Thanks for your interesting query.
One of the key elements to being capable of retrieving information
stored in the human brain is understanding how the brain actually
works, or mapping how the brain works.
IBM announced recently that they will be working with one of the
leading human intelligence researchers in the world to map how the
brain works. Results of this research will lead to breakthroughs in
medicine and technology.
"Once mapped, the supercomputer will be able to run simulations that
attempt to unlock secrets of how thought processes work at the
molecular level. Henry Markram, who will oversee the research, said it
will involve manipulating "hundreds of thousands of parameters" and
said that leveraging the power of the supercomputer could help the
research advance dramatically."
John J. Ratey, M.D, author of the book 'A User's Guide to the Brain:
Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain' commented
on how the brain's nerve cells involved with storing our memories act:
"We know the chemistry involved in this process and are beginning to
dissect the mechanics of how intensity neurotransmitters cause the
nerve cells involved with holding memory to become altered, readied
and strengthened. Every time a part of the emotional state connected
with that memory is stimulated, the memory returns along with the
intense emotional response. For example, in PTSD (post traumatic
stress disorder) a loud sound may trigger the memory of being shelled
in Viet Nam in a traumatized soldier which, as it is replayed, makes
the whole experience more vivid and ultimately readies it to be
recalled again and again. The same response occurs with joyful or
What technology do we have to externally 'look' into the brain?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology
(http://www.answers.com/topic/magnetic-resonance-imaging-1) uses a
powerful magnetic field and maps out images of the brain and it's
Advances in the area of reading thoughts or Mind-reading using this
MRI technology have been reported in the media:
"fMRI is a giant cylindrical magnet, similar to the MRI machines
doctors use to diagnose tumors, but with the added ability to show
changes in brain activity as they happen?hence the "f," which stands
for "functional...The fMRI machine enables researchers in the emerging
field of neuroeconomics to investigate the interplay of fear, anger,
greed and altruism"
Primitive ?mind-reading? devices make progress:
"Without little fanfare, mind reading has left the pages of
science-fiction fantasy and begun tapping on reality?s door.
In new experiments, researchers say they have built devices that
decode, from brain scans, simple aspects of mental states.
The machines tell whether people are visualizing one or another of a
set of patterns they have viewed, the scientists say. In some cases
the devices know better what has passed through a person?s mind than
he or she does, according to researchers?offering a possible glimpse
into the unconscious...they employed a brain scanning technology
called functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging..."
MRI is still a far step in being accurately able to read actual or
"real" thoughts and transcribe them into text or convert them into
images or even video or audio. But it is certainly a step in the right
Until science comes up with the technology to actually do this - we
can always fall back onto areas involving extra-sensory perception
(ESP), an area not regarded by scientists as an area for serious
"Illusionist Derren Brown survived a televised game of Russian
Roulette, avoiding a bullet after claiming to have read the thoughts
of the person who loaded the gun. There are now claims the whole thing
was a hoax... but is there any scientific basis for mind-reading?"
"So you think mind reading is science fiction? Not entirely. Progress
is being made very quietly. Watching?"
Finally, despite the rumours, NASA's high ranking official, Robert
Pearce, stated that "Nasa does not have the capability to read minds,
nor are we suggesting that would be done..."