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Japanese Scientists Claim To Reconstruct Images From Brain Data

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the shutter-to-think dept.

Biotech 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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Predictably (5, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078855)

It was a male subject and the image was Hentai.

Dreaming Is A Private Thing (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078861)

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 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079121)

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:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (3, Funny)

matthewsmalley (242855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079457)

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

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (1)

BlargIAmDead (1100545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079637)

Asimov also predicted he would be able to touch the moon -_-. You good sir have been out-literaried.

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079761)

He can probably already touch the moon. Don't you know your Vonegut?

Isaac's in heaven now.

I assume that Asimov got to tag the moon on his way by. Best speech opening ever.

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079703)

I'm still waiting for Sally [wikipedia.org] ; 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 thought of that story when I read TFA. He wasn't the only sci-fi author to predict advances, but he's the only one I can think of that predicted this one.

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.

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079933)

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

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079847)

Did he predict that to?

Re:Dreaming Is A Private Thing (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079743)

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.

Pics or it didn't happen (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26078871)

Expect any sample images in Japanese publication to be heavily pixelated.

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (0)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079181)

http://download.cell.com/neuron/pdf/PIIS0896627308009586.pdf [cell.com]

There are the pics. Haven't had time to read through the text yet, but I did see 3 pixelated reconstructions next to the original image.

Not very good quality, but better than what we had before (nothing.)

Probably requires a subscription to get it. As most do on this site, feel free to complain about that, but realize it's not the researcher's fault. They did provide the pics. The journalists at Asahi and Yomuri didn't, but you're not reading real science papers if you're reading newspapers.

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (4, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079235)

Maybe this image will not require a subscription, although I suspect it will.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/cache/MiamiImageURL/B6WSS-4V4113M-P-7/0?wchp=dGLbVtz-zSkzk [sciencedirect.com]

On the off chance it does, keep in mind this is not the full article. Critiques along the lines of "this doesn't prove anything," or "They should have done X" are premature if you haven't read the full (journal) article. If you thought of it, they probably covered that in the article you're not willing to pay for.

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079381)

that image works. i don't know if it requires registration or not (because i just registered), but it doesn't require payment to view. the PDF link will just redirect you to a shopping cart page with that paper added.

Quick.. (2, Funny)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078881)

Quick, everyone picture Scarlett Johansson naked.. ..I need some new pictures for my collection

How? (0)

syngularyx (1070768) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078889)

Did they use a USB port?

No more lack of artistic skills for me (5, Interesting)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:No more lack of artistic skills for me (1)

alexme (1421379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079107)

Now finally i'll be able to create Dragon Ball Z 2009.

Re:No more lack of artistic skills for me (4, Interesting)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:No more lack of artistic skills for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079461)

Sorry, what you have is the idea of cool images in your head, which is distinctly different than visually processing of said images, regardless of source (experience, dreams, memory). This research is about the latter.

Emacs Macro! (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079747)

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!

Re:No more lack of artistic skills for me (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079861)

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".

Kinda neat, not that exciting though (3, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078901)

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:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (2, Insightful)

oroborous (800136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079051)

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.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (5, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (4, Interesting)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (0, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079483)

I am freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
freeeeeeee baaaaaaaaaallllliiiiiin

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (1)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079525)

I have no problem imagining vivid images, but then again I also get hallucinations every once in a while. It would be very interesting to see how a brain-image reader would perform on someone with schizophrenia or a related psychiatric condition.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079891)

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.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079133)

I totally agree. It would have been possible to do that experiment ever since the advent of retinotopic fMRI in the late 1990's. If it has never been done before, that is only because there is no application for it and it doesn't tell us anything about the brain.

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079153)

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

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (0, Offtopic)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079293)

I assume you're trying to tell us how much better Adobe Photobloat is than the GIMP?

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079303)

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).

The back-projection to V1 is thought to be subtractive. In other words, you stick a 2d raster representation of an object (say, a dog) onto V1, and it passes that representation upstream until you arrive at the semantic level ("oh, look, it's a dog"). Once that happens, though, it's suspected that those higher-level areas inhibit V1 to the extent that elements directly related to the classification are suppressed - in other words, turning down the volume on the 'dog' part and seeing what else there is.

Dream imagery likely happens much farther up the chain; doubt V1 would have much of anything there. Why is this story news again?

Re:Kinda neat, not that exciting though (3, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Does it get lonely up in your crystal tower? (5, Insightful)

ovu (1410823) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Yay (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078907)

Does this mean that I can't broadcast my imagination before 22:00?

No pictures? (3, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078909)

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."

For the last time... (4, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079059)

People read blurby summaries, which don't include the results, the full reasoning, methods, etc, and then act as if it's the fault of the researchers. It's absurd, that's neither the paper nor the direct work of the researchers, it's some non-scientist working for a news source. Read the actual paper, TFA in these cases are rarely any better than TFS.

http://download.cell.com/neuron/pdf/PIIS0896627308009586.pdf [cell.com]

There's the PDF. It does have the very pixelated images. I haven't had time to read through it.

As always, don't complain to me if you don't happen to have a subscription, and not having a subscription is no reason to act as if the results aren't real.

Re:No pictures? (5, Informative)

Peeet (730301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079097)

It's right there on the Japanese press release page, you can see at the bottom of the image at the top left of the article, they have the before and after of the word "neuron". Here, I'll make it even easier for ya: http://www2.asahi.com/kansai/news/image/OSK200812100099.jpg [asahi.com]

Re:No pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079199)

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.

But I did make cold fusion!!! Really, I have it in my garage, I'll show you... uh, right now my garage needs cleaned up. Might be a long while before I can show anyone in though. ;-)

I think this is the first time I can scientifically say, "Pics or it didn't happen."

You've been waiting for this moment haven't you? ;-)

Re:No pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079301)

The journal article has a video showing the decoding in action but I think it requires a subscription.

"Claim to" (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078921)

An odd choice of words in the title. Is this really so unbelievable, considering the progress we've seen so far in brain-machine interfaces?

If it is simply scientific rigor, then why doesn't every title on a new discovery include the words "claim to"?

Pixels (2, Funny)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078939)

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...

Old news... (1)

JaneTheIgnorantSlut (1265300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078941)

I saw this on "Fringe" a couple of weeks ago.

Re:Old news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079129)

That show is still around? It was pretty bad when I watched it.

This is NOT new (4, Informative)

oroborous (800136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078961)

A Berkeley group has already reported this in Nature using similar methods: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v452/n7185/abs/nature06713.html [nature.com] )

Yes, it is (4, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Thanks for the link (1, Insightful)

tobiah (308208) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079927)

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.

World first? I think not! (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26078985)

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

Beginning of the end for me (1, Redundant)

caywen (942955) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079003)

Once Apple builds this into the next iPhone, everyone will be able to see what a perv I am.

Re:Beginning of the end for me (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079173)

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

Re:Beginning of the end for me (2, Funny)

TheLostSamurai (1051736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079871)

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.

Creating Telepathy (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079011)

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.

Re:Creating Telepathy (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079843)

And if that's possible then the next step will be "real" virtual reality.

This is so cool! (3, Interesting)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:This is so cool! (1)

Nasajin (967925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079165)

I can see it now:

"Checking, checking, checking... Nope! no terrorism here!"

Re:This is so cool! (2, Funny)

BlargIAmDead (1100545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079795)

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*

I still wonder (4, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079053)

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.

Nice (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079055)

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

N.

Until the End of the World? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079065)

I need batteries.

This can only end badly for me (1)

PitViper401 (619163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079069)

the things I picture in my mind are illegal in 49 out of 50 states so this ain't good.

Not much to see here - just fMRI & statistics. (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079091)

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 in the Betelgeuse system).

Re:Not much to see here - just fMRI & statisti (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079491)

Is "we are light years from that" any worse than "it will be veeeery long way before we have that"?

Re:Not much to see here - just fMRI & statisti (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079885)

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.

Oh Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079115)

I better start thinking good thoughts... dont want to any one to see all the porno stuff in my brain!

Not impressed (4, Funny)

IronChef (164482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079117)

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

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079665)

Not only that, but he did it on a guy who was DEAD!

Re:Not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079727)

God i wish i could mod you down, if only for referencing such a heinous tv show.

this is further proof that japan (0, Redundant)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079123)

is the world leader in creepy technology [thesun.co.uk]

Re: this is further proof that japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079463)

is the world leader in creepy technology [thesun.co.uk]

... except that was done in Canada
... and that person isn't even Japanese, so what does that have to do with Japan again?

Re:this is further proof that japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079481)

is the world leader in creepy technology [thesun.co.uk]

Keep making the mistake. The guy in you Sun's article is a Vietnamese origin and he's living in Canada.

Re:this is further proof that japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079503)

Eh-!
Le Trung is not Japanese: he's Canadian! (FTA)
(although "Aiko" is a JP name....)
Don't go assuming all Canadians are Japanese just because of their skin colour!

Re:this is further proof that japan (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079625)

To his credit, that robot is less creepy than the Britneys and Spice Girls of this world. At least that robot is a honest fake.

This was done a long time ago with cats (1)

johnthorensen (539527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079147)

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.

Re:This was done a long time ago with cats (1)

SirStiff (911718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079623)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/471786.stm [bbc.co.uk] I think the difference is that the cat images were recorded in real-time whereas the human images in the current experiment were recorded as they recalled them later.

Feedback Loop? (5, Interesting)

drpentode (586437) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Hall of Mirrors (1)

ovu (1410823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079863)

probably more like pointing a video camera at a monitor, the "hall of mirrors" effect...

Nope, dreams would just be noise (4, Informative)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079161)

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 [newschool.edu] .)

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 [ultimatecampresource.com] 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 [callenish.com] .) 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.

Brought to you by (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079227)

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

TLJ (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079247)

Reminds me of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey.

Futurama! (1)

tbj61898 (643014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079305)

I recall an old episode from FUTURAMA series, where commercials are projected directly into dreams during night sleeps. does this sounds like the next step?

Re:Futurama! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079507)

Lightspeed Briefs ftw

Cant wait for my DC Mini (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079315)

And some Paprika [wikipedia.org] to go with it.

Market BOOM! (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079347)

And people thought I was silly when I started selling tin-foil hats - Perfect for floods, tying up small packages, and blocking my other money making thoughts from the view of the japanese brain spying overlords.

HAH!

Thought crime? (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079373)

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.

Bye bye camera.. (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079377)

Now I have life time storage of pictures running since day 1 of my life.

* Hike up the mountain
* Singing with friends.
* Cute redhead in compromising position...

WHOA! Careful what you think there slick when showing pics to the family! ;)

Not the only group doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079399)

I saw a poster from a group at Berkely at the Society for Neuroscience meeting last month that was doing something very similar. The "reconstructions" look like gray blobs that show some of the same structure features of the image. So if the picture was a building by a lake, there might be a dark region in the reconstruction that approximates the location of the lake, and maybe a lighter blob where the building is, but the resolution is super-low. Since the BOLD images generated by fMRI are so heavily averaged to begin with (both spatially across neurons and temporally), this is not surprising. Still, the raw reconstruction was cool in an of itself. But they also had a bayesian model informed by priors (based on some huge image set from the internet) that allowed them to "reconstruct" both symantic and structural content with a much higher resolution. Or maybe better to say meta-resolution since the "reconstruction" was actually a picture selected from the huge data set that best expressed the spatial and semantic content of the image being viewed and not a true reconstruction. Depending on your world-view, it was either pretty cool or pretty disturbing. But, the reconstructions were also very closely tied to the models of visual cortex, which is a relatively well understood brain region. No way they could reconstruct what you were imagining or thinking (yet), just what activations patterns are occurring as a direct result of visual stimulation.

yeah, put a conehat on Bush and got a BSOD (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079493)

so they claimed to read his brain.

Van Eck (1)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079575)

I'm in ur MRI
Van Eck phreaking ur mind...

Yet Another Unnew Result (4, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079579)

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.

incriminating (1)

xaositects (786749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079599)

just make sure you screen those dream movies before letting your significant other see them....

Great, now at airports people are really screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079629)

Am I the only one who immediately thought that this is going to be added to the metal detectors at the airport to catch "terrorists"?

scientifically, I'm happy... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079655)

This opens so many doors for abuse. I'm sorry they were even working on this. It seems like I need that aluminum foil after all.

Calm down (1)

drdewm (894886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079691)

This gets people all worked up but will never happen the way we imagine it. We are afraid that "they" can see into our minds and know all those dirty little secrets that we keep hidden away. If dreams are viewable then thoughts will be and if people saw what we are really thinking then our secrets would be out.

Fastest Thing in the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26079707)

Is it light? No. Is it thought? No.

The fastest thing in the world is the crap. You crap yourself in the pants before you think about it or turn on the lights on the bathroom

Communication Gaps (1)

foley500 (958962) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079733)

Moreso than any artisitic ramifications, I find it exciting that this might be used to better understand and communicate with the mentally challenged. For example, it would be amazing to have feedback from an autistic mind to gain insight and clarity on what's going on up there to better improve the interactive process and possibly even better understand the root cause.

Some great potential here (3, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Dream girl! Finally!! (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26079873)

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.]

Law Enforcement Sketch Drawing (2, Insightful)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

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