Possibilities and limits of mind-reading: A neurophilosophical perspective

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (3):887-897 (2013)
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Abstract

Access to other minds once presupposed other individuals’ expressions and narrations. Today, several methods have been developed which can measure brain states relevant for assessments of mental states without 1st person overt external behavior or speech. Functional magnetic resonance imaging and trace conditioning are used clinically to identify patterns of activity in the brain that suggest the presence of consciousness in people suffering from severe consciousness disorders and methods to communicate cerebrally with patients who are motorically unable to communicate. The techniques are also used non-clinically to access subjective awareness in adults and infants. In this article we inspect technical and theoretical limits on brain–machine interface access to other minds. We argue that these techniques hold promises of important medical breakthroughs, open up new vistas of communication, and of understanding the infant mind. Yet they also give rise to ethical concerns, notably misuse as a consequence of hypes and misinterpretations

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