Brain Scans Can Access Your Memories

Illustration for article titled Brain Scans Can Access Your Memories

This week, we're looking at the ever-increasing digitization of memory, and indeed, today's technologies can even access memories stored on the most closely-guarded of hard drives: our brains. In a recent study, MRIs accurately predicted what individuals were remembering.

Researchers at University College London conducted the tests, in which individuals were repeatedly shown three different video clips, forcing them to form distinct new memories of each. Then, they were attached to MRI machines and asked to remember the scenes as vividly as they could. Their brain activity was recorded as they remembered each successive clip.

Illustration for article titled Brain Scans Can Access Your Memories

The scans showed that the recollection of each scene resulted in a distinct pattern of neural activity, and when the participants were told to remember any one of the clips, researchers could accurately determine which it was by comparing the MRI scans to their initial readings.

Each act of remembering resulted in similar scans for all ten participants, suggesting that the ways our brains handle different memories might not vary as much from person to person as you'd think. That just makes it all the easier for the Thought Police to know when you're reminiscing of the good old days before the New World Order. [Neurophilosophy via io9]

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.


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This stuff was in tonight's episode of House M.D.