Neuroscience has learned much about your brain's activity and its link to certain thoughts. It appears it may now be possible, at least at a basic level, to read someone else’s mind. As you are likely aware I am a fan of technology, especially as to how it applies to health. There is no question that neuroscience is going to continue to take advantage of Moore’s Law and utilize the exponentially increasing computing power to provide remarkable innovations.
While the technology covered by 60 Minutes is still very basic, I wasn’t aware that the field had already developed as much as it had. Additionally, there are more complex programs already underway.
The U.S. Army recently awarded a five-year, $4-million contract to a coalition of scientists from the University of California at Irvine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland to develop “thought helmets.”
The helmets would ultimately be used to capture soldiers’ brainwaves and then translate them into radio waves that could be heard by other troops. The idea is to have a silent form of communication that could be used among soldiers on the battlefield, and TIME magazine reported that the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone."
Delving even deeper into the fairly new world of neuroscience reveals a far more disturbing new trend: neuromarketing.
Should Marketers Have Access to Your Brain?
Marketing agencies have already sprung up all over the world that offer corporations something that was unheard of just a few decades ago: a glimpse into consumers’ minds. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other techniques marketers are trying to figure out why consumers choose to buy certain products, and what area of the brain is involved when they do.
They claim to be able to help companies develop brands and marketing materials that will appeal to people’s deeper emotions, bypassing your brain’s “filters” that normally censor what you see and hear -- and help you decide what is important and worthy of your time and attention.
Experts are predicting that neuromarketing will soon be a part of just about every corporation’s marketing plans. And although companies have already tried novel approaches to get your business -- such as controlling your mind through your sense of smell -- something about delving into your brain seems even more obtrusive and eerie.
The good news is that neuromarketing is still in its very beginning stages, and technology is still a long way off from being able to sway your decisions, or even understand all of their complexities.
At least for now, your private thoughts are still your own.