Mind-reading hat could keep you from being an idiot


They say if you knew what people were thinking about you at all times that you’d sink into a deep depression and eventually probably take your own life. I don’t know who exactly says that or the exact terminology, so you can just quote me for the time being. At any rate, this mind-reading hat that I’m about to tell you about only reads your mind, not other people’s minds — so it’s relatively safe.

And it doesn’t really read your mind, according to the hilariously titled “Mind-Reading Hat Could Prevent Brain Farts” article. It instead detects abnormalities in your brain’s behavior that’s consistent with mental mistakes. Such activity can begin up to thirty minutes before you do something stupid like forgetting why you walked into a certain room or why you got out of bed this morning when you don’t have a job.

Subjects’ brains were scanned while they carried out mundane tasks involving pushing flashing buttons and the following was found by researchers,

Unexpectedly, before volunteers made errors, their brains started displaying abnormal behavior … up to a half-minute beforehand.

“We thought initially that it would be quite remarkable if we were to find abnormal activity six or so seconds ahead,” said researcher Tom Eichele, a neuroscientist at the University of Bergen in Norway. “That the entire process spans across a much longer timescale was quite astonishing and spooked us, such that we checked this finding over and over again.”

One set of brain regions that is normally active only when a person is awake and relaxed began firing up — in other words, it’s as if the brain started resting. At the same time, another group of brain regions that is usually lively when a person is sustaining effort on a task began toning down. After people made and detected any mistakes, the abnormal behavior went away.

The international team of researchers suspects this abnormal behavior is the result of the brain attempting to save effort on a task. When the brain goes too far, errors occur.

So the basic idea is to develop a hat-like apparatus that detects these abnormalities and prevents your brain from slacking off. Nothing’s currently in the works but researchers have admitted that there’s a potential that “brain-scanning caps under development for video games and other applications” might be able to detect this type of brain activity. Eichele and his fellow researchers are planning to take their research further, perhaps into virtual reality applications.