The Horror Zine
The Oddities in the News Page

This Month's Oddity in the News:

A Computer that Can Read Minds

(and talk to you about your thoughts)


Birdseed Spell Gone Wrong
Conjoined Twins
Two-Faced Cat Makes Record
History of Halloween
The Real Magic Mountain
CDC Zombie Apocalypse

Brain Activity

How a computer can make a brain talk

Extreme Tech, February 1, 2012--Neuroscientists from the University of California, Berkeley have successfully decoded brain activity into audible sounds. In a study that included 15 subjects, the researchers could understand the decoded words 80 to 90% of the time. This is effectively mind reading.

To listen in on the brain’s activity, the researchers placed up to 256 electrodes on the temporal lobe, the home of auditory processing in the brain. Words were then read out to the subjects, and the resultant electrical activity from the temporal lobe was recorded. The brain breaks down sounds into frequency bands (blocks of 10 hertz, say), and specific parts of the temporal lobe (cortical sites) are then tasked with processing that sound. By recording which of these cortical sites are active when words are heard, the scientists could then reconstruct the sounds using computer software. If you want to see this in action, Berkeley has published a short MOV video that you can download.

Scientists use brain imaging to reveal the movies in our mind

BERKELEY, February 1, 2012 — Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published online today (Sept. 22) in the journal Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases.

See the entire article HERE


See a video about how the brain works HERE

The brain is the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior. Lying in its bony shell and washed by protective fluid, the brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity. The brain is the crown jewel of the human body.

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been fascinated by the brain, but until recently they viewed the brain as nearly incomprehensible. Now, however, the brain is beginning to relinquish its secrets.

Your brain contains billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation. A complicated highway system of nerves connects your brain to the rest of your body, so communication can occur in split seconds. Think about how fast you pull your hand back from a hot stove. While all the parts of your brain work together, each part is responsible for a specific function — controlling everything from your heart rate to your mood.

See a slide show from the Mayo Clinic HERE


Surfing the internet can improve brain function HERE

Playing violent video games can change brain function HERE