Scientists have used brain scans to delve into people’s minds and predict what films they are thinking about from one moment to the next.
This is the first time brain imaging has been used to decipher such complex thoughts, which take place in the base of the brain in a region known as the medial temporal lobe.
The work follows an earlier study in which neuroscientists at University College London showed they could read a person’s thoughts about where they were standing in a virtual reality simulation.
“In the previous experiment we were able to predict where someone was in a simple, stark virtual reality environment. What we wanted to know is can we look at ‘episodic’ memories that are much more naturalistic,” said Eleanor Maguire, who led the study at the university’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. “The kinds of memories we form day-to-day are far more complex – they involve people and buildings and all kinds of actions.”