Scientists Inch Closer to Dream-Readers and Thought-Controlled Computers

September 26, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Scientists are inching closer to deciphering what you see, by reading the neural patterns of your brain. And although decades away, the groundbreaking research could someday lead to the development of dream-readers and thought-controlled computers.

The research was conducted by Jack Gallant, a University of California, Berkeley neuroscientist and Thomas Naselaris, a Berkeley Postdoctoral researcher. The mind-reading team had success in an earlier study where they used neural patterns to identify pictures from within a limited set of options.

Their latest mind-reading study used fMRI technology, which measures blood flow through the brain, to measure neural activity. While subjects viewed pictures of everyday settings and objects, the researchers mapped out the resulting neural patterns and built a computer model of algorithms.

The researchers looked at parts of the brain linked to the shape of objects, as they did in the previous study and they also investigated regions that produce general classifications, such as “buildings” or “small groups of people.”

Once the computer algorithms were fine-tuned, the researchers showed the study participants another set of pictures, while their neural patterns were mapped once again with the fMRI machine. The neural patterns were then run through the computer model, which matched corresponding pictures to the brain waves, from a database of 6 million images.

The researchers described the process, as more reconstruction than pure identification. Gallant compared the mind-reading experiment to “the magician’s card trick where you pick a card from a deck, and he guesses which card you picked. The magician knows all the cards you could have seen.”

The researchers envision future applications of the mind-reading algorithms to someday interpret optical laser scans or EEG readings, and even translate internal thoughts into speech.

Source


Comments

One Response to “Scientists Inch Closer to Dream-Readers and Thought-Controlled Computers”

  1. Marcia Dream on October 14th, 2009 1:04 pm

    What are the legal implications of this?

    What if the “pictures” created as a result of the scan are pictures of the “thinker” performing an illegal activity?

    Could this be construed as proof that the thinker is thinking about participating in, or has already performed, that acitivy?

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