Brains scans cannot read your mind

Document Type: 
ASSC Conference Item
Article Type: 
Theoretical
Disciplines: 
Philosophy
Topics: 
Theory of Consciousness
Deposited by: 
Dr. Vikas Shah
Date of Issue: 
2007
Authors: 
Vikas Shah, Igor Aristegi Urkia
Event Dates: 
23-25 Jun 2007
Event Location: 
Las Vegas, NV
Event Title: 
11th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Event Type: 
Other
Presentation Type: 
Poster
Refereed: 
Yes
Number of Pages: 
1
Abstract: 
There have been several reports demonstrating the capability to read the mental state of a subject using fMRI. Here we argue that these abilities will never reach the ultimate point of a priori mind-reading capability. The development of the brain into an organ capable of consciousness requires genetic specification of neuronal function, epigenetic specification of wiring, and history-dependent modification of connection patterns and wiring: learning. This path-dependent, non-state function process ensures that the firing patterns correlated with a particular mental content will be highly variable even across similar brains. This severely limits the ability to a priori read the details of a mental state from brain information. Because of this history-dependent process, it is clear that information about activation patterns severely underdetermines the information required to read the mental state; a particular activation pattern is meaningless outside of its neural context.
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