Mind reading is for amateurs.
Suddenly rendered hokum, flim-flam and lot of educated guesswork after a remarkable breakthrough by a team scientists.
If you really want to know what someone's thinking, researchers at Japan's National Institute of Genetics have forever raised the bar with this video.
The glowing orange light at the bottom is an actual thought, in transit across the brain of a zebrafish. It's the first ever real-time video of a thought being processed, and it is stunning.
Zebrafish are completely transparent, which makes them an excellent candidate for this kind of project. According to Smithsonian, scientists inserted a gene into a zebrafish larvae and then "using a probe that detects florescence, they were able to capture the fish’s mental reaction to a swimming paramecium in real time."
Paramecia are food for the zebrafish, so what we're watching above is the fish being hungry and contemplating having a snack.
When the food moves to the left, we see the activity on the right side of the fish's brain and vice-versa. That's because the brain sees things in reverse of the eyes.
"The key to the technology is a special gene known as GCaMP that reacts to the presence of calcium ions by increasing in florescence. Since neuron activity in the brain involves rapid increases in concentrations of calcium ions, insertion of the gene causes the particular areas in a zebrafish’s brain that are activated to glow brightly. By using a probe sensitive to florescence, the scientists were able to monitor the locations of the fish’s brain that were activated ay any given moment—and thus, capture the fish’s thought as it 'swam' around the brain."
And thus, blew my mind.
But beyond merely creating a fascinating piece of video, researchers say there's great potential to the technique they devised, including tracking the impact of a new drug in development or better understanding an animal's thoughts and emotions during a particular activity.
Yes, that's right. That dancing dot inside the zebrafish's brain may be the first step toward knowing if your dog actually enjoys it when you continue throwing that tennis ball he dutifully keeps bringing back to you. And, perhaps more important applications, too.
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