Researchers are developing “mind-reading” technology that can translate a person’s brainwaves into photographic images.
In an article published in Nature, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands revealed the results from an experiment where they showed photos of faces to two volunteers inside a powerful brain-reading functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.
An fMRI scanner, a noninvasive technology for brain imaging that measures brain activity through changes in blood flow, is published by researchers at Radboud University.
The fMRI scanner scanned the brain activity in areas responsible for vision as volunteers looked at images of faces.
The researchers fed the data into an artificial intelligence algorithm that could create an image using the data from the fMRI scan.
As the results of the experiment show, the fMRI/AI system was able to almost identically reconstruct the original images that the volunteers were shown.
AI researcher and a cognitive neuroscientist, Thirza Dado, who led the study, believes that these highly impressive results demonstrate the potential for fMRI/AI systems to effectively read minds in future, according to the Mail Online.
“I believe we can train the algorithm not only to picture accurately a face you’re looking at, but also any face you imagine vividly, such as your mother’s,” explains Dado.
“It would be interesting to decode this technology and create subjective experiences, maybe even your dreams,” Dado states. “Such technological knowledge could also be incorporated into clinical applications such as communicating with patients who are locked within deep comas.”
Dado’s work is focused on using the technology to help restore vision in people who, through disease or accident, have become blind, reports the Mail Online.
” “We’re already working on brain implant cameras to stimulate the brains of people so that they can see again,” Dado said.
To “train” the AI system, the volunteers had previously been shown a series of other faces while their brains were being scanned.
According to the experiment, the key is that the photographic pictures they saw were not of real people, but essentially a paint-by-numbers picture created by a computer where each tiny dot of light or darkness is given a unique computer program code.
The fMRI scan was able to detect how the volunteers’ neurons responded to these “training” images. The artificial intelligence system then translated each volunteer’s neuron reaction back into computer code to recreate the photographic portrait.
In the test, neither the volunteers nor the AI system had ever seen the faces that were decoded and recreated so accurately.
Image credits: All photos by Thirza Dado/Radboud University/Nature Scientific Reports.