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Biotech Technology

Japanese Scientists Claim To Reconstruct Images From Brain Data 276

conner_bw writes "In a world first, a research group in Kyoto Japan has succeeded in processing and displaying optically received images directly from the human brain. Here's the Japanese press release for good measure. One step closer to broadcasting your dreams? The research is due to be published today in the US scientific journal Neuron."
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Japanese Scientists Claim To Reconstruct Images From Brain Data

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  • Predictably (Score:5, Funny)

    by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:05PM (#26078855) Homepage
    It was a male subject and the image was Hentai.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by philspear ( 1142299 )

      You mean "The subject was an underpaid, overworked grad student/postdoc, and the image was 'NEURON' in a blatant example of pandering to a specific high-impact journal to increase the likelyhood of acceptance."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by linhares ( 1241614 )
      Funny comment, but just bad science on the paper. The brain's signals are, in all probability, address space decoders, and the very idea that one could see images in anything higher than V1 is as loony as thinking that the moon is a large cheese. These kinds of imbecile attempts to fame will continue, but decades before we can read the porn in your brain we will be able to build some (very) intelligent shit.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:06PM (#26078861) Homepage Journal

    The group of researchers at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, including Yukiyasu Kamitani and Yoichi Miyawaki, from its NeuroInformatics Department, said about 100 million images can be read, adding that dreams as well as mental images are likely to be visualized in the future in the same manner.

    And once again Isaac Asimov predicted this [].

    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:19PM (#26079121) Homepage Journal

      No he did not.
      He wrote a story about something like this. People ahve thought about doing this for years.
      There is a difference in predicting something, and writing a story.

      He also wrote about a bunch of stuff that never happens, and won't likely happen.
      I like the mans work, but come on if he gets put any higher on a pedestal he'll be able to touch the moon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Maybe that's how we'll get a space elevator?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        I'm still waiting for Sally []; that story was set in the year 2120. I'm still waiting for R. Daneel as well.

        As to writing about stuff that never happened, THIS never happened - until now. The "hyperdrive" (what Roddenberry renamed "warp drive") was never invented - yet. Roddenberry and his writers were prescient, too. I remember a world without cell phones, flat screen talking computers, self-opening doors, and space shuttles (I remember a world without space travel at all).

        I merely mention Asimov because I t

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Not functionally different from the ancient concept of "the gods told me in a dream". Insert tech, remove gods, what do you have? :)

        • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:16PM (#26080149)

          As to writing about stuff that never happened, THIS never happened - until now. The "hyperdrive" (what Roddenberry renamed "warp drive") was never invented - yet. Roddenberry and his writers were prescient, too. I remember a world without cell phones, flat screen talking computers, self-opening doors, and space shuttles (I remember a world without space travel at all).

          Wow. Your UID should have a minus sign in front of it.

        • The one thing I can think of that his crystal balls got wrong was Multivac, yet with its "terminals in every home and business" it was the closest of any pre-internet science fiction story I ever read to predicting the internet.

          Check out Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" from 1946. I think that was a lot closer. Computers, not terminals (he called them "Logics") in every home, all networked together.

          He was really off with the concept that the Internet would be a public utility that restricted what sorts of questions you were permitted to ask - but the UK and Australia are going that way, China's already there. And who knows what the next administration will do?

          I believe I recall that there weren't central servers; it was

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2008 @05:27PM (#26081545) Homepage Journal

            I looked it up on wikipedia [] and found that A Logic Named Joe [] is posted on the internet, with a link from wikipedia.

            The tank is a big buildin' full of all the facts in creation an' all the recorded telecasts that ever was made--an' it's hooked in with all the other tanks all over the country--an' everything you wanna know or see or hear, you punch for it an' you get it. Very convenient. Also it does math for you, an' keeps books, an' acts as consultin' chemist, physicist, astronomer, an' tea-leaf reader, with a "Advice to the Lovelorn" thrown in. The only thing it won't do is tell you exactly what your wife meant when she said, "Oh, you think so, do you?" in that peculiar kinda voice. Logics don't work good on women. Only on things that make sense.

            It appears that Leinster beat Asimov to the punch; it's possible, being a science fiction fan before he was a science fiction writer, that Asimov even read "Joe". Wikipedia puts "Joe" at 1946, but Multivac in 1955 [].

    • by Itninja ( 937614 )
      Aren't there rumors that Tesla had designed some kind of 'thought projector'? I couldn't find any reference to it, but I swear I read about that somewhere. I think the idea was based on the principle that one cannot think of something without seeing it in their mind. So he designed something like a scanner that would read electrical impulses from the back of the eye....or something.
    • by Goaway ( 82658 )

      He predicted that people will overplay their discoveries and promise far more than they can deliver?

      This thing is not going to be reading any dreams any time soon.

  • Quick.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by skgrey ( 1412883 )
    Quick, everyone picture Scarlett Johansson naked.. ..I need some new pictures for my collection
  • by Ifandbut ( 1328775 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:07PM (#26078895)

    I have lots of cool images in my head for comics and wallpaper, however I lack the artistic talent to bring those images from my mind to paper/photoshop. Maybe soon I will be able to compensate for my lack of artistic ability.

    • by fastest fascist ( 1086001 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:28PM (#26079279)
      Maybe, although I personally find, as someone who has spent a considerable amount of time developing technical skill at drawing and painting, that the process of learning to draw has also considerably altered my aesthetic sensibilities. Drawing is ultimately not that much about knowing how to move your hand just right. In fact, it seems to me it is largely about forgetting about the hand, and concentrating on the form of what you are drawing instead... In any case, I doubt a direct mind-to-picture system would in itself be enough to make anyone an artist. Maybe to reproduce what a person sees in front of them, but to be able to make a picture without exact reference, you're still going to need to know very precisely what you want each detail to look like. I think even with this kind of tech there'd still be a pretty intense learning process involved.
      • I think a direct mind-picture system would constitute a new artistic medium, with it's own advantages and drawbacks. There would still be a learning curve, and traditional drawing/painting skills would no doubt assist the artist. You might also combine the forms to touchup the captured mental images using more traditional methods.

        Alternatively one might use it in the manner of a camera. Things would get most interesting when we learn to directly pipe these experiences into another person's mind...

      • It would be a different medium of art, most likely. William Gibson did a short story about something like this in Burning Chrome called The Winter Market
      • by lahvak ( 69490 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @07:58PM (#26084031) Homepage Journal

        I have a memory from my childhood that I can almost recall at will, at almost any time. When I was 6, my father took me on a week long canoeing trip. I remember standing on a road, looking through some trees down to the river onto some cool rapids which we were about to go down. I can see in my mind what seems to be a perfect picture: the side of the road, the wooded slope covered with dry leaves, trees, and the river. It seems that I could just sit down a draw the scene from my memory. The funny thing is, every time I try to focus on some detail, for example when try to identify the trees, or look at a number on a mile-post next to the road, or something like that, the whole picture completely disappears, and I have hard time recalling it again. The details are simply not there at all.

        Now if I were to draw the scene, I would undoubtedly substitute some sort of simplified shapes, or maybe just a pattern of shades of green, for the leaves. But you could look at the details of the drawing and see how it was done. You probably would be unable to identify the trees by their leaves, the drawing would not contain that much details, but you would be able to see the way the image is rendered on paper. I cannot do that with the mental image. I believe that in my mind I am able to render the overall image without actually rendering the details at all, not even as some sort of impressionist jumble of colors and shades. If that's the case, transferring this image onto paper would require filling in all the details in some way, which, IMHO, is exactly the hard part of drawing or painting.

    • I think code must faster than I can type. Soon I will be able to just wear a sensor filled helmet and think code and this machine would convert it to an emacs macro and fill in the source. Yay!
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Likewise it would be nifty (and probably scary at times) to be able to record my dreams and view them later, just like I would any other movie.

      Aside from the obvious YouTube flooding (since most will be kark), I foresee a market for such things, and the potential to make a living from "lucid dreaming".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      From the first line of TFA :

      a research group in Kyoto Prefecture has succeeded in processing and displaying optically received images directly from the human brain.

      Images you acquire optically follow a very different path from dreams or "mind pictures". The former aren't really detailled pictures, they are visual concepts that cannot be cast into a bitmap without interpretation. If we were to talk about the last dream you have made of a human, I could convince you that their hairs were of one or either color using suggestion techniques.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:08PM (#26078901) Homepage Journal

    The visual cortex is one of the more understood areas of the brain, and decoding V1/V2 is low-hanging fruit. To the extent that memory and dreams back-project to these areas, perhaps recording parts of these experiences would be possible.

    Making this practical and inexpensive would be quite a practical breakthrough though - imagine being able to imagine something and import it into GIMP from a headband. Doing this through MRI would be impractical unless someone would be able to keep the image stable in their head for long enough for a high resolution scan of the area (and bear the ~$700/hour cost of MRI).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oroborous ( 800136 )
      That's true, but advances in Optical Imaging might overcome the current imaging limitations. But sci-fi aside, at least getting the decoding algorithms perfected will answer a ton of basic science questions about network dynamics in primary sensory and motor areas.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        The visual cortex is fairly well understood from electrical, fMRI and optical studies in animals. A PI with an office about ten feet from mine did some work in mapping the visual cortex with fMRI and one of my favourite slides to show is a basis function from a particular transform side-by-side with the spatial sensitivity pattern measured from a neuron in a cat.

        There might be some interesting results if they can manage to look at imagination and dreams, but those are tougher subjects.

    • by Futile Rhetoric ( 1105323 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:17PM (#26079077)

      Can we "keep images in our heads" at all? When I try to, it is more of a feeling than an image, and it's a fragmentary one at that. Wouldn't it make sense if our imagination worked a lot like our vision, i.e. we can only focus on small bits of the visual field at once, and so would only be able to imagine those pieces and attributes of an image pertinent to our needs or wants?

      I'm free-balling here, mind. I can't seem to put coherent, complete images in my head, but others very well might.

      • by fastest fascist ( 1086001 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:33PM (#26079369)
        I'd mod you up if I could. It doesn't seem to me that when I imagine something in my head, there is actually a picture being made somewhere in my brain. It's an impression, a sense of shapes, something very fluid and ephemeral. I can, in a way, turn around three-dimensional objects "in my head", but the experience is far from looking at a video of an object turning. A simple dumb read of that kind of thing would probably be very difficult, although a person could perhaps train themselves to solidify their ideas into image form via a neural interface, much as they can ordinarily do with pen and paper, for example.
        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          Y'all are doing pretty well. I'd imagine that if they could project what's going on in my brain onto a CRT, it would be indistinguishable from tuning between channels and watching snow.

          An artist I am not.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Everyone's brain is different. Some people are more oriented to vision, some to abstract concepts, others to sounds, etc. I'm visually oriented, but somewhat lacking in abstract thinking.

        When I read a well written novel I'm THERE. I see, visually, what the writer describes. No doubt you're much better at math than I am.

      • by tobiah ( 308208 )

        It's possible that the image is there, even though you are not consciously aware of it. The nature of consciousness is still poorly understood, but a great deal of what we can be conscious of usually occurs subconsciously.
        What is known is that conscious awareness generally occurs after the event, and is "post-dated" by the memory system. I saw a study on runners that showed that they reacted to a starting gun several hundred milliseconds before they were aware the gun had fired, but rememb

    • And imagine spending the next week try to figure out GIMP to be able to do anything with it~

    • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:35PM (#26079413)

      [i]The visual cortex is one of the more understood areas of the brain, and decoding V1/V2 is low-hanging fruit.[/i]

      Low-hanging fruit? I agree, it's fairly well understood, but given the pre-processing that happens in the retinal ganglion cells, and the kind of data that actually ends up getting to V1 (after being relayed from the LGN), I'm surprised an actual image can be reconstructed from the information. After all, the RGCs tend to pass on things like movement, edges, contrast and color, but it's not even remotely pixel by pixel type data, which is precisely the informaiton that gets passed on to V1.

      Since it's coming from an fMRI, there's no way the image can be very detailed. I suspect it will be very low resolution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        The images they used were very high contrast (black and white) and quite simple - squares, lines, crosses, etc. It's not really surprising you can reconstruct that sort of data from the visual cortex. Still, very cool. The paper is worth a look.

        I'll be really impressed when someone reconstructs a recognizable non-synthetic image. Oh, and how colour is represented.

    • by ovu ( 1410823 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:49PM (#26079645)

      "The current accomplishment is low hanging fruit and therefore uninteresting. Surprising, really, that they found funding for such an unnecessary demonstration at all! By commercializing this technology, it would become sufficiently interesting to deserve my royal approval."

      Belittling humanity's incremental advancement as if you're a third party, how's that working out for you?

      I think it's tremendously exciting. Thanks for the buzzkill though, it reminds me to get off the computer and interact with people of my choosing.

    • by Skinkie ( 815924 )
      In The Netherlands (AMC) the cost of fMRI is about 400 euros per hour in research setup, that includes two supervisors using a 3T scanner. So if you are able to get someone really sleepy; and doesn't mind the noise it would be possible to scan for 10 hours straight; unless the device overheats of course. Waking up with an antenna on your head might be a bit of a problem. But even after two hours in there at 10pm I didn't have any problems to close my eyes in the dark room. I would happy to volunteer for su
    • You are probably right, but I'm guessing MRI prices would fall drastically if you could book them around the clock - and if they weren't being used for medical diagnostic purposes requiring specialized personnel.
    • "low-hanging fruit"

      Monkey steals the peach!

    • and bear the ~$700/hour cost of MRI

      bear in mind that this was published in Japan where MRI Scans are 100 bucks and are not billed by the hour: []
  • No pictures? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pwnies ( 1034518 ) * <> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:08PM (#26078909) Homepage Journal
    Honestly? Come on now. Saying you can retrieve images from the mind, then not showing said pictures is the same as claiming you've achieved cold fusion without showing any energy for it.

    I think this is the first time I can scientifically say, "Pics or it didn't happen."
  • Pixels (Score:2, Funny)

    In the recent experiment, the research group asked two people to look at 440 different still images one by one on a 100-pixel screen. Each of the images comprised random gray sections and flashing sections.

    100 pixels? Sounds like they were watching japanese porn...

  • This is NOT new (Score:4, Informative)

    by oroborous ( 800136 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:11PM (#26078961)
    A Berkeley group has already reported this in Nature using similar methods: [])
    • Yes, it is (Score:5, Informative)

      by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:41PM (#26079515)

      Didn't read the full article, but from the abstract

      We show that these receptive-field models make it possible to identify, from a large set of completely novel natural images, which specific image was seen by an observer...

      Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person's visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone.

      The article you linked to seems to only be able to tell which object a person saw from their fMRI. I believe it required established measurements too, IE "this part of the brain lights up when they see a face. In blind studies, that part of the brain lit up, so they must have seen a face."

      Whether it required a calibration for each individual or not, no image reconstruction was done: it's not the same thing at all.

    • by tobiah ( 308208 )

      I just skimmed both papers, looks like the Japanese group goes well beyond what they did at Berkeley, capturing true images, whereas the Berkeley group only found some evidence that this would be possible.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:13PM (#26078985)

    THEY have been able to do this for decades! Where is your tinfoil hat now? Ha!

  • Once Apple builds this into the next iPhone, everyone will be able to see what a perv I am.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      In all likely, you will find out your not nearly the perv you though you are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Which is more perverted, the disgusting thoughts that I actually have in my head, or the fact that I want to record them so I can watch them again later?

        Either way you're right, considering the thoughts I have, I definitely don't want to see what everyone else is thinking about.
  • An interesting idea. Assuming that it is able to be perfected, you could theoretically try and recreate those 'energy patterns' in a persons mind to create the image. Of course I'm mostly pulling that out of my ass, but once you can go one way, it makes going the other way easier. Not necessarily possible, but still an interesting idea. The ways to abuse this either way is staggering though.
  • This is so cool! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CreatorOfSmallTruths ( 579560 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:14PM (#26079013)

    This , if true , will have HUGE implications - we'll be able to see what people THINK. I don't know if you actually grasp the monument dimensions of this. Checking for terrorism, knowing if you are really loved, truth telling machines, like the internet, something like this can level the plain field for a long long time...

    • by Nasajin ( 967925 )
      I can see it now:

      "Checking, checking, checking... Nope! no terrorism here!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I can see this as being terrible. I mean really, imagine going through an airport and all you have to do is NOT think terrorist thoughts...I don't know about you but I can see many many Ghostbusters moments occurring.

      "Okay nobody think of anything!"
      "Your destruction has been chosen!"
      "Who though of something?! I didn't!"
      *Giant marshmallow blobs appear*
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        "Do not think about the white hippopotamus while turning the boiling water into gold!"

    • You think that's cool? I think it's frightening and would be a ridiculous invasion of privacy.

      Do you really want George W. Bush having access to your thoughts, even if it was just visual data? I can personally think of few worse things than that.
    • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:45PM (#26080685) Homepage Journal

      This , if true , will have HUGE implications - we'll be able to see what people THINK.

      Data in V1/V2 does not constitute cognition, those areas constitute pretty much a visual map of data gathered by the eye (roughly). Its doubtful that imagined visuals are even represented in these areas. This, in other words, doesn't provide any insight into thoughts, just what people see.

      I admit, though, that this is awesome. If we can read it, we theoretically could write to it, which would allow for direct neural interfaces.

  • I still wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:16PM (#26079053) Homepage
    Years ago I was a sign language interpreter (ASL), and after a few years realized that I was thinking in ASL and "visually" instead of the usual auditory monologue... I always wondered if you use a completely different part of the brain to process the language - or if it just gets translated into language concepts before processing... I wonder how long before "telepathic" audio is available.
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      I've noticed that handwriting seems to be tied to the same channel as speech, but typing is a different channel, and over time it tends to override and damage the speech/handwriting channel.

  • Ive often thought this might be possible - get a Neural Network to analyse those MRI images we could have some interesting results.


  • They use fMRI scans. This means they measure the blood flow which powers the neurons. It is like measuring the power usage of the various parts of the gpu and figuring out the graphics it is rendering...
    Of course a real neural interface would be amazing (first of all imagine of all the pr0n - yeah, that's what I mean, you just have to IMAGINE!, rule 34!) but we are not even close. Or as journalists would very incorrectly state "we are light years from that" (hmm, unless they mean the brain scanning center

    • Is "we are light years from that" any worse than "it will be veeeery long way before we have that"?
      • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

        It is, if it is not used metaphorically and you actually think "light year" measures time. You are right though, the phrase I chose is not a good example of that.

        • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

          Oh, I remembered one such instance I read in a paper not long ago. In one of those "scientific" articles it mentioned that photons from the sun take 8 light-minutes to reach earth... Obviously the writer thought a light-minute/year etc is time when it applies to light, or something like that. Anyway, don't tell me you haven't read stuff like that...

    • Or as journalists would very incorrectly state "we are light years from that" (hmm, unless they mean the brain scanning center in the Betelgeuse system).

      Our planet/solar system/galaxy is moving through space, and at the time we discover said technology we could very well be light years away from the location we are at today.

  • by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:19PM (#26079117)

    Dr. Walter Bishop (Cambridge) was doing this in the '70s.

  • This was actually done 5 to 10 years ago with cats. The researchers used directly implanted electrodes to 'see' the same things the cats were seeing. I've always thought this was one of the most-amazing-yet-little-known pieces of research I've ever read. I can't recall the journal or anything like that, but that article at least DID have pictures.
  • Feedback Loop? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drpentode ( 586437 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:20PM (#26079155)
    Would looking at the image your brain is generating at the same time you are generating it create a feedback loop much like holding a microphone too close to a speaker?
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Interesting concept. I wonder if it might be used to refine an image, with an effect rather like watching an interlaced image downloading.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )

      Would looking at the image your brain is generating at the same time you are generating it create a feedback loop much like holding a microphone too close to a speaker?

      IIIIIIIII tried tried tried ttttttttthhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaatttttt once once once once...............bbbbbbaaaaaaaaaadddddddddd iiiiiiiiiidddddddeeeeeeeeaaaaaaa.

    • by StarkRG ( 888216 )

      If they could get the processing to work that fast then yeah. I wonder if that would fry your brain...

      I vote that you try it first.

    • by bridgeco ( 1385677 ) <s-bridges.neiu@edu> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:42PM (#26080631)

      Would looking at the image your brain is generating at the same time you are generating it create a feedback loop much like holding a microphone too close to a speaker?

      Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich?

  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <sorceror171@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#26079161) Homepage
    From what I can gather, they're pulling in rather low-level data - essentially 'listening in' on the very lowest level of pattern-recognition that's applied to the data coming in from the optic nerve. That's certainly interesting, but a whole lot more processing happens at higher levels before you 'see' anything. (C.f. people who lose sight early on due to eye problems, and have sight restored later - their brains can't do much with the information at first [].)

    Dreams appear to be based on the 'noise' coming in, but a lot of interpretation is applied (and without imposed constraints of consistency or logic). A common game/prank [] involves people asking yes/no questions about an alleged dream, but the answers they get are based on some simple scheme like "yes if the last word in the question they ask ends in a consonant". Surprisingly detailed 'stories' get constructed... by the person asking the questions. (Here's what appears to be an online version [].) Actual dreams seem to be built in an analogous way, with the subconscious 'asking questions' of the senses (which are just feeding in 'static') and weaving an experience out of them.

    I'd guess that 'eavesdropping' on dreams via this means would only get the kind of swirling colors and such you 'see' when you close your eyes.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      is it dark

      is the sun shining

      is the moon visible

      am i outdoors

      am i looking through the window

      can I see the moon

      is it cloudy

      am i in bed

      am i with a pretty girl

      am i dead

      is the girl a necrophiliac

      did the girl kill me

      How do I wake up?? I don't think I like this dream very much!!

  • A division of Massive Dynamic []. "What do we do? What don't we do."

  • TLJ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:26PM (#26079247)
    Reminds me of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey.
  • And some Paprika [] to go with it.

  • Just wondering what the Department of Homeland Security would do with technology like this. Its kind of scary, don't you think? Especially if this gets optimized and is proven accurate. On the other hand, imagine being able to reconstruct exact images from the mind of a victim to identify their assailant? But then you still have an issue with accuracy because human memory is so prone to being influenced. Still, pretty neat stuff.
  • so they claimed to read his brain.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:45PM (#26079579) Journal

    The primary visual cortex (V1) has already been shown to be retinotopic. What's being seen can be mapped directly from the cortex. It's crude and low-res, but it works.

    20 years ago a researcher working with Karl Pribram at Radford University was able to detect signals from small cellular assemblies of the visual cortex that represented a particular shape being viewed without mapping the entire shape from V1.

    In both these, the images were received directly from the brain. In both they were digitally processed and presented. In all three what was retrieved was not an image, but was a pattern of neural electrical activity that they had already determined represented a particular visual field. They could not (in keeping with the /. tendency to represent reality with fiction) for instance, retrieve the third frame of a series of images that had been briefly presesnted. They would have had to show the image for some time that record EEG from the appropriate areas for long enough that they could get a good correlation when showing it a second time.

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:55PM (#26079777)
    If scientists can understand perfectly how the brain translates images into neural signals, it opens up the possibility to build full cybernetic eye replacements, even if the nerve tissue is damaged and non-functional. The medical applications are mind-boggling.

    Also, I'm reminded of the interrogation device from the movie Barb Wire, the one that pulls out images from your brain whether you want it to or not...

  • FINALLY! Someone will be able to help me find that dream girl I keep dreaming of! Think she'll be able to forgive me? [nudge, nudge. wink, wink.]

  • by dlevitan ( 132062 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:02PM (#26079899)

    I think this would be amazing for law enforcement sketches. Instead of having to ask a witness what the person looked like, they could just copy it out of their visual cortex. No, it wouldn't be perfect, and it wouldn't be acceptable in court as proof someone was there (since you can just imagine your worst enemy in the place of the actual person), but it would help with sketches for wanted posters and the like. Especially if it was cheap and easy.

  • The Opposite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Clandestine_Blaze ( 1019274 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:15PM (#26080117) Journal

    I wonder if the process can be reversed, and images can be fed into the brain to create a dream sequence? Will people who really hate their reality use this as an escape and never try to wake up again?

    Cool story!

  • Didn't they do something like this on Fox's Fringe [] series as a plot device?

    For anyone unfamiliar with the show, it's basically Fox's response to Eureka on the SciFi channel, only much, much darker and probably unlikely to last more than one season...

  • Brainshots? (Score:3, Funny)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @04:39PM (#26080569) Homepage

    I haven't read the article yet. Does it include any brainshots? (Please, no JFK jokes...)

  • Reconstruct a known pattern?? Big Friggin' Deal. It's not hard when you know what you are looking for. Wake me up when they can tap into someone's brain and pull out a random image!
  • I always wondered how the President of the USA could end up with his brain missing but mostly why it could be missing. I figured the Sci-Fi stories of brain scanning and the likes probably had someone worried something in JFK's memory should stay hidden unknown to all others.

    now it seems that if this was the case, they just might have based their actions on a valid fear.


"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger