#57

A Mood Ring for Your Mind

Brain activity patterns allow scientists to identify specific emotions. 

Emotions can be as clear-cut as a bolt of rage or as hard to pin down as Jane Austen’s “half agony, half hope.” People often struggle to name their emotions, are torn by conflicting feelings, or conceal their true state of mind, leaving scientists stumped for ways to measure emotion in the lab. 

But in June, Carnegie Mellon University researchers reported they had identified, for the first time, unique brain activity patterns for nine specific emotions and could correctly guess which one a person was feeling — essentially reading the mind.

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