We can remember it for you wholesale

The ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Japan aren't particularly well known outside their field. However, research they carried out at the close of 2008 suggests that may change soon. In the closing stages of last year, the ATR team developed a prototype of a device that could record visual images of human thoughts.

In other words, a dream recorder.

Before you start worrying about having that dream where you turn up naked to work, or the one with the guy with the cheese ( eh? - Ed ), being automatically recorded to your DVD player for your viewing displeasure, the technology still has a ways to go.

The team's first move was to "tune" the device by showing test subjects 400 images and measuring their cerebral responses. Then they carried out their first, successful test. The letters of the word "neuron" were shown to their test subjects and a blurry but definitive image of those letters was then reconstructed by the device.

In essence it's actually a relatively simple piece of technology, examining the electrical signals sent to the visual cortex and then converting them into graphics on a computer screen. In practice, if perfected, it has the potential to act as a dream and thought recorder, a device that could look directly into our subconscious and see what we really think. The implications for everything from advertising to psychological therapy and law enforcement are staggering and this device, potentially, opens the door to one of the big science fiction ideas of the last century being made manifest in this one.

So make sure you're thinking happy thoughts, just in case...

This article contributed by Alasdair Stuart, of Hub magazine ( www.hub-mag.co.uk ). Thanks to AFP news hosted on Google .