Review of “I Know What You’re Thinking: Brain Imaging and Mental Privacy”

Reviewed by: Jenna Furman

Since the 1980s, MRI scanners have been used in medicine to help diagnose various conditions, many of which are found in the brain. The use of such scanners has led to advances in understanding the human mind, both its structure and functions. Such advances have led to greater knowledge of neurological diseases and conditions. This subset of the MRI’s imagining technology is typically referred to as “neuroimaging.” However, recently many academics and doctors have questioned whether MRI technology could be used to one day “read the minds” of those studied. The use of MRI technology in this way raises not only legal issues regarding the right to privacy of the participant but also ethical issues, such as whether it would be appropriate to use this advanced technology to detect cognitive awareness of a person in a vegetative state. This book compiles essays from psychiatrists, neuroscientists, ethicists, anthropologists, philosophizers, and lawyers which address the legal and ethical issues, along with the scientific benefits and social concerns, raised by the possible future use of MRI-imaging technology to “read minds” of patients. This book review will outline certain arguments addressed in these various essays which provide insight into these legal and ethical issues regarding the use of neuroimaging to “read minds.”

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