Be very careful what you think about Shania Twain. Not only is she a national hero in her homeland of Canada, she’s popular in America too, with the bestselling country album of all time to her name. Now, new technology developed by scientists in Toronto enables Canadians to detect how you feel about their favourite singer – without you even saying a word.
A team of researchers from the University of Toronto has developed a brain-scanning headset that can detect a person’s preferences, with an accuracy of 80%. The headset is fitted with fibre-optic cables that emit infrared light at around the same frequency as a typical TV remote control.
This harmless radiation is beamed into the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with decision-making. Here it is scattered by blood vessels, and the reflections are picked up by sensors on the headband. By measuring the amount of oxygen in the blood, researchers can decode brain activity and determine whether a person prefers Twain’s country pop to, say, the crooning of Céline Dion.