Predicting future actions from human brain activity

July 4, 2011

(Credit: stock image)

In yet another Minority Report scenario, researchers at The University of Western Ontario from The Centre for Brain and Mind can now determine the action a person was planning — moments before that action is actually executed.

Human subjects had their brain activity scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they performed one of three hand movements: grasping the top of an object, grasping the bottom of the object, or simply reaching out and touching the object.

“Being able to predict a human’s desired movements using brain signals takes us one step closer to using those signals to control prosthetic limbs in movement-impaired patient populations, like those who suffer from spinal cord injuries or locked-in syndrome,” said Jason Gallivan.

Ref.: J. C. Culham, Decoding Action Intentions from Preparatory Brain Activity in Human Parieto-Frontal Networks, Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31 (26): 9599 [DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0080-11.2011]