Did anyone else see this article? I came across it on msnbc.com – “Scientists Try to Predict Intentions: using brain scans to read minds before thoughts turn into actions” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17464320/)
I haven’t read anything Dr. Haynes has published in peer-reviewed journals on the topic (I’ll see what I can find) but this seems like another case of popular media grossly over-estimating (or mis-estimating?) the significance of the research. Take this excerpt:
But scientists are making enough progress to make ethicists nervous, since the research has already progressed from identifying the regions of the brain where certain thoughts occur to identifying the very content of those thoughts.
Although I think my favorite part is the opening paragraph, where the author writes:
At a laboratory in Germany, volunteers slide into a doughnut-shaped MRI machine and perform simple tasks, such as deciding whether to add or subtract two numbers, or choosing which of two buttons to press.
They have no inkling that scientists in the next room are trying to read their minds — using a brain scan to figure out their intention before it is turned into action.
Um…I think the first “inkling” that something is amiss is when these evil scientists ask you to step inside their big shiny machine. Perhaps I’m overly-critical. I still think articles like this are amusing, but it makes me cringe when I think that this is the public’s view of MR research. Any other opinions?