It sounds like the stuff of pure science-fiction, but it’s not: Japanese scientists have demonstrated a system that can display actual images of what you’re thinking about on a screen.
ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have designed their system to sample electrical signals from retina to the brain’s visual cortex–when you see an item this is the pathway used to transmit the data to your brain. The team’s work thus far has involved simple trained imagery (400 still images), sampling the brain’s activity and reconstructing what the subject’s eyes are seeing.
It’s apparently the very first time this has been done, but it has far-reaching implications. The team argues that eventually when enough understanding has been built up to enable a system like this to decode the brain activity associated with more diverse imagery then it should be able to simply display what’s on your mind. And that would include dreaming.
It’s easy to argue that dreams are best left unprobed, but the fields of psychology, psychiatry and even technology like lie-detectors would undoubtedly find this technology incredibly useful.