Volunteers watched three films of everyday types of activity, and then were asked to recall one of them while in an fMRI
machine. A computer learning algorithm was trained to recognize the fMRI data produced, and was able to discern which of the three films the subjects were recalling.
This is fairly astounding, in and of itself. Over-reaching media-speak on the subject notwithstanding, we can now, very literally, read minds. It should be cautioned though that this is sharply abstracted, and only possible at a very
rudimentary level for the time being.
The study also observed that the brain-area producing the most easily describable activity patterns, when recalling episodic information, was the hippocampus
. This moves us further away from the historic, simplistic, view of the hippocampus as merely a place where long-term declarative memories are maintained. Emerging (for some time now, actually) from studies like this one, is a much more nuanced understanding of a detailed interplay between both existing memory of events and activities, and the mechanisms involved in the extraction and acquisition of new or more pronounced memories from the current situation.