"If you image my brain, and you say, 'Ah-ha! Paul craves chocolate chip cookies,' and I say, 'No, I don't,' now are you going to believe the brain over me? You can only do that if you have proven that that part of the brain lighting up means in all cases that that person desires chocolate chip cookies. And what a lot of people are doing is they're just imaging the brain, and then they're declaring what that means, and they're never proving that it actually translates into behavior," Wolpe said.
"You know it's very interesting. When you show someone a brain scan, people just believe it. It just reeks of credibility," Stahl commented.
"Absolutely. Absolutely," John Dylan-Haynes agreed.
"And you telling me, 'That's the area where people add and subtract,' I thought, 'Well, of course. He knows,'" Stahl said.
"But I could have told you anything," he pointed out.
So as brain imaging continues to advance and find its way into the courts, the market, and who knows what other aspects of our lives, one message is: be cautious. Another is to get ready. Back at Carnegie Mellon, Just and Mitchell have already uncovered the signatures in our brains for kindness, hypocrisy, and love.
"It's breathtaking," Stahl said. "And kind of eerie."
"Well, you know, I think the reason people have that reaction is because it reveals the essence of what it means to be a person. All of those kinds of things that define us as human beings are brain patterns," Just replied.
"We don't wanna know that… it all boils down to, I don't know, molecules and things like that," Stahl said.
"But we are, you know, we are biological creatures. You know, our limbs we accept are, you know, muscles and bone. And our brain is a biological thinking machine," he replied.
"Do you think one day, who knows how far into the future, there'll be a machine that'll be able to read very complex thought like 'I hate so-and-so'? Or you know, 'I love the ballet because…'?" Stahl asked.
"Definitely. Definitely," Just said. "And not in 20 years. I think in three, five years."
"In three years?" Stahl asked.
"Well, five," Just replied with a smile.
Produced by Shari Finkelstein