London, Nov. 2: Scientists have discovered how to read the minds eye using a computer that can replicate what humans are seeing or recalling by monitoring their brain activity.
The breakthrough, by a team at the University of California, raises the prospect of scientists eventually being able to record dreams or enable police to identify criminals by recalling the memories of a witness.
The development is similar to that envisaged in the film Minority Report, starring actor Tom Cruise, in which an individuals private thoughts can be readily accessed by the authorities.
Neurologists at the university have already matched patterns of activity in the brain with static images seen by the person, and now say it is possible to decode signals generated in the brain by moving scenes.
Their work, which has yet to be peer reviewed, could lead to technology that would allow security agencies to interrogate prisoners.
The experiment used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to scan the brains of two patients as they watched videos, linking patterns of activity in the visual cortex of their brains with movement and colours in the footage.
The information was used to programme software to be able to display a blurry minds eye version of the footage of the films the patients were watching.
Scientists at University College London have conducted separate tests that detect, with an accuracy of about 50 per cent, memories recalled by patients.
The discoveries come amid a flurry of developments in the field of brain science.
Researchers have also used scanning technology to measure academic ability, detect early signs of Alzheimers and other degenerative conditions, and even predict the decision a person is about to make before they are conscious of making it.
In Britain, fMRI scanning technology has been sold to multinational companies enabling them to see how consumers subconsciously react to brands.