Machines that can read people's minds are getting closer to reality
Scientists have revealed they can now use brain scans to read letters participants are viewing.
In a study published July 22 in the journal NeuroImage, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record the activity of the visual cortex, the brain region that processes visual information, while study participants were viewing a series of handwritten characters: B, R, A, I, N and S.
By feeding parts of this data into mathematical models over and over again, the researchers were able to "teach" the machine which pattern of activity corresponded with which letter a person was viewing. The trained model was then tested on the rest of the data — that is, it had to reconstruct the letters from the activity of the brain. Here are the results:
Model’s performance remained good even when it had to reconstruct a letter that it hadn’t seen before. The reconstructions were better if the model was trained on the new letter class.
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Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.