Yale scientists recently demonstrated that MRI technology can be used to determine what mental image a test subject is concentrating on. Apparently such tests had already shown that a brain scan can show whether the person is thinking of, say, a building or an animal. But the new tests allow much more precise results, establishing that something as specific as the mental image of an individual face can actually be reconstructed by means of an MRI scan.
According to Yale News:
Alan S. Cowen, then a Yale junior now pursing an advanced degree at the University of California at Berkeley, wanted to know whether it would be possible to reconstruct a human face from patterns of brain activity ...
Cowen and post doctoral researcher Brice Kuhl, now an assistant professor at New York University, showed six subjects 300 different “training” faces while undergoing fMRI scans. They used the data to create a sort of statistical library of how those brains responded to individual faces. They then showed the six subjects new sets of faces while they were undergoing scans. Taking that fMRI data alone, researchers used their statistical library to reconstruct the faces their subjects were viewing.
The images reconstructed by a computer on the basis of the fMRI data were blurry but identifiable.
Jim Beichler, however, does see direct relevance. Jim is the author of To Die For:The Physical Reality of Conscious Survival, one of the most interesting books I've read about a possible theoretical model for life after death.
On Facebook, Jim offered his thoughts, which he's given me permission to reproduce. First he wrote:
A lab at U. Berkeley did the same thing about two or three years ago, only they did it with movies. However, it is still very exciting and the results are getting better. As I've said all along - Neurophysiologists and neurophysicists will 'prove' (detect) the existence of the paranormal decades before the parapsychologists can do so.
I asked Jim to clarify how this kind of research applies to psi. He answered:
Magnetic variation patterns at the quantum level (thoughts and memories) in the subject's brain are being read outside of the brain by a machine, or rather, the patterns are influencing the machine's electronic circuits (computer) without any intervening material contact (such as electrodes in the brain or on the skull) between the brain and machine. If scientists can do this, and obviously they have, then the brain and magnetic patterns can just as well influence (by the same magnetic field connection) another brain, i.e. change the flow of electrons and ions in another brain to arouse similar thoughts and memories at a distant external location. This type of transfer of information is commonly called telepathy and its existence is denied by the present scientific establishment. These particular experiments do not really prove anything and they do not even rise to the level of mental telepathy, but they do demonstrate the feasibility and plausibility of telepathy. They also demonstrate that telepathy can be explained within the context of our present modern paradigms of physics. In other words, they represent a fantastic start toward the final acceptance of telepathy and other paranormal phenomena by the scientific community which will lead to further research.
I hadn't thought of it that way. Viewed from this perspective, the MRI results are certainly tantalizing. Who knows where this kind of research may lead?