Japanese Scientists Can Read Your Mind

They find a way to extract images directly from the brain

By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 12, 2008 12:02 PM CST

(Newser) – The Thought Police could eventually exist in reality, if they can just figure out how to harness new technology developed by Japanese researchers, the Daily Yomuri reports. The team managed to re-create images that people were looking at—using only subjects' recorded brain activity. This is the first successful display of messages directly from the human brain.

The scientists recorded the patterns of neurons coming from the retina, which processes visual signals. By showing subjects test patterns of gradually increasing complexity, the team was able to map which neurons correspond to each part of the visual field. When subjects saw the word "neuron," the computers showed a fuzzy image of the same word.

Japanese scientists looked at the recordings from an fMRI scan of subjects' brains while they were looking at specific images, and re-created what the people were seeing.
Japanese scientists looked at the recordings from an fMRI scan of subjects' brains while they were looking at specific images, and re-created what the people were seeing.   (Flickr)
This image from the Milano-Bicocca University in Milan shows the electrical response evoked in a subject's brain while looking at words. Similar images were used in Japan to re-create seen words.
This image from the Milano-Bicocca University in Milan shows the electrical response evoked in a subject's brain while looking at words. Similar images were used in Japan to re-create seen words.   (AP Photo)
The stimuli used in the test phase of the experiment, and the results returned by the system.
The stimuli used in the test phase of the experiment, and the results returned by the system.   (Slippery Brick)
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