Video Scenes Pulled from Peoples’ Thoughts

Pulling an image out of a person's brain is a feat that is hard to believe, but Dr. Jack Gallant of the UCB psychology department seems to have gone this accomplishment one better. In a recent experiment, Dr. Gallant claims to have made it possible to reproduce video images from human brain activity. Would you post your thoughts on Youtube?

Although this research has not yet been peer reviewed, Dr. Gallant and his colleague Shinji Nishimoto have used fMRI to scan the brains of two patients as they watched videos. According to the Times Online:

"A computer program was used to search for links between the configuration of shapes, colors and movements in the videos, and patterns of activity in the patients’ visual cortex.

"It was later fed more than 200 days’ worth of YouTube internet clips and asked to predict which areas of the brain the clips would stimulate if people were watching them.

"Finally, the software was used to monitor the two patients’ brains as they watched a new film and to reproduce what they were seeing based on their neural activity alone.

"Remarkably, the computer program was able to display continuous footage of the films they were watching — albeit with blurred images."

For example, in one scene which featured Steve Martin wearing a white shirt, the software recreated his shape and torso but missed other details, like his facial features.

“Some scenes decode better than others,” said Gallant. “We can decode talking heads really well. But a camera panning quickly across a scene confuses the algorithm.

This appears to be the first instance in which video scenes were recovered; previous work has been done to recover spatial memories seen in the hippocampus via fMRI.

This capability has been presaged in science fiction. Fans may recall the movie The Final Cut, starring Robin Williams and Mira Sorvino. In the film, a special implant makes it possible to record the internal images that a person sees and remembers. Robin Williams is a "cutter" who provides edited versions of a person's internal images - a "rememory".

Also, fans of the sci-fi series Farscape may recall the Aurora Chair; employed throughout the Peacekeeper military. It peels back the layers of the mind one by one, until all thoughts and memories are exposed and displayed on a screen attached to the chair (see video).

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com)