Promises and pitfalls

Thomas Nichols

Wednesday, January 18 2017 at 7:30PM

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Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,

Thomas Nichols

What's the talk about?

Can we peer into the human brain, and see what a person is thinking?

Modern techniques using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can in fact show incredible detail of the brain's anatomy and, with some less detail, how hard each part of the brain is working at any instant. I will sketch how these techniques work and how functional MRI (fMRI) can be used to track brain activity. I will discuss some of the many limitations of fMRI, and how results from fMRI studies are often misinterpreted. While there are many reasons to be sceptical of fMRI findings, including challenges around control of false alalms when seaching the brain for changes, I will also talk about a few successes that have been obtained in "brain reading" that show, in some very limited cases, yes, you can tell what's going on in there.