the sort of mind reading predicted by scare stories in the press. In some cases such methods may not even represent a particular improvement on the sort of mind reading applications that already exist. What the mind reading research discussed in this article does allow is a greater understanding of how the brain works, which in turn provides insight into how the brain achieves the myriad feats it performs so frequently with apparent ease. The most fruitful practical application of such knowledge is likely to be in the treatment of patients with brain damage. For example the limited mind reading functions possible from existing neuroimaging methods may allow technology to be developed that would allow patients who suffer from brain damage to the extent that they can communicate some primitive form of communication through their brain activity. In contrast your private thought and memories are likely to remain safe from the prying eyes of neuroscientists!

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Brain Implant makes Mind-Reading in Rats possible: The Brain-Net:

Scientists have shown that it is possible to transmit instructions from one animal to another by a telepathic-like process of brain-to-brain communication. They believe it is the start of what they are calling “organic” computing based on networks of interconnected brains.  Neuroscientists at Duke University have proven that telepathic communication—between rats—is not only possible, but can be done across continents. Although monkeys have been able to control robots with their mind using brain-to-machine interfaces, work by Nicolelis’s team has, for the first time, demonstrated a direct interface between two brains – with the rats able to share both motor and sensory information. Similar experiments are already being tested on monkeys. The discovery, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first confirmed brain-to-brain communication between animals. In the experiment, two rats that could not see each other were trained to press certain levers in exchange for a food pellet. The feat was achieved by first training rats to press one of two levers when an LED above that lever was lit. A correct action opened a hatch containing a drink of water. The rats were then split into two groups, designated as “encoders” and “decoders”. An array of microelectrodes – each about one-hundredth the width of a human hair – was then implanted in the encoder rats’ primary motor cortex, an area of the brain that processes movement. The team used the implant to record the neuronal activity that occurs just before the rat made a decision in the lever task. They found that pressing the left lever produced a different pattern of activity from pressing the right lever, regardless of which was the correct action. Next, the team recreated these patterns in decoder rats, using an implant in the same brain area that stimulates neurons rather than recording from them. The decoders received a few training sessions to prime them to pick the correct lever in response to the different patterns of stimulation. The researchers then wired up the implants of an encoder and a decoder rat. The pair were given the same lever-press task again, but this time only the encoder rats saw the LEDs come on. Brain signals from the encoder rat were recorded just before they pressed the lever and transmitted to the decoder rat. The decoder rat did not receive a visual cue but instead received brain waves (transmitted through arrays of electrodes between the rats’ brains) that informed it which lever to push. The team found that the decoders, despite having no visual cue, pressed the correct lever between 60 and 72 per cent of the time. The rats’ ability to cooperate was reinforced by rewarding both rats if the communication resulted in a correct outcome. Such reinforcement led to the transmission of clearer signals, improving the rats’ success rate compared with cases where decoders were given a pre-recorded signal. This was a big surprise, says Nicolelis. “The encoder’s brain activity became more precise. This could have happened because the animal enhanced its attention during the performance of the next trial after a decoder error.” If the decoders had not been primed to relate specific activity with the left or right lever prior to the being linked with an encoder, the only consequence would be that it would have taken a bit more time for them to learn the task while interacting with the encoder, says Nicolelis. “We simply primed the decoder so that it would get the gist of the task it had to perform.”  It took researchers years to get this to work. These findings demonstrate for the first time that a direct channel for behavioral information exchange can be established between two animal’s brains without the use of the animal’s regular forms of communication. These experiments showed that researchers have established a sophisticated direct communication linkage between brains…so, basically, they are creating an organic computer. Nicolelis is most excited about the future of multiple networked brains. He is currently trialing the implants in monkeys, getting them to work together telepathically to complete a task. For example, each monkey might only have access to part of the information needed to make the right decision in a game. Several monkeys would then need to communicate with each other in order to successfully complete the task. We cannot even predict what kinds of emergent properties would appear when animals begin interacting as part of a brain-net. In theory, you could imagine that a combination of brains could provide solutions that individual brains cannot achieve by themselves. It’s far too early to think about experimenting with the technology on humans, but that his breakthrough “opens a completely new line of research.” Scientists also claim wires connecting one rodent to another can allow communication spanning continents via the internet:

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The scientists also showed that the direct brain-to-brain communication, carried by fine wires connecting one rat to the other, can be extended over the internet, with rats in Brazil communicating with rats in North Carolina, some 7,500km away. To prove the same experiment could be done with what Nicolelis calls “interference,” he placed one rat in his lab in Durham, N.C., and one in a lab in Brazil. Using an Internet connection, he found the rats were still able to work together. Researchers wanted to show that even when the line was noisy, they were able to get this to work. They used to do this with wires but now we’re doing everything wirelessly and experimenting with swarms of rats. 

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Advantages and Utility of scientific mind reading:

The next step in the research is to build on above discussed results to create a sort of mind-reading database of intentions. If scientists can accurately pinpoint the brain activity signaling particular intentions — such as violent or criminal intentions, the intention to lie, or the intention to read or speak a specific word or move a limb in a certain way, the uses of this process are endless. This is where the ethical debate comes in (vide infra). The finding raises issues about the application of such tools for screening suspected terrorists — as well as for predicting future dangerousness more generally. We are closer than ever to the crime-prediction technology.  Advances in mind reading can lead to better brain-activated wheelchairs, computers and prosthetic limbs. A person without the use of his hands could think, “I plan to go to check my e-mail,” and a computer could open up that person’s inbox. These techniques could be used in many domains. Entertainment, education, medicine and psychiatry, and criminal justice are only the more obvious possibilities. We may be able, one day, to make our own DNE records, to share or program our dreams, to learn new skills direct from the minds of experts, or to communicate with loved ones purely by thinking. If the technology can be miniaturized and the computing power made available, real-time recording of brain function could become a routine aspect of everyday life, perhaps even continuously so. Thus applied, it could prove an unparalleled aid to diagnosis, or even prevention, of mental distress. It could change definition of what counts as unacceptable mental activity, allowing individuals to be treated for thoughts, fantasies or memories they or others find disturbing, even when a doctor would say that there was no clinical problem. And it could solve one of the biggest problems in medicine by establishing a baseline for normal function against which the clinical symptoms could be compared. The sensors have already been used to do simple web searches and may one day help space-walking astronauts and people who cannot talk. The system could send commands to rovers on other planets, help injured astronauts control machines, or aid disabled people. In everyday life, they could even be used to communicate on the sly – people could use them on crowded buses without being overheard. The day when computers will be able to recognize the smallest units in the English language—the 40-odd basic sounds (or phonemes) out of which all words or verbalized thoughts can be constructed. Such skills could be put to many practical uses. The pilot of a high-speed plane or spacecraft, for instance, could simply order by thought alone some vital flight information for an all-purpose cockpit display. There would be no need to search for the right dials or switches on a crowded instrument panel. The development of direct neuro-control over virtual or physical devices would… improve quality of life immensely for those who suffer from impaired communication skills. Brainwave-reading devices (EEG headsets), which control computers hands-free; have become increasingly popular for entertainment, control of prosthetics for paralysed individuals, and military application. Mind reading technology can also be used to control the animation of cartoon avatars. We are also looking at the use of mind-reading to support on-line shopping and learning systems.

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Mind Controlled Wheelchair:

This prototype mind-controlled wheelchair is developed by the University of Electro-Communications in Japan. A little different from the Brain-Computer Typing machine, this thing works by mapping brain waves when you think about moving left, right, forward or back, and then assigns that to a wheelchair command of actually moving left, right, forward or back. The result of this is that you can move the wheelchair solely with the power of your mind.

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Brain- computer interface (BCI) Applications: move paralysed arm or robotic arm:

One of the most exciting areas of BCI research is the development of devices that can be controlled by thoughts. Some of the applications of this technology may seem frivolous, such as the ability to control a video game by thought. If you think a remote control is convenient, imagine changing TV channels with your mind. However, there’s a bigger picture — devices that would allow severely disabled people to function independently.

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Early research used monkeys with implanted electrodes. The monkeys used a joystick to control a robotic arm. Scientists measured the signals coming from the electrodes. Eventually, they changed the controls so that the robotic arm was being controlled only by the signals coming from the electrodes, not the joystick. A more difficult task is interpreting the brain signals for movement in someone who can’t physically move their own arm. With a task like that, the subject must “train” to use the device. With an EEG or implant in place, the subject would visualize closing his or her right hand. After many trials, the software can learn the signals associated with the thought of hand-closing. Software connected to a robotic hand is programmed to receive the “close hand” signal and interpret it to mean that the robotic hand should close. At that point, when the subject thinks about closing the hand, the signals are sent and the robotic hand closes. A similar method is used to manipulate a computer cursor, with the subject thinking about forward, left, right and back movements of the cursor. With enough practice, users can gain enough control over a cursor to draw a circle, access computer programs and control a TV. It could theoretically be expanded to allow users to “type” with their thoughts. Once the basic mechanism of converting thoughts to computerized or robotic action is perfected, the potential uses for the technology are almost limitless. Instead of a robotic hand, disabled users could have robotic braces attached to their own limbs, allowing them to move and directly interact with the environment. This could even be accomplished without the “robotic” part of the device. Signals could be sent to the appropriate motor control nerves in the hands, bypassing a damaged section of the spinal cord and allowing actual movement of the subject’s own hands. Just imagine the potential benefits. Such a development would allow both the fit and the disabled to operate machines merely by choosing what they want those machines to do. It would permit the profoundly handicapped—those paralyzed by conditions such as motor-neuron disease and cerebral palsy—to communicate more easily than is now possible even with the text-based speech engines used by the likes of Stephen Hawking. It might unlock the mental prisons of people apparently in comas, who nevertheless show some signs of neural activity. For the able-bodied, it could allow workers to dictate documents silently to computers simply by thinking about what they want to say. The most profound implication, however, is that it would abolish the ability to lie.

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Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) headbands for air traffic controller:

Tufts University researchers have begun a three-year research project which, if successful, will allow computers to respond to the brain activity of the computers user. Users wear futuristic-looking headbands to shine light on their foreheads, and then perform a series of increasingly difficult tasks while the device reads what parts of the brain are absorbing the light. That info is then transferred to the computer, and from there the computer can adjust its interface and functions to each individual. One professor used the following example of a real world use: “If it knew which air traffic controllers were overloaded, the next incoming plane could be assigned to another controller.” Hence if we get 100% accuracy these computers may find various applications in many fields of electronics where we have very less time to react.

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Mind-reading computers could ‘save your life’:

Scientists are researching ways to monitor motorists’ brain waves to improve reaction times in a crash. In an emergency stop situation, the brain activity kicks in on average around 200 milliseconds before even an alert driver can hit the brake. There is no question of braking automatically for a driver – researchers would never take away that kind of control. However, there are various things the car can do in that crucial time, tighten the seat belt, for example. Using this brain-wave monitoring technology, a car can also tell whether the driver is drowsy or not, potentially warning him or her to take a break.

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Mind-Reading Tech helps students overcome Test Anxiety:

The University of Iowa is offering a new service to help students overcome test anxiety, using a mind-reading technology that guides them into a state of relaxation. So-called “Biofeedback” displays students’ brainwaves in real-time and alerts them when they’ve dropped into a state of calm focus. Once a student learns to reduce their anxiety using skills learned through biofeedback training, their performance increases significantly — often resulting in dramatic improvements in academic performance.

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Mind reading games:

EEG converts the electrical impulses of the brain into patterns that can be seen on a computer. It’s less precise than fMRI, but it can provide a glimpse of the overall mood of the brain or what are called dominant mental states. It turns out that metric, attention and relaxation, provides enough feedback for a wide range of mind-powered applications, mostly in entertainment and games.

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Improve human-human communication:

The mind-reading computer system may also be used to monitor and suggest improvements in human-human interaction. The Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Laboratory is developing an emotional-social intelligence prosthesis that explores new technologies to augment and improve people’s social interactions and communication skills.

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Web search:

 For the first test of the sensors, scientists trained the software program to recognize six words – including “go”, “left” and “right” – and 10 numbers. Participants hooked up to the sensors silently said the words to themselves and the software correctly picked up the signals 92 per cent of the time. Then researchers put the letters of the alphabet into a matrix with each column and row labeled with a single-digit number. In that way, each letter was represented by a unique pair of number co-ordinates. These were used to silently spell “NASA” into a web search engine using the program. This proved we could browse the web without touching a keyboard.

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The future of crime-solving?

 The ability to read our thoughts and intentions this way is revolutionary. Throughout history, we could never actually coerce someone to reveal information. Torture doesn’t work well, persuasion also doesn’t work that well. Today you can brain image suspect and get information directly from his brain just like DNA, blood, semen, and other things that you could take from him in a criminal investigation.  

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EEG Scans analyze Brain Waves to uncover Terrorist Plots before they happen:

Mind-reading can improve national security, a new study says. Brain-wave scanners could help authorities uncover secret details of a terrorist plot and help pinpoint people with guilty plans before they commit a crime, according to research conducted at Northwestern University. If the test works in real life, authorities will be able to pluck information from terrorist “chatter” and study the brain waves of terror suspects to confirm information about an attack in advance, such as date, location and weapon. Even when the researchers had no advance details about mock terrorism plans, the technology still identified critical concealed information, according to J. Peter Rosenfeld, a psychology professor at Northwestern. Given a few details, the system works flawlessly, the researchers say. The team used a mock terrorism scenario in which the subjects planned an attack in a major city. They were given information about weapons and bombs, and they had to write a letter about their plans to encode the information in memory. Then, researchers attached electrodes to the “suspects” and measured their P300 brain waves, a type of cortical activity that occurs when meaningful information is presented to a person with guilty knowledge. It has been debated as a replacement for polygraphs. “MindReader 2.0″, originally developed by the Russian KGB, covertly scans minds to measure reactions from subliminal messages sent. For example, terrorist responses to images of Osama bin Laden or World Trade Center differs from those of innocent people.

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Thought-talking between two soldiers during war:

UC Irvine researchers received a $4 million military grant to produce a telepathy system that benefits soldiers on the battlefield and could also help paralysis and stroke victims. The scientists are building a brain-computer interface that lets people communicate their thoughts. Soldiers “think” a message and a speech recognition system decode the signals and transmit them to the intended target allowing “thought-talking” between the two.

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Military potential of communication between human and animal:

Patrick Degenaar at Newcastle University in the UK says that the military might one day be able to deploy genetically modified insects or small mammals that are controlled by the brain signals of a remote human operator. These would be drones that could feed themselves, he says, and could be used for surveillance or even assassination missions. “You’d probably need a flying bug to get near the head [of someone to be targeted],” he says.

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Pentagon’s Mind-Reading Computers Replicate:

The Air Force has tapped Design Interactive, Inc. to build a battlefield command-and-control system that works along these lines. It’s supposed to use EEG and eye-tracking monitors to “assess the operator’s actual cognitive state.”  That way, the system can play around with its “information display” to “avoid cognitive bottlenecks before they occur.”  And that’s just the start.  Eventually, the company wants the program to “anticipate future mission state and operator functional state ahead of time,” too. This Air Force has also handed out a contract to Quantum Applied Science and Research, Inc. to perfect a mind-reading interface for squads of killer drones.  Supervising all those armed, flying robots might be doable when things are relatively calm.  But, in the heat of battle, it might be too much for one puny human mind to handle unassisted. Darpa isn’t done with these technologies, either.  The agency plans to spend $12 million next year on brain-science programs like Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts.  It’s an AugCog-inspired effort to tap the firings of the subconscious mind to sort through satellite pictures quickly.  Early tests have shown as much as a six-fold increase in the analysts’ efficiency, when the computer and the brain work together. 

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Disadvantages and Harms of mind reading:

Do it poorly and the consequences are serious: It can lead to conflict born of misunderstanding. It can make us feel lonely within a relationship. It can even incite violence: Abusive husbands typically—and inaccurately—attribute critical thoughts to their wives; that’s why they lash out. Difficulty divining others’ thoughts and feelings—”mind-blindness”— characterizes autism and is what makes the condition so socially debilitating. What is mind reading?  Mind reading is simply making an assumption about someone who has hurt or disappointed us without confirming it. When we do this we believe a lie about this person in our heads. This assumption is a misrepresentation of reality because we have not checked it out with the other person. It is very possible that we are believing something untrue. It is also likely that we will pass our false assumptions around to others. Acting on assumptions, without checking them out, is a common source of confusion and conflict in relationships. Often we are unaware of the havoc it creates in marriages, schools, families and workplaces. The popular press tends to over-dramatize scientific advances in mind reading. fMRI results have to account for heart rate, respiration, motion and a number of other factors that might all cause variance in the signal. Also, individual brains differ, so scientists need to study subject’s patterns before they can train a computer to identify those patterns or make predictions.

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Issue of criminality and mind reading: [read my article on ‘Science of crime’]

In the Dec. 19, 2006, issue of The Economist, an article questioned the scientific validity of the notion of free will: Individuals with particular congenital genetic characteristics are predisposed, if not predestined, to violence. Studies have shown that genes and organic factors like frontal lobe impairments, low serotonin levels and dopamine receptors are highly correlated with criminal behavior. Studies of twins show that heredity is a major factor in criminal conduct. While no one gene may make you a criminal, a mixture of biological factors, exacerbated by environmental conditions, may well do so. Now to judge such complex behavior by fMRI and EEG to determine criminal intent is a bit too farfetched and too oversimplified. Max Planck Institute of neuroscience & bioscience is not at a point where we can reliably predict human behavior. To me, that is the most powerful objection to a preventative justice system — if we aren’t particularly good at predicting future behavior, we risk criminalizing the innocent. We aren’t particularly good at rehabilitation, either, so even if we were sufficiently accurate in identifying future offenders, we wouldn’t really know what to do with them. Nor is society ready to deal with the ethical and practical problems posed by a system that classifies and categorizes people based on oxygen flow, genetics and environmental factors that are correlated as much with poverty as with future criminality. In time, neuroscience may produce reliable behavior predictions. But until then, we should take the lessons of science fiction to heart when deciding how to use new predictive techniques.   

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Is Brain Hacking possible using mind reading technology? Not impossible.

Scientists have discovered a way to mind-read personal secrets, such as bank PIN numbers and personal associations, using a cheap headset. As brain-controlled devices become more common, the researches warn that viruses could discretely display images on a screen and help tech-savvy thieves narrow down their search for private information. In a study, Participants were outfitted with commercial-grade brain-wave reading devices and shown a list of people, possible PIN numbers, and the likely location of their home. Often, when the researchers stumbled upon the actual information they were seeking, they saw an expected spike in brain-wave P300, which is known to activate when presented with familiar information. Researchers could guess the correct answer for participants’ first PIN number 20% of the time, the regional location of their home 30%, birth month 60%, and the bank branch of their ATM 30%. With refinement, the researchers imagine that the brain-hacking technique will get more accurate.

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Ethical concerns:

There are ethical concerns not with the current research, but with the possible extensions of it. There has to be a balance. If we are somehow able to encode someone’s thoughts instantaneously that might have great benefits for the thousands of severely disabled people who are unable to communicate right now; then on the other hand, there are great concerns if this were applied to people who didn’t want that. Mind-reading makes the ethical issues already raised by recent developments in social media — such as tailoring adverts to a person’s profile and location — seem minor, especially if it becomes possible to apply the technology covertly. Yet it raises many of the same concerns, so we can regard public reaction to social media as a trial run for more distant products of the brain supremacy. Breach of mental privacy does cause anxiety given the many gaps between thought and behavior. This is especially problematic when the technology intersects with power differentials in our unequal society. The powerful are likely to have more access, both to mind-reading and mind-protecting technologies. Another concern is to do with control and ownership. Who would own the DNE data gathered by mind-reading technologies? Who could exploit it for gain? If you took a photograph of a person in the street, you might view that photograph as yours, but would that be equally true if you took a brain scan? What if your government scanned you, either without consent or with consent gained by some form of pressure, like making a scan mandatory for certain jobs, benefits, or tax concessions? Would you be happy for that information to be held at all, given governments’ lamentable history of incompetence when it comes to data security? Would you be happy for it to be passed to all sorts of third parties in the name of greater efficiency? Or would you want the ability to opt out and delete the data?  Government allows the invasion of its citizens’ privacy for specific reasons, like suspected criminality. Mind-reading scans, however, might well be vulnerable to reanalysis for reasons never used to justify the original study. Some kinds of scans might also provide information irrelevant to the purpose of the scan but hugely important to the individual scanned, such as the discovery of a brain tumor. This could be extremely damaging for individuals if a scan taken for one purpose (e.g., to vet a candidate, by an employer) was then reanalyzed for another (e.g., to look for disease, by an insurance agent). Clinical neuroimaging technologies have procedures in place for this eventuality, but if mind-reading is to become available to people beyond the current specialized user base, we need to think carefully about who has access and what training, if any, they receive. As brain scanning technologies become able to detect not just blatant disease but more subtle changes, the ethical problems they carry become more acute. Some are familiar from other contexts, like genetics: What if a scan shows the earliest signs of an incurable neurodegenerative disorder? Some, however, are peculiar to the brain and come down to the emphasis we humans place on certain aspects of brain function — the ones we call beliefs and desires. Here’s an example: Imagine you’ve applied for a job as a schoolteacher. You reluctantly agreed to the routine brain scan and are horrified to be told that the machine detected the presence of inappropriate thoughts about children. Not only do you fail to get the job, you risk being stigmatized, losing access to your own family, and being forcibly detained for “rehabilitation.” The problem? You were so nervous that you found yourself wondering if you could ever have felt a sexual urge towards a child. Anxiously reviewing your past encounters with children, you involuntarily remembered an uncomfortable teenage experience of sex. The machine correctly detected anxiety, thoughts of sex, and memories of being with children, but the interpretation was dangerously wrong. Pedophilia, most people agree, is an evil, and its status is reflected in law. When it comes to those beliefs and desires disliked by many but not (yet) made illegal, the possibilities evoked by practical telepathy start to look very worrying indeed. If, kept awake yet again by my noisy neighbors, I dream of them dropping abruptly and quietly dead, I don’t want that wicked thought made public, with names and dates attached. Especially not if it earns me an antisocial thought order, or whatever equivalent future governments use to crush their less-than-perfect citizens into shape. People whose sex lives include unconventional — but entirely theoretical — components may likewise want to keep their fantasies to themselves. So may anyone whose criticisms of those in power, if openly stated, might cause them problems. The gap between thought and action allows space for human agency: self-control, the understanding that fantasy and reality are distinct, and the acceptance essential to maturity, that not all desires can or should be gratified. Remove that gap, and one consequence will be that human beings become more infantilized, less able to control their own behavior, and more tolerant of external controls like social pressure and state power. Any form of social control, once applied, is far easier to extend than to roll back. Society is already extremely conformist. Thought-reading, potentially so good for social openness, could be catastrophic for personal liberty. Research scientists may be currently barred by ethical constraints from doing the kinds of studies which would directly threaten that liberty, but ethical climates change — as we are already seeing with ideas about privacy since the arrival of social networking. Even if research restrictions are maintained, streams of progress which find their way blocked by ethics are apt to be diverted into other channels, such as those offered by military research or some private enterprise, where the moral constraints are looser. If ever there were a “dual-use” technology, offering both benefits and dangers, mind-reading is surely it. These examples involve potential harms to individuals.

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There are other cases, however, which do not cause obvious harm but which may nonetheless make us feel uncomfortable about the benefits of ultimate openness. Here is an actual instance from a conference where neuroimaging results were presented prior to publication. The fMRI experiment involved showing religious and non-religious people pictures of women. The “experimental” picture had religious meaning; the “control” picture looked similar but had artistic rather than religious value. The results were as expected apart from one religious gentleman, whose brain had responded more intensely to the control image. When the researchers inquired, he confessed that he had found the lady in the picture rather attractive. So they slipped that information into the presentation. Cue amusement from presenter and audience. The data were anonymous, and the participant, who gave up his time, unpaid, for science is most unlikely ever to know he’s been laughed at, so where’s the harm?  Since no harm is done, does it matter if the researchers are less than respectful to their volunteers? Or is harm not the only consideration here? The laughter did wrong that unknown man and demeaned the gigglers, though they caused no harm.

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Mind reading technology and human rights:

The right to keep one’s thoughts locked up in their brain is amongst the most fundamental rights of being human. But some wonder if this mind reading technology infringes on human rights. Americans have the right to not provide testimony that incriminates them, so should it be legal for an investigator to “read” a person’s mind to get evidence to convict him? This issue will probably require American Supreme Court decision. However, in my view, if a man is alleged to have committed heinous crime like rape, murder or terrorism, the human rights of victims and kin of victims cannot be overlooked. They want justice and retribution. Under such circumstances, using mind reading technology to gather evidence is reasonable.  

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Biophotons:

Just to exemplify the seminal importance of this phenomenon of biophoton emission, we can only remember that photons from the sun excite electrons here on earth, leading them to higher energy states that can be used to make phosphate bonds of high energy by the process of photosynthesis. The release of the energy stored in these vegetal cells’ bonds is the basic element that makes life possible on Earth. At mitochondria level, on respiratory chain processes, electrons are transferred between molecules, in a downward cascade fashion, to lower energy states, producing light and the electric current that make life possible.

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A biophoton is a photon of light emitted from a biological system and detected by biological probes as part of the general weak electromagnetic radiation of living biological cells. The typical detected magnitude of “biophotons” in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum ranges from a few up to several hundred photons per second per square centimetre of surface area.In the 1970s the then assistant professor Fritz-Albert Popp, and his research group, at the University of Marburg (Germany) showed that the spectral distribution of the emission fell over a wide range of wavelengths, from 200 to 800 nm. Popp proposed that the radiation might be both semi-periodic and coherent. Russian, German, and other biophotonics experts, often adopting the term “biophotons” from Popp, have theorized that they may be involved in various cell functions, such as mitosis, or even that they may be produced and detected by the DNA in the cell nucleus. In 1974 Dr. V.P.Kaznacheyev announced that his research team in Novosibirsk had detected intercellular communication by means of these rays. Biophotons are barely measurable. The light they emit is comparable to that of a candle flame 12 miles away. For this reason, Fritz-Albert Popp devised an ingenious amplifier to study cells’ biophotonic emissions. The change of biophotonic activity is noticeable under physiological and pathological conditions. For example, mechanical, thermal and chemical stresses, mitochondrial respiration, the cell cycle and cancer growth lead to these biophotonic activities.  

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In 1974 German biophysicist Fritz-Albert Popp has proved their existence, their origin from the DNA and later their coherence (laser-like nature), and has developed biophoton theory to explain their possible biological role and the ways in which they may control biochemical processes, growth, differentiation etc. Popp’s biophoton theory leads to many startling insights into the life processes and may well provide one of the major elements of a future theory of life and holistic medical practice based on such an approach. The importance of the discovery has been confirmed by eminent scientists such as Herbert Froehlich and Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine. Since 1992, the International Institute of Biophysics, a network of research laboratories in more than 10 countries, based in Germany, is coordinating research in this field which promises rapid development in the next decade.  

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A Russian scientist has managed to intercept communication from a DNA molecule in the form of ultraviolet photons – in other words, light. It is well known that if you use UV light to destroy 99 percent of a cell including its DNA, you can almost entirely repair the damage in a single day just by illuminating the cell with the same wavelength at a much weaker intensity. This phenomenon is known as photo-repair. It’s well known that plants use energy from sunlight to make food, but plants are not the only living beings that have a complex relationship with, and need for light. When we eat plant foods, the light waves or photons, in the plants are taken in and stored by your body. Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in, and used by all biological organisms – including your body. The purpose of these biophotons is much more important than many have realized. It turns out they may very well be in control of virtually every biochemical reaction that occurs in your body – including supporting your body’s ability to heal. Every human body emits biophotons (light) on a daily basis, in concentrations that rise and fall with your body clock and the rhythmic fluctuations of your metabolism over the course of the day.

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It is known in biology that every cell in your body has over 100,000 biochemical reactions per second, all of which must be carefully timed and sequenced with each other. For a long time it was proposed that this occurred through a “mechanical” concept whereby molecules bumped into each other by chance but now researchers believe this cellular dance is not random at all, but rather controlled by biophotons. The molecules of these 100,000 biochemical reactions per second, send out specific frequencies of electromagnetic waves (biophotons) which not only enable them to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ each other, as both photon and phonon modes exist for electromagnetic waves, but also to influence each other at a distance and become ineluctably drawn to each other.  We are swimming in an ocean of light. These biophoton emissions provided an ideal communication system for the transfer of information to many cells across the organism. But the single most important question remained: where was the light coming from?  A particularly gifted student talked to Popp about another experiment. It is known that when ethidium bromide is applied to samples of DNA, it insinuates itself in between the base pairs of the double helix, causing DNA to unwind. The student suggested that, after applying the chemical, they measure the light coming from the sample. Popp found that the greater the concentration of ethidium, the more the DNA unraveled, but also the stronger the intensity of light. Conversely, the less he used, the less light was emitted.  He also found that DNA could send out a wide range of frequencies, some of which seemed to be linked to certain functions. If DNA stored this light, it would naturally emit more light on being unzipped. These and other studies proved to Popp that one of the most essential sources of light and biophoton emissions was DNA. DNA was like the master tuning fork of the body. It would strike a particular frequency and certain molecules would follow. It was also possible, he realized, that he had stumbled upon the missing link in current DNA theory that could account for perhaps the greatest miracle of all in human biology — how a single cell can turn into a fully formed human being. DNA not only emits biophotons but also absorbs biophotons.

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The biophoton light is stored in the cells, almost exclusively inside the DNA molecules, managing processes, akin a dynamic web of light, which is constantly released and absorbed. It may reach and connect cell organelles as well as higher hierarchic levels, like cells, tissues or organs within the body, serving as the organism’s main communication network. Due to the their physical properties, biophotons can operate as a coherent electromagnetic radiation field and, in consequence, we can relate them to laser radiation and to holographic interference patterns, possibly sustaining the holographic processes of brain or consciousness, as mainly postulated by neurophysiologist Karl Pribram. There are so many ramifications to the study of biophotonic emissions that it is difficult to elucidate at this time. Biophoton studies seem to indicate that the emission is coherent and that biophotons may be modulated and communicate information not only throughout the body but into the extended environment. It may be the process by which DNA actually communicates its information to protein molecules in the process of morphogenesis. It may have relevance to extra-sensory modes of communication with other life forms and may explain many mysteries of life.

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The discovery of biophoton emission lends empirical scientific support to some unconventional methods of healing based on concepts of homeostasis (self-regulation of the organism), such as various somatic therapies, homeopathy and acupuncture. The “ch’i” energy flowing in our bodies’ energy channels (meridians) which according to Traditional Chinese Medicine regulates our body functions may be related to node lines of the organism’s biophoton field. The “prana” of Indian Yoga physiology may be a similar regulating energy force that has a basis in weak, coherent electromagnetic biofields. However, there is neither scientific evidence nor double blind controlled trials to substantiate role of biophotons in these alternative medicine.

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How cells “talk” to each other:

When you get a cut or scratch on your skin, the cells that are injured somehow signal the surrounding healthy cells to begin reproducing copies of themselves to fill in and mend the opening. When the skin is back to normal, a signal is sent to the cells to tell them to stop reproducing. Scientists have wondered exactly how this works. With biophoton emissions, Popp believed he had an answer to this question. This phenomenon of coordination and communication could only occur in a holistic system with one central orchestrator. Popp showed in his experiments that these weak light emissions were sufficient to orchestrate the body’s repairs. The emissions had to be low intensity because these communications took place on a very small, intracellular, quantum level. Higher intensities would have an effect only in the world of the large and would create too much “noise” to be effective. The number of photons emitted seemed to be linked to the organism’s position on the evolutionary scale — the more complex the organism, the fewer photons were emitted. Rudimentary animals and plants tended to emit 100 photons/cm2/sec at a wavelength of 200-800 nm, corresponding to a very-high-frequency EM wave well within the visible range, whereas humans emit only 10 photons/cm2/sec at the same frequency.  

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Hypothesis of biophotons as means of extra-sensory biocommunication:

The light emission is an expression of the functional state of the organism, be it human, animal or plant. These waves of electromagnetic emissions create an electromagnetic (or morphic) field around each and every organism. These fields do not exist in isolation but rather merge into a collective global consciousness or intelligence, also termed the spirit of matter. All is interconnected. Cells as part of a biological organism are accustomed to obeying orders. Hormones and nerve impulses, biophotons and consciousness are part of the particular chain of command. We encounter consciousness as a control command for biological processes, for example in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), in spiritual healing, in remote healing, in the incantation of warts or also in the strategy of imagining one’s blood as a soldier and sending it to the place where, for example, a tumor is to be treated (Simonton method).  Since this biocommunication largely takes place outside the realm we can perceive with our five senses or measure with physical measuring devices, its effect is often mistrusted. More recently, however, traditional medicine has also been getting interested in the subject, under the general title of psycho-neuro-immunology. Each light emission or bio photon has a twin photon which has been scientifically proven to maintain simultaneous contact with each other over any distance.

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Research suggests cells communicate via biophotons:

Now, new research by Sergey Mayburov, of the Lebedev Institute of Physics in Moscow, has uncovered a pattern in photons being generated by cells in fish eggs that gives credence to the theory that some cells use biophotons to communicate. He has written a paper describing his results and has posted it on the preprint server arXiv. The structure of optical radiation emitted by the samples of loach fish eggs is studied. It was found earlier that such radiation perform the communications between distant samples, which result in the synchronization of their development. The photon radiation in form of short quasi-periodic bursts was observed for fish and frog eggs; hence the communication mechanism can be similar to the exchange of binary encoded data in the computer nets via the noisy channels. The data analysis of fish egg radiation demonstrates that in this case the information encoding is similar to the digit to time analogue algorithm.

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Biophotons as a possible missing link in communication between organism and environment:

Antonia Guiditta had proposed a “spiral mechanism of evolution” which has a “bi-directional flow of information between the environment and the organism that can affect the genome of an evolving species.” This suggests that “the remarkable computing capacities of the organism’s integrative functions becomes a plausible explanation option” for its responses to its environment which involves automatic complex algorithms within the nervous system that “control performance on all levels of organization, from molecules to behavior”. In this theory an organisms constituent units are organized partly due to their inclusion in a more complex system which cannot be determined by these constituent units alone. In order for this theory to work there must be a means of how “internal information of an organism can be transmitted and shared on all levels of biological organization”. This is where biophysicist Fritz-A Popp’s biophoton mechanism fits in. He suggests that this missing piece needed to complete the complex whole is through the exchange of light, or through “biophotons”. Biophotons are particles of light which are continuously being absorbed and emitted by all organisms and subsystems within. This radiation of light detectable, measurable and most importantly behaves coherently, in a “laser-like fashion, whereby the sub-systems act collectively to signal the state of the entire emitting organism”. The degree of this coherence is very useful as it indicates the health of the organism, and could also be a possible physical existence of the human aura. The studies seem to indicate that the biophotons’ emission is a coherent process and that they can be modulated to carry information not only throughout the whole organism, but also to the environment, including a possible relevance on extra-sensory ways of exchange of energy/information with other live beings.  

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Biophotons as neural communication signals demonstrated by in situ biophoton autography: A study:

Cell to cell communication by biophotons has been demonstrated in plants, bacteria, animal neutrophil granulocytes and kidney cells. Whether such signal communication exists in neural cells is unclear. By developing a new biophoton detection method, called in situ biophoton autography (IBA), researchers have investigated biophotonic activities in rat spinal nerve roots in vitro. They found that different spectral light stimulation (infrared, red, yellow, blue, green and white) at one end of the spinal sensory or motor nerve roots resulted in a significant increase in the biophotonic activity at the other end. Such effects could be significantly inhibited by procaine (a regional anesthetic for neural conduction block) or classic metabolic inhibitors, suggesting that light stimulation can generate biophotons that conduct along the neural fibers, probably as neural communication signals. The mechanism of biophotonic conduction along neural fibers may be mediated by protein-protein biophotonic interactions. This study may provide a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of neural communication, the functions of the nervous system, such as vision, learning and memory, as well as the mechanisms of human neurological diseases.

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Recent discoveries by Russian scientist Peter Gariaev lead him to propose a theory of the DNA-wave Biocomputer.  They suggest (1)  that there are genetic “texts”, similar to natural context-dependent texts in human language; (2)  that the chromosome apparatus acts simultaneously both as a source and receiver of these genetic texts, respectively decoding and encoding them; (3) the chromosome continuum acts like a dynamical holographic gate, which displays or transduces weak laser light and solitonic electro-acoustic fields. The distribution of the character frequency in genetic texts is fractal, so the nucleotides of DNA molecules are able to form holographic pre-images of biostructures.(so copying at a distance?)

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DNA as Biological Internet:

Researchers proved that biophotons (light) in your body is stored by, and emitted from your DNA. The DNA inside each cell vibrates at a frequency of several billion hertz (which is unfortunately the same range at which modern cell phone communication systems also work). The vibration is created through the coil-like contraction and extension of your DNA -which occurs several billion times per second – and every time it contracts, it squeezes out one single biophoton; a light particle. That photon contains all the information on everything going on in your DNA at that moment. One single biophoton can carry more than four megabytes of information, and relays this information to other biophotons it crosses in the biophoton field outside your body. All the photons that are emitted from your body communicate with each other in this highly structured light field that surrounds your body, and which is the actual carrier of your long-term memory. This light field also regulates the activity of your metabolic enzymes. The information transfer on biophotons is bidirectional, which means your DNA sends information out on a photon, and on the same photon the information of all the biophotons from your body is broadcast back to your cells, and to your tubulin, which are light conductive molecules in your connective tissue. The tubulin in turn, receives the information-carrying light impulse and conducts it at the speed of light throughout your body, where it is translated inside each cell into activating or inactivating certain metabolic enzymes. Researchers found that the light emissions from cancer patients had no such rhythms and appeared scrambled, which suggests their cells were no longer communicating properly. Likewise researchers found that multiple sclerosis patients were taking in too much light, leading to a similar confusion on a cellular level. So various diseases occur when biophoton emissions are out of synchrony. The human DNA is a Biological Internet (emitting/receiving information in the form of biophotons) and superior in many aspects to the artificial one used by us. The latest scientific research directly or indirectly tries to explain phenomena such as clairvoyance, intuition, spontaneous and remote acts of healing, self healing, affirmation techniques, unusual light-auras around people (namely spiritual masters), mind’s influence on weather-patterns and much more. In addition, there is evidence for a whole new type of medicine in which DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed by words and frequencies without cutting out and replacing single genes. Only 10% of our DNA is being used for building proteins. The other 90% are considered “junk DNA.”  Researchers however are convinced that nature was not dumb and joined linguists & geneticists in a venture to explore these 90% of “junk DNA.” Their results, findings and conclusions are simply revolutionary! According to them, our DNA is not only responsible for the construction of our body, but also serves as data storage and in communication. I have already proved in my article on ‘Matchmaking’ that it is the DNA which wants to mate with a suitable DNA to procreate a better DNA. Suitable DNA means dissimilar DNA because if DNA mates with similar DNA, it would procreate similar DNA and not better DNA. This is a scientific evidence of consciousness of human DNA.

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Biophotons in brain:

All living cells of plants, animals and humans continuously emit ultraweak biophotons (ultraweak electromagnetic waves) in the optical range of the spectrum, which is associated with their physiological states and can be measured using special equipment. Neural cells also continuously emit biophotons. The intensity of biophotons is in direct correlation with neural activity, cerebral energy metabolism, EEG activity, cerebral blood flow and oxidative processes. According to Van Wijk et al., there are significant correlations between the fluctuations in biophoton emission and fluctuations in the strength of electrical alpha wave production in the brain. Some unpublished observations suggest that the state of the biophoton field of a person may be connected to the state of the brain as measured by the EEG (e.g., degree of synchronization and coherence). Certain meditative states characterized by a high degree of coherence in the EEG may well be accompanied by a high degree of coherence in the biophoton field. Biophoton emission from neural tissue depends on the neuronal membrane depolarization and Ca2+ entry into the cells. This biophoton emission can be facilitated by the membrane depolarization of neurons by a high concentration of K+ and can be attenuated by application of tetrodotoxin or removal of extracellular Ca2+. Recently, Sun et al. demonstrated that neurons can conduct photon signals. Moreover, Wang et al. presented the first experimental proof of the existence of spontaneous and visible light induced biophoton emission form freshly isolated rat’s whole eye, lens, vitreous humor and retina. They proposed that retinal phosphenes may originate from natural bioluminescent biophotons within the eyes. However, the retina is part of the central nervous system. Recently, Bókkon suggested that biophysical pictures may emerge due to redox regulated biophotons in retinotopically organized cytochrome oxidase-rich neural networks during visual perception and imagery within early visual areas. It seems that bioelectronic and biophotonic processes are not independent biological events in the nervous system. Therefore, researchers conclude that biophoton emission within neurons can be directly correlated with biochemical processes. According to Bókkon et al., the real biophoton intensity within cells and neurons can be considerably higher than one would expect from the measurement of ultraweak bioluminescence, which is generally carried out macroscopically several centimeters away from the tissue or cell culture. Moreover, the most significant fraction of natural biophoton intensity cannot be accurately measured because it is absorbed during cellular processes.

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I have already shown that human DNA functions as a biological internet emitting and receiving biophotons, thereby maintaining homeostasis of cells and communicative interaction with the environment. Neurons in the brain also similarly emit and receive biophotons to regulate nervous tissue functions and it is the coherence of these biophotons in brain which create our consciousness. Theoretically it is possible for one human brain to communicate with another human brain via biophoton give and take; but practically these biophotons are very very weak light waves effective only in intra-cellular and inter-cellular actions.

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ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) Radiation from human brain:

The human brain emits a very unique form of radiation that can be photographed and measured. A research paper reports the measurement of the radiation from humans in ELF band using two types of antennas. A briefly analysis of the measured spectra diagrams is made and consequently a conclusion is made that man (human brain) is emitting EM energy in the frequency interval of 0.5 – 30 Hz. This is ELF radiation from brain. It is well known that the brain is an electrochemical organ; researchers have speculated that a fully functioning brain can generate as much as 10 watts of electrical power. Even though this electrical power is very limited, it does occur in very specific ways that are characteristic of the human brain. Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves. Brain waves have no constant frequency, but their frequency is changing. The whole control system is buried deeply in the brain, in the thalamus. The thalamus is switching and integrating center of excitements coming from sensors, from the spinal cord and the brain stem to the cerebral cortex. The system is called thalamic rhythmic generator or “pacemaker”. Calcium ions are seeping slowly to particular thalami-cortical neurons, which are oscillating 1.528 sec and are triggering brain waves. Then, the brain waves propagate up to the cerebral cortex. If those neurons are saturated with calcium ions, the thalamic oscillations stop. The brain waves are “idling” during this “silent phase”, lasting from 5 to 25 seconds. The thalamic oscillations start again, when the calcium level in cells drops to the value allowing the neuron to oscillate again. EEG has shown that waves do not expand to the brain only, but through the whole nervous system (through the perineural system) and to every part of the organism. So, the brain waves adjust sensitivity and activity of the whole nervous system. The time domain, where the brain waves are not thalamus controlled is the most interesting part of the system. Then the brain field can be affected by electrical and magnetic rhythms from outside, natural or artificial. There are four categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. When the brain is aroused and actively engaged in mental activities, it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude, and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. The frequency of beta waves ranges from 15 to 40 cycles a second. Beta waves are characteristics of a strongly engaged mind. A person in active conversation would be in beta. A debater would be in high beta. A person making a speech, or a teacher, or a talk show host would all be in beta when they are engaged in their work. The next brainwave category in order of frequency is alpha. Where beta represented arousal, alpha represents non-arousal. Alpha brainwaves are slower, and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who has completed a task and sits down to rest is often in an alpha state. A person who takes time out to reflect or meditate is usually in an alpha state. A person who takes a break from a conference and walks in the garden is often in an alpha state. This is the state of the brain we study when we talk about telepathy. Research has shown that although one brainwave state may predominate at any given time, depending on the activity level of the individual, the remaining three brain states are present in the mix of brainwaves at all times. In other words, while somebody is an aroused state and exhibiting a beta brainwave pattern, there also exists in that person’s brain a component of alpha, theta and delta, even though these may be present only at the trace level.  Even though this electrical power is very limited, it does occur in very specific ways that are characteristic of the human brain. Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves. The living brain (of any animal) emits brain waves and ELF radiation (almost as does a radio transmitter or TV station).

Are biophotons responsible for ELF radiation from brain?  Read next paragraph.

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Can EEG be explained solely on the basis of synaptic plus axonal transfer of nerve impulses?

There is no doubt that EEG waves are deeply involved with the basic functioning of the brain but the origin and the exact function of EEG has remained a mystery. The EEG waves associated with two distant neurons are strongly correlated and this supports the view that EEG waves are related to the properties of the brain as a coherent quantum system. It is not possible for a scalp EEG to determine the activity within a single dendrite or neuron. Rather, a surface EEG reading is the summation of the synchronous activity of thousands of neurons that have similar spatial orientation, radial to the scalp. Synaptic transmission and axonal transfer of nerve impulses are too slow to organize coordinated activity in large areas of the central nervous system. Numerous observations confirm this view. The duration of a synaptic transmission is at least 0.5 ms, thus the transmission across thousands of synapses takes about hundreds or even thousands of milliseconds. The transmission speed of action potentials varies between 0.5 m/s and 120 m/s along an axon. More than 50% of the nerves fibers in the corpus callosum are without myelin, thus their speed is reduced to 0.5 m/s. How can these low velocities (i.e. classical signals) explain the fast processing in the nervous system?   Van Wijk et al (2008) performed an experiment using the technique of “Ultra-weak Photon Emission” (UPE) to investigate the correlations between the biophoton emission and the electrical activity of the brain. Significant correlations were demonstrated between the fluctuations in photon emission and fluctuations in the strength of alpha wave production. Some unpublished observations suggest that the state of the biophoton field of a person may be connected to the state of the brain as measured by the EEG (e.g., degree of synchronization and coherence) (Bischof 2005). Advanced states of deep relaxation or certain meditative states characterized by a high degree of coherence in the EEG measurements may well be accompanied by a high degree of coherence in the biophoton field.  It is not unreasonable to hypothesize that even the visual field is a property of the biophoton field itself (Bischof 2005). It is therefore more plausible to hypothesize role of biophotons in transfer of information in the brain and genesis of EEG. These electrical waves in brain are responsible for ELF radiation to the environment. Could these ELF radiation from one human brain is picked up by another human brain for ESP?  I don’t know.

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ELF waves and ESP: science or pseudo-science:

Dr Andrija Puharich in the 50′s/60′s, found that clairvoyant’s brainwaves became 8 Hz when their psychic powers were operative.As an Army doctor in the 1950s, he was deeply involved with the CIA’s notorious MKULTRA mind control project. He – together with the infamous Dr Sidney Gottlieb – experimented with a variety of techniques to change or induce actual thought processes, even to creating the impression of voices in the head. These techniques included the use of drugs, hypnosis and beaming radio signals directly into the subject’s brain. He saw an Indian Yogi in 1956 controlling his brainwaves, deliberately shifting his consciousness from one level to another. Puharich trained people with bio-feedback to do this consciously, making 8 Hz waves. A healer made 8 Hz waves pass into a patient, healing their heart trouble, her brain emitting 8 Hz. One person emitting a certain frequency can make another also resonate to the same frequency. Our brains are extremely vulnerable to any technology which sends out ELF waves, because they immediately start resonating to the outside signal by a kind of tuning-fork effect. Puharich experimented discovering that  

A) 7.83 Hz (earth’s pulse rate) made a person feel good, producing an altered-state.

 B) 10.80 Hz causes riotous behavior and

 C)  6.6 Hz causes depression. 

Puharich made ELF waves change RNA and DNA, breaking hydrogen bonds to make a person have a higher vibratory rate. He wanted to go beyond the psychic 8 Hz brainwave and attract psi phenomena. James Hurtak, who once worked for Puharich, also wrote in his book The Keys of Enoch that ultra-violet caused hydrogen bonds to break and this raised the vibratory rate.  Puharich presented the mental effects of ELF waves to military leaders, but they would not believe him. He gave this information to certain dignitaries of other Western nations. The US government burned down his home in New York to shut him up and he fled to Mexico.

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Biophoton images of animals:

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The figure below shows biophoton images of rat brain:


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Biophoton images of rat’s brain can be observed through the skull. Biophoton intensity is suppressed with occlusion of common carotid arteries that supply blood flow to brain tissue. Biophoton intensity correlates with EEG activity, suggesting the dependence of biophoton with energy metabolism of nerve cells. Oxidative stress induced under hyperoxia also leads to the increase of biophoton emission, indicating the relationship of biophoton with ROS production.

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Consciousness:

Discussion on mind reading would be incomplete if consciousness is not discussed. By consciousness I mean scientific theories of human consciousness and not spiritual or religious aspects of consciousness. Some philosophers are convinced that there are phenomena that science can never explain. One example of this is consciousness – a distinguishing feature of thinking, feeling creatures such as ourselves and other higher mammals. Much research into the nature of consciousness has been done by neuroscientists, psychologists and others. But despite all the new scientific findings, a number of recent philosophers claim that there is something intrinsically mysterious about the phenomena of consciousness that no amount of scientific investigation can eliminate. These philosophers argue that the scientific study of the brain can at most tell us which brain processes are correlated with which consciousness experiences and while scientific information is interesting and valuable it does not tell us why experience with a distinctive subjective feel (such as sadness) should result from the purely physical going on in the brain.  Most neuroscientists would sometimes accuse those philosophers who argue that consciousness must always elude scientific explanation of being dogmatic and having a lack of imagination and predict that in the not-too-distant future neuroscience will deliver a radically different type of brain science, with radically different explanatory techniques what will explain why our experiences feel the way they do. 

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The consciousness electromagnetic field theory:

The neurons in our brain transmit electrical signals along and between nerve fibres. It is always assumed that the electrons and neurotransmitters moving down these nerves are the movers and shakers of neuronal computation. However, all electrical circuits – and that’s basically all neurones are – generate an associated energy field, known as an electromagnetic field or EM field. This field contains precisely the same information as the circuitry that generated it. However, unlike neuronal information, which is localised in single or groups of neurons, the brain’s EM field will bind the neuronal information into a single integrated whole. This consciousness electromagnetic information field (CEMI) theory may sound far-fetched, but it rests on just three propositions.

1. The first is that the brain generates its own EM field, a fact that is well known and utilised in brain scanning techniques such as EEG.

2. The second is that the brain’s EM field is indeed the seat of consciousness. This is far harder to prove but there is plenty of evidence that is at least consistent with this hypothesis. EM fields are waves that tend to cancel out when the peaks and troughs from many unsynchronised waves combine. But if neurones fire together, then the peaks and troughs of their EM fields will reinforce each other to generate a large disturbance to the overall EM field. In recent years neuroscientists in many laboratories across the world have become interested in the phenomenon of neuronal synchrony. Experiments from Paris’ Laboratoire de Neurosciences demonstrated synchronous firing in distinct regions of the brain when a subject’s attention is aroused by a pattern that resembled a face. When the subject saw only lines then his neurones fired randomly but when the subject realised he was looking at a face, his neurones snapped into step to fire synchronously. In this, and in many similar experiments, neurone firing alone does not correlate with awareness – but the EM field disturbance generated by synchronous firing, does. The simplest explanation is that the brain’s EM field is conscious awareness – the CEMI field.

3. The last CEMI field proposition is that the brain’s (conscious) EM field can itself influence neuronal firing. Like the first proposition, this is easy to prove and is indeed inevitable. Radio sets and TV’s are designed to be sensitive to the electromagnetic fields of radio waves; but in fact all electrical phenomena are sensitive to the surrounding EM field. Neurones are fired by specific structures, known as voltage-gated ion channels that respond to the external EM field. Mostly they are gated in such a way that only massive changes to the brain’s EM field are likely to influence neurone firing. However, in a busy brain there will be many neurones teetering on the brink of firing and these undecided neurones may be exquisitely sensitive to the EM field. The CEMI field – our consciousness – will come into play when the brain is poised to make delicate decisions. That concept of information encoded as an electromagnetic field is actually a very familiar one. We routinely encode complex images and sounds in EM fields that we transmit to our TV and radio sets. Our brain is both the transmitter and the receiver of its own electromagnetic signals in a feedback loop that generates the conscious EM field as a kind of informational sink. This informational transfer, through the CEMI field, may provide distinct advantages over neuronal computing, in rapidly integrating and processing information distributed in different parts of the brain. It may also provide an additional level of computation that is wave-mechanical, rather than digital; one that drives our free will. This is the advantage that consciousness provides: the capacity to make decisions.

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Biophoton theory of Quantum Coherent Consciousness and Communication:

Extensive scientific investigation has found that a form of quantum coherence operates within living biological systems through what is known as biological excitations and biophoton emission. What this means is that metabolic energy is stored as a form of electromechanical and electromagnetic excitations. These coherent excitations are considered responsible for generating and maintaining long-range order via the transformation of energy and very weak electromagnetic signals. What this means is that each living cell is giving off, or resonating, a biophoton field of coherent energy. If each cell is emitting this field, then the whole living system is, in effect, a resonating field-a ubiquitous nonlocal field. And since biophotons are the entities through which the living system communicates, there is near-instantaneous intercommunication throughout. And this, claims Popp, is the basis for coherent biological organization — referred to as quantum coherence.  Quantum biology has shown that the body displays an incredible degree of quantum coherence, and that a quantum consciousness field exists throughout the human DNA and thus the human nervous system. Our biochemical structure is composed of a confluence of energies in complete entanglement and that operate as a nonlocal field within and outside the human body. Further DNA is a liquid-crystal, lattice-type structure that emits biophotons, which are light based. What this leads to is a new understanding that human DNA operates also as a quantum field. In other words, we can begin referring to DNA as quantum DNA. Therefore the 97 percent of human DNA that is not involved in protein building is active within a quantum state. It may well be that a future manifestation of quantum consciousness will come from part activation of the 97 percent quantum DNA that so far has baffled our scientists with its function. This quantum DNA activation may likely be related to the state of human consciousness and has remained dormant in response to human consciousness not being sufficiently prepared, or made ready, for its manifestation. This transcendental stage of consciousness that is depicted above as being a part of our natural evolutionary heritage is connected with the human brain and nervous system. We now know that we have a DNA quantum field activated within our bodies. Some biophysicists are already discussing whether quantum behavior may not be a common denominator for all living processes. As such a quantum informational field throughout the human body will determine the coherence of our light (biophoton) resonance as a vibratory rate. If human consciousness begins to shift its vibratory rate then there is every likelihood that DNA — as a quantum field — will likewise undergo a resonance shift, bringing into activation parts of its 97 percent hitherto “inactive” capacities. This may or may not be linked to the increase in electromagnetic frequencies now impacting our solar system from the galactic core. The knowledge that human DNA can be influenced and modulated by frequencies (sound, light, language, and thought) is likely to have been known to various spiritual traditions, mystics, and teachers over the ages. This is perhaps why a variety of exercises have existed that utilize thought focus (prayer), sounds (music, chanting, singing), light (both natural light and produced light, such as in stained glass), and language (specific recitations such as a mantra and zikr). DNA appears to function not only as a protein builder (the minority function) but also as a medium for the storage, receiving, and communication of information. There are examples of hypercommunication at work in Nature. For example, the organization of ant colonies appears to make use of this distributed form of communication. When a queen ant is separated from her colony, the worker ants continue to build and construct the colony as if following some form of blueprint. Yet if the queen ant is killed, then all work in the colony ceases, as if the blueprint had suddenly been taken offline. This suggests that the queen ant need not be in physical contact to continue to transmit the blueprint, yet upon her death the group consciousness ceases to operate within a hypercommunicative informational field. We can thus refer to these forms of hypercommunication as quantum-field consciousness, or simply as quantum consciousness (since quantum implies non-local field effect).  At-a-distance human phenomena such as remote healing, remote sensing, and telepathy may work along comparable lines. On a more basic level we could say that many of us experience this as the sense of intuition and moments of inspiration.

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Biophotons, Microtubules, and Consciousness theory:

Of special interest t is the research into biophotonic activity in neurons (especially microtubules) and what role it may play in the emergence of consciousness – this is a topic on which there already has been considerable speculation. In 2004, Grassa, Klimab, and Kasper (Medical Hypotheses; 62, 169–172) published an article entitled, Biophotons, microtubules and CNS, is our brain a“Holographic computer”?

 Here is the abstract:

Several experiments show that there is a cell to cell communication by light in different cell types. This article describes theoretical mechanisms and subcellular structures that could be involved in this phenomenon. Special consideration is given to the nervous system, since it would have excellent conditions for such mechanisms. Neurons are large colorless cells with wide arborisations, have an active metabolism generating photons, contain little pigment, and have a prominent cytoskeleton consisting of hollow microtubules. As brain and spinal cord are protected from environmental light by bone and connective tissue, the signal to noise ratio should be high for photons as signal. Fluorescent and absorbing substances should interfere with such a communication system. Of all biogenic amines nature has chosen the ones with the strongest fluorescence as neurotransmitters for mood reactions: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. If these mechanisms are of relevance our brain would have to be looked upon as a “holographic computer”.

Several years later (2010), Rahnama, et al (J Integrative Neuroscience, 10:1, 65-88), published Emission of Biophotons and Neural Activity of the Brain, for which,

 Here is the abstract:

In this paper we argue that, in addition to electrical and chemical signals propagating in the neurons of the brain, signal propagation takes place in the form of biophoton production. This statement is supported by recent experimental confirmation of photon guiding properties of a single neuron. We have investigated the interaction of mitochondrial biophotons with microtubules from a quantum mechanical point of view. Our theoretical analysis indicates that the interaction of biophotons and microtubules causes transitions/fluctuations of microtubules between coherent and incoherent states. A significant relationship between the fluctuation function of microtubules and alpha-EEG diagrams is elaborated on in this paper. We argue that the role of biophotons in the brain merits special attention.

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This 2005 article by A.U. De and Dhananjay Pal, published in NeuroQuantology, entitled Significance of thought-carrying particles (TCP) and thought-retaining particles (TRP) in quantum measurement as well as cognitive problem:

Here is the abstract:

The thought force a manifestation of universal consciousness, has been shown to be carried by thought-carrying particle in the inherent presence of thought retaining particle in a previous communication (Pal et al., 2004). The thought force (TF) is the origin of all the existing fields. While TCP is the origin of all the field particles (bosons), TRP is the origin of all the matter particles (fermions). TCP cannot exist without TRP and vice versa. Both TCP and TRP are interchangeable at supersymmetry having the same energy level. In ‘supersymmetry’, these TCP and TRP are inter-convertible to carry and retain a specific “thought” and also for its communication from one person to another. The human nervous system is evolved to provide an appropriate material structure to individualize consciousness, a characteristic of reality, pervading all manifestations. TCP and TRP are assumed here to be the ultimate constituents of matter as well as mind, an infinitesimal part of the universal mind (UM). These conceptual TCP/TRP can address many present day scientific enigmas some of which are detailed below.

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Based on the knowledge and research about biophotons, Prof. Dr. Traian D. Stanciulescu, of ‘Al. I. Cuza’ University & National Inventics Institute and National Romanian Association for Complementary Therapy, on Iasi, Romania, developed what he calls the Biological Lasers Theory (BLT), where it states, among other important concepts, the existence of a psycho-noetic coherent (laser-like) light, generated by both emotional and intellectual activities of human beings. In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Paul Constantinescu he also developed the Photonic Energy-Information Theory (PEIT), which states, in summary, that the electromagnetic radiation carries, with its magnetic dimension, a quantum of information (biton) and, with the electric component, a quantum of energy (ergon), both coexisting in coherence. In other words, light, an electromagnetic radiation, has its magnetic (informational) component and its electric (energetic) one, exhibiting a double dimension, besides the classical duality of wave/particle.

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In a nutshell I may say that there are plenty of theories of human consciousness employing scientific, quasi-scientific and pseudo-scientific methods.

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Science myths vis-à-vis biophotons & communication:

What are science myths? They are a common phenomenon in the science-psychic world. Science myths arise when an experiment is done with a methodology or equipment that seems ’scientific’ but the result, when analyzed is very tenuous. But, because the result is something that fits with the results of another researcher, it gets quoted in a book or another paper. Only the result gets propagated, not the methodology or the maths by which it was derived. So something tenuous becomes seen as a fact and, to the non-scientific world, it is even more certain because it is circulating in the scientific literature. A very common way of judging whether a result is significant or not is to calculate the probability that it could have come about by chance. If this probability is very low then the result is, by convention, accepted as significant.  By convention, if a result is less than 5% likely to have occurred by chance then it is judged significant – the paper is published – it is referred to by other papers and is on its way to becoming a fact – or a science myth. But there are thousands of experiments being done each year. This means that it is very likely that in some of those experiments, a chance result happens that is less than 5% likely to occur. That is why repeating an experiment is so vital to the scientific process. Some key experiments in physics have been repeated dozens of times, maybe with slight variations. The more times an experiment is repeated, the less likely it is that the result could have come about by chance. But if such a chance result supports the predilections of other researchers, they often are much more interested in being able to support their hypotheses by quoting it than in going to the trouble of testing it. So a myth is born. An example is the research of the group around Fritz-Albert Popp. The detection of biophotons which he initiated is not controversial and has been repeated independently many times but many of the experiments, on which his theories of connection between biophoton emission and acupuncture effects are based, are unrepeated outside his close group. Double Blind Experiment, where neither the researcher nor the subject knows which is which, ensures the removal of hidden influence of unconscious bias. Such double blind experiments were not done by Popp & associates.

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If you are measuring the correlation of a signal (such as brain waves or heart beat) to external stimuli you have to be very careful. This is because they are auto-correlated. Auto-correlation means that the signal repeats (roughly) over time. A striking paper was published by E. C. May, S. J. P. Spottiswoode, and L. V. Faith showing that with things like brainwaves and heartbeats it is very easy to get a false positive result. This means that the data seems to show that the brainwaves change when something happens at a distance but actually there is no meaningful correlation. If you use the correct mathematics then no significant connection is found. Several papers that have been used to support ESP, biomagnetic field effects, non-local information transfer make this mistake. They use the normal statistical tests to show that their results are significant but those tests are not valid with signals like brainwaves that are highly auto-correlated. When the correct mathematics is used then their results often disappear completely. But in the mean time, the papers have been quoted, referenced and entered the literature of ’science fact’ when they are in fact science myth.

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Up to the present day, communication of one part of the organism with another has been assumed to be either chemical (through hormones and other active substances propagating through the blood stream) or via the nervous system. Several scientists say they have shown that there is at least a third channel of communication, through the liquid crystalline structure that makes up connective tissue, cell walls and the intercellular matrix. In particular, the writing of James Oschman promotes this as a possible explanation of the mechanism of energy medicine. He points out that liquid crystals generate electric current when touched and also are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. Therefore, pressure or an external electromagnetic field will generate currents in the matrix. Oschman asserts that these currents can carry information through the organism. The body produces electromagnetic fields (called ‘biomagnetic fields’ for some reason). This is obvious, but is often proclaimed as a revolution. The heart and nervous system contain moving electric charges. Ever since the 19th Century we have known that moving electric charges generate an electromagnetic field. It is asserted that these electromagnetic fields affect the liquid crystal matrix in the body. The body also produces so called ‘biophotons’, particles of light. This is not so obvious, but it has been known for a long time that living organisms emit very low intensity light. Calling them biophotons makes a bit more sense than with biomagnetic fields. Biomagnetic fields are produced in just the same way that other electromagnetic fields are, by moving charges. The original of biophotons is more controversial. Most scientists believe that biophotons are produced by chemical processes, like bioluminescence but weaker. Fritz-Albert Popp and his research group disagree, and argue that they are produced by a coherent quantum field and that the light is highly ordered, like a laser. Emelio del Guidice showed many years ago that water, in the presence of an electromagnetic field, could produce coherent light – so this is seen as a possible mechanism for biophotons – we are made of water and our bodies generate an electromagnetic field, so coherent light could be generated. So far everything looks logical. Fritz Popp has shown that the frequency distribution of the biophotons is not what you would expect if they were produced through a chaotic thermal process and that the distribution can be explained by assuming the photons are highly ordered, like laser light. So the existence of electromagnetic fields and biophotons is not controversial and would be accepted by most scientists. The new paradigm is that the interaction of the biomagnetic field and the biophotons are used by the body for communication and therefore they could be the mechanism underlying energy medicine. Now the controversies begin.

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See the figure below showing Popp’s photo of biophotons emitted from the human body.


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If the mechanism for biophoton emission is del Giudice’s water in the presence of electromagnetic fields, then one would expect the heart (which generates a field and contains lots of water) might emit more biophotons than the surroundings but it is not so. You will understand how even trained scientists can make mistakes in reasoning, can draw unjustified conclusions and can be taken in by bad science because they do not read the actual papers critically. It’s much easier just to read someone else’s digest of the results. Biophotons are very weak light given off by living organisms. Their existence is not in question. Most scientists believe they are given off by normal chemical processes in cells. Fritz Popp disagrees and has conducted experiments which indicate that they are given off by an electromagnetic field which is specially ordered. His conclusion is not proved but only likely. But he uses ‘evidence’ of biophotons communicating between different parts of the body to conclude that this organized field is actually an organizing field for the whole body. That he has not proved scientifically but his empirical evidence is giving support to many alternative medicines like acupuncture. So biophotons have become area where science and pseudo-science meets.

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Future research on mind reading:

What if it were possible to connect your brain to the Internet, either wirelessly or through a cable, download digital information at high speed, and then translate it automatically into a chemical form that could be stored by your brain cells as memory? If you could pump data directly into your gray matter at, say, 50 mbps — the top speed offered by one major U.S. internet service provider — you’d be able to read a 500-page book in just under two-tenths of a second.

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What if all of us could read each other’s mind:

As already discussed, all humans have a gap between thoughts and actions. That gap exists due to conscience, power of reasoning and fear of societal norms/laws. Whatever we think, we do not necessarily implement/act accordingly. One example is sufficient. I see a very attractive woman walking across the road. Attracted by her, the first thought that comes in mind is to have relationship with her. But, I do not act on that thought because my conscience tell me that she may be married and so I restrain myself and get on with life. However, if you do neuroimaging of my brain at that time, it will show areas of love making activated and you will label me as a debaucherous man. The brain scan did not see the conscience and you jumped to conclusion based on scientific evidence. If all human being could see thoughts of each other, we would all jump to conclusion that the other person has evil intent. Then we would fight to death. If everybody could read each other’s mind, the world would end fast. Remember, no technology is superior to human conscience and humans can never create a technology that surpasses human reasoning. We can perform experiments on rats and monkeys because in the evolutionary ladder, we are at the highest level intellectually; and this species-gap between us and other animals is responsible for our ability to analyze animal brain. If there is another species in the universe that is far superior to humans then the species-gap between them and humans would be as great as between humans and other animals. Such a species can devise technology to read conscience and reasoning. Arbitrarily we humans have given name to such a species as God, so all religions harp on conscience.   

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The moral of the story:

1. Mind reading is defined as a uniquely human ability to infer others’ thoughts, intentions and feelings without using usual channel of communication like talking or reading text.

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2. While people’s words tell you only what they consciously want you to know, their body language tells you a whole range of other things, much of which they may not know they’re revealing, or even be conscious of it. What you say non-verbally is often much more influential than what you say verbally, not only because it bypasses the conscious mind of a listener and speaks directly to his or her subconscious, but also because people quite rightly trust non-verbal messages more than they trust words. Nonetheless it’s possible to fake body language albeit rarely and partially.  

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3. For millions of years, our early ancestors communicated effectively with each other their needs, observations, and desires non-verbally using body language; so much of this still remains with us as part of our DNA and ancient circuitry within our brains that we still primarily communicate non-verbally and not verbally.

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4. Mind reading is the basis of socialization in childhood. The ability to infer the internal state of another person to adapt one’s own behavior is a cornerstone of all human social interactions. Autistic children who have specific mind-blindness become socially isolated and live in their own world. 

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5. Cognitive science asserts that mind reading since childhood is the basis of generation of empathy. It is this higher order ability limited to humans that help us develop empathy for others. Remember, psychologists call mind reading as empathic accuracy. The problem is that we are not always accurate.   

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6. Studies have shown that accuracy of mind reading is 20 % among strangers and 35% among couples and close friends.

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7. The most important reason for poor accuracy of mind reading is the difference in construal level between oneself and another person i.e. one sees oneself under microscope while sees another person as big picture. If you want to understand how others see you, put away the fine-grained details and take a “big picture” look at yourself.  Likewise, if you want to understand how others see themselves, shelve the generalities that you would use and start focusing in on the finer points that they pay attention to. 

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8. Research studies have proved that closeness does not automatically equal comprehension. Even in the simplest predictions of one another’s behavior, couples are usually wrong. Mind reading is the no.1 cause of divorce. There is only one route to a truly happy relationship and that is through open communication and not mind reading of a partner.  

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9. Inaccurate mind reading resulting in acquiring false assumptions creates havoc in marriages, schools, families and workplaces.

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10. A popular belief — and an incorrect one — is that women are better than men at mind reading. Studies have shown that the difference isn’t in ability but in motivation. Women don’t have more empathic ability; they just try harder.

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11. If you want protection from psychological mind readers, then wear dark sunglasses. Your eyes communicate more than your speech.

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12. People’s desire to believe in the paranormal (ESP) is stronger than all the evidence that it does not exist.  

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13. Mind reading technology can create society divide as rich & powerful are likely to have more access both to mind-reading and mind-protecting technologies.  

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14. Certainly the advances made in mind reading technology are overhyped. It is unlikely that Neuroimaging & EEG headset methods will ever be able to perform the sort of mind reading predicted by scare stories in the media. What the mind reading research does allow is a greater understanding of how the brain works, which in turn provides insight into how the brain achieves the myriad feats it performs so frequently with apparent ease.

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15. Using scientific technology, Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) does augment the ability to perform various tasks. Brain-Net is a Brain-Brain Interface which could provide solutions that individual brains cannot achieve by themselves. 

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16. Advances in scientific mind reading technology can lead to better brain-activated wheelchairs, computers and prosthetic limbs. Mind reading technology can be useful in entertainment, education, medicine, psychiatry, military, aviation and criminal justice system. Mind reading technology also provides a vital line of communication to patients who are otherwise completely unable to control any voluntary movement. 

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17. Brain Hacking is possible using mind reading technology resulting in the theft of personal confidential data including bank PIN numbers by viruses implanted by tech-savvy thieves.

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18. The gap between thought and action allows space for human conscience and reasoning which cannot be determined by using mind reading technology. If all human beings could read thoughts of each other through mind reading technology, we would all jump to conclusion that the other person has evil intent and then we would fight with each other.  

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19. Humans can never develop mind reading technology that can understand human conscience and reasoning. Only a species that is far higher than human on evolutionary ladder can do it. Such species does not exist on earth.

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20. From DNA consciousness to human consciousness, from biophotons to knowledge that human DNA can be influenced and modulated by frequencies (sound, light, language, and thought); we are caught in the myriad of science, quasi-science and pseudo-science. Biophotons have become area where science and pseudo-science meets. It would not be wrong to assume that emission of biophotons in brain is somewhat responsible for generation of electrical waves (EEG) in the brain and these electrical waves generate extreme low frequency (ELF) radiation from brain just like radio waves transmission. There are many theories of human consciousness and out of them, most attractive is, the coherence and synchronicity of brain biophotons causing human consciousness. We do not know whether ELF radiation from brain can ever cause ESP…

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

April 1, 2013

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Postscript:

I sincerely felt poverty of human intelligence while writing on mind reading. We need a species far higher on evolutionary ladder than human to do mind reading of humans.

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