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Princeton neuroscientists map your brain, play words with subjects

Joseph Volpe, @jrvolpe
September 3, 2011
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Don't speak. Princeton researchers know just what you're saying -- kind of. Alright, so the Ivy league team of neuroscientists, led by Prof. Matthew Botvinick, can't yet read your minds without the help of a functional MRI, but one day the group hopes to take your silent pauses and broadcast them for public consumption. By mapping highlighted areas of brain activity to words meditated upon by subjects, the group was able to create "semantic threads" based on "emotions, plans or socially oriented thoughts" associated with select neural activity. So, what good'll these high-brow word association experiments do for us? For one, it could pave the way for automatic translation machines, extending a silicon-assisted grok into our nonverbal inner worlds that churns out computer-generated chatter; giving a voice to those incapable of speech. And if it's used for bad? More terrifically horrific psychobabble poetry penned by Jewel's unencumbered mind. Actually, wait. We might be into that.

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