Is it possible to read someone's mind?

maxwell mmmaxwell at hotmail.com
Fri Jun 8 01:02:20 EST 2001

John H <john at faraway> wrote in message news:3b205098_1 at news01.one.net.au...
> Is it possible to read someone's mind? This implies that 'mind' is
> constructed via linguistics(bad pun). I don't think so, those chimps can be
> rather bright and if the Gallup test is to be trusted then various chimps
> (bonobos, chimps, gorillas - in that order I think) demonstrate 'selves'
> whatever those may be.

How, apart from language, whether linguistic, iconic, affective... do we go about
expressing that there *is* such thing as "mind?"
Does the constraint of language-as-necessary remove the possibility of
any existential statement of what "mind" consists of?
> Hey, didn't Benjamin Libet read someone's mind, even if with only a fraction
> of a second to spare?

Sorry-- don't recall the allusion if you mean this WRT "mind."
If you're referring to the 'readiness potentials,' of his subjects,
we need not even presume they were conscious (though they were)
at the time of trials, for such waves to be seen. Thus, Libet's speculations as to what
he was observing would fail an argument of inclusivity of consciousness as necessary
for "mind."
> The air force stuff is interesting, there is also another project underway
> to allow disable peopled to turn switches on and off via transition in broad
> eeg pattern I think (gamma to alpha don't ask me complete ignoramus with eeg
> and most neuro stuff).

Details, or rather the non-knowledge of alpha/gamma etc. waves make no ignoramus.
Absence of demonstrable recognition of logic, as in the fool I flamed-- yes.
Your mention of quadriplegics interfacing via volitional EEG modulation shows
consideration of actual work, rather than retreat to fictional worlds, and is antithetical to
ignorance. However, this is much akin to the Libet work, no ?

By the way-- EEG interface is not so new:

Wolpaw, Jonathan R., McFarland Dennis J., Neat Gregory W. & Forneris C.A.:(1991); 
 "An EEG-based Brain-Computer Interface for Cursor Control"  
~~Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 78 (3), p. 252-259.

Wolpaw, et al, had people steer a cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about it-- brain waves associated with particular thoughts (such as up , down , left or right ) were registered by sensors and interpreted by neural network software, which passed its interpretation on to the computer.
> The above examples are not of reading a mind but of reading specific
> components of thinking. 

Whoops-- I should have read all of your post, first. ;~)

>It would be interesting to know if by tracking subliminal motor innervation of the vocal tracts if one could read another mind; recently a colleague of mine claimed he had heard of research where
> this was evident in people who hear voices. This is also true when learning
> reading, tiny little motor traces in the vocal jazz, though I think this declines with experience.

John Watson, IIRC, held that subvocalizations formed part of the reinforcement loop
by way of which language could be explained in behaviorist terms. He was wrong.
What subvocalization might be had in a tribesman whose jungle had no
checkerboard patterns, upon seeing one?
He could well associate checkerboard with other contiguously present phenomena, of course,
but the absence of language decriptors-- does this presume the absence of mind? 

> In any event, my understanding is that eeg does not necessarily read the
> mind, I think there is still considerable debate as to what eeg is
> measuring. 

EEG measures rather broad field potentials, that derive mainly from that dendritic
field activity array within given brain volume that shows waveform coherence above
'self-cancelling' noise--- inexact, and strictly a function of electromagnetic fields.
Sure, there is coherent co-temporality with actual thought, but still a big leap,
as you've noted above.

Help me here I'm drowning! Get those theta waves behind me, or at
> least away from my prefrontals ...
> John H.

HeeHee ! Don't keep the thetas from your hippocampus-- long-term potentiation
has been shown there to be a function of theta-wave patterned activation.

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