Decoding mental states from brain activity in humans

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Jul;7(7):523-34. doi: 10.1038/nrn1931.


Recent advances in human neuroimaging have shown that it is possible to accurately decode a person's conscious experience based only on non-invasive measurements of their brain activity. Such 'brain reading' has mostly been studied in the domain of visual perception, where it helps reveal the way in which individual experiences are encoded in the human brain. The same approach can also be extended to other types of mental state, such as covert attitudes and lie detection. Such applications raise important ethical issues concerning the privacy of personal thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Consciousness / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Visual Perception / physiology