Scientists said Monday they have found a way to use brain scans and artificial intelligence modeling to transcribe "the gist" of what people are thinking, in what was described as a step toward mind reading.

While the main goal of the language decoder is to help people who have lost the ability to communicate, the U.S. scientists acknowledged that the technology raised questions about "mental privacy."

Aiming to assuage such fears, they ran tests showing that their decoder could not be used on anyone who had not allowed it to be trained on their brain activity over long hours inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.