Brain Scans Can Read Your Mind
Using fMRI scans, researches have come up with algorithms that predict the brain activity of people when they think about different nouns. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529141354.htm) fMRI scans measure the blood flow to different parts of the brain, so they display what neural activation patterns are produced by these different nouns.
To quote the scientist: “We are fundamentally perceivers and actors,” he said. “So the brain represents the meaning of a concrete noun in areas of the brain associated with how people sense it or manipulate it. The meaning of an apple, for instance, is represented in brain areas responsible for tasting, for smelling, for chewing. An apple is what you do with it.
This research, then, sheds light on brain function and also ways to think about language. The word “apple” means a red or green sweet fruit with a core that grows on trees, but it also means a certain neural activation pattern. This makes us rethink meaning. If If two words that are in the dictionary as synonyms produce different neural activation patterns, are they really synonyms? Isn’t the meaning of words really about what it makes people think of when they hear them?
“This suggests a theory of meaning based on brain function,” [the scientist] added.
more research here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/320/5880/1191