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Surprising Science

Brain Scans That Read Your Thoughts

Mind reading may now be a reality. U.C.L.A. psychologists recently used fMRIs to study whether or not these brain scans could predict how persuasion changes people’s behavior. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The ability to read someone’s mind is a concept which has long fascinated and frightened many. In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, U.C.L.A. researchers sought to study how persuasive messages influence human behavior. “What the researchers found was that the brain scans were actually better predictors than the study subjects’ own intentions of how they would actually behave, in this case, on whether they would use sunscreen after viewing an educational video.”

What’s the Big Idea?

While we rely on introspection to analyze our own behavior, what are the limits of our ability to know ourselves? “Although persuasive messages often alter people’s self-reported attitudes and intentions to perform behaviors, these self-reports do not necessarily predict behavior change,” says the U.C.L.A. study. By examining how persuasive messages work, more effective public health campaigns could be created to motivate positive behavior. Findings could also be attractive to advertisers who want to figure out the best way to motivate you to buy their products.


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