Little by little, it seems, we're discovering clues about the mystery that is the brain.
Thanks to Carnegie Mellon University and advances in brain-imaging technology, scientists have recorded for the first time the development of a new concept inside the brain, reports Wired. And they can tell what the idea is about, too.
For the study, researchers taught 16 participants diet and dwelling information about extinct animals. They then tracked the growth of the neural representations of the new concepts in their brains.
When each participant learned something new, similar areas of the brain lit up for everyone. Each new concept made its own "signature" imprint on the brain, however, which made it possible for a computer to determine which of the animals a participant was thinking about at a given time.
In other words, brain imaging technology can, to an extent, read our minds.
Interestingly, once a fact had been learned, its signature remained intact even after new ones were introduced, which gives us some more information on neural durability.
The scientists hope this technology can be used to understand the "loss" of knowledge in brain disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Image via Carnegie Mellon University