Researchers Accidentally Learn How to Read Monkeys’ Minds
While studying a completely different aspect of brain activity, they found they could correlate certain brain activity with the intention to act in specific ways.
The researchers came to find out that by analyzing the activity of large populations of neurons, they could discover what actions the monkeys were planning before they made a single motor movement. By monitoring neural activity, the researchers could essentially see what the monkey was thinking about doing next.
This discovery occurred largely because the two monkeys involved in the experiment had already demonstrated very different cognitive styles. One is a bit hyperactive, eager to begin and complete each task even before being given the signal to begin. The other is more methodical, waiting for the entire breadth of the task to be revealed before making a motion.
…the two monkeys showed completely different strategies for reaching the target—strategies that the researchers could see unfolding in the neural activities of their brains beforehand.