How do we recognize different visual images? Researchers at the University of Leicester in England are one step closer to solving that riddle.
During recent experiments on patients suffering from epilepsy, neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga has discovered that, unlike earlier theories that networks of brain cells store and process image recognition, one or a few cells are responsible for storing memories of people and locations. Electrodes placed within the brain showed specific responses of certain cells when individuals were shown photographs of celebrities and famous landmarks.
Even when actors such as Halle Berry were hidden under costumes and makeup, the same cells reacted. In effect, this could mean that memory problems are the result of damage to only a few cells instead of entire networks.
Quiroga is hopeful that this new development could pave the way for research in different arenas, from schizophrenia and Alzheimer's to prosthetic limbs operated solely by brainwaves. He will be lecturing on his findings next week.
Does this mean that mindreading might be a pausible scientific reality? Possibly. But let's hope technology doesn't get too carried away...