Skip to content

    Brain & Nervous System Health Center

    Font Size

    Mind Reading Not Just Science Fiction?

    Study Uses MRI Brain Scans to Trace Spatial Memories in Video Game Players
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    March 13, 2009 -- Researchers report success in a first attempt at mind reading -- at least, in hindsight.

    In a new study, four healthy young men in England played a video game that challenged them to move their on-screen character from one spot to another as quickly as possible. While they played, they got functional MRI brain scans that focused on a brain area called the hippocampus.

    Afterward, the scientists used a computer program that they had written to analyze the brain scans. They found patterns of brain cell activity in the hippocampus that revealed where the players had moved their on-screen characters.

    "In other words, we could 'read' their spatial memories," professor Eleanor Maguire, PhD, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London says in a news release.

    That's a long way from being able to decipher complicated thoughts in real time. But "with this study, we are approaching the realm of mind reading," Maguire says.

    Maguire also says that learning more about how the brain handles memories may help with research on Alzheimer's disease.

    The study appears online in Current Biology.

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    senior woman with lost expression
    Know the early warning signs.
    woman in art gallery
    Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
    medical marijuana plant
    What is it used for?
    woman embracing dog
    boy hits soccer ball with head
    red and white swirl
    marijuana plant
    brain illustration stroke
    nerve damage
    Alzheimers Overview
    Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix