Scientists Say Brain Scans Show Who You Are Thinking About

| by Michael Allen
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Cornell University scientists claim that they can tell who a person is thinking about by scanning the human brain with imaging technologies.

According to, Cornell University cognitive neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues wanted to see if they could figure out the mental pictures. via brain scans.

“We are trying to understand the physical mechanisms that allow us to have an inner world, and a part of that is how we represent other people in our mind,” Spreng said.

The researchers scanned volunteers’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity via changes in blood flow.

During the scans, the scientists asked people to predict how four fictitious people might behave in a variety of scenarios.

“Humans are social creatures, and the social world is a complex place,” Spreng said. “A key aspect to navigating the social world is how we represent others.”

The scientists discovered that each of the four fictitious people were linked to unique patterns of brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. The researchers claimed they could tell which of the four fictitious people their test subjects were thinking about.

“This is the first study to show that we can decode what people are imagining,” Spreng added.
“The scope of this is incredible when you think of all the people you meet over the course of your life and are able to remember. Each one probably has its own unique representation in the brain.“

"This representation can be modified as we share experiences and learn more about each other, and plays into how we imagine future events with others unfolding.”