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Brain Imaging Reveals the Movies In Our Mind

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the coming-to-a-tsa-checkpoint-near-you dept.

Science 141

wisebabo sends word that scientists from UC Berkeley have developed a method for scanning brain activity and then constructing video clips that represent what took place in a person's visual cortex (abstract). The technology is obviously quite limited, and "decades" away from any kind of sci-fi-esque thought reading, but it's impressive nonetheless. From the news release: "[Subjects] watched two separate sets of Hollywood movie trailers, while fMRI was used to measure blood flow through the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. On the computer, the brain was divided into small, three-dimensional cubes known as volumetric pixels, or 'voxels.' ... The brain activity recorded while subjects viewed the first set of clips was fed into a computer program that learned, second by second, to associate visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity. Brain activity evoked by the second set of clips was used to test the movie reconstruction algorithm. This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program so that it could predict the brain activity that each film clip would most likely evoke in each subject. Finally, the 100 clips that the computer program decided were most similar to the clip that the subject had probably seen were merged to produce a blurry yet continuous reconstruction of the original movie."

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This is late, House did it (2)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490538)

A couple seasons ago...

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37493290)

Actually, the film Brainstorm did it in the early 80's. Natalie Woods' last movie, and a spectacular look at the future of virtual pr0n.

Plus: Christopher Walken.

This is late, House did it (-1, Redundant)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490552)

A few seasons ago...

Re:This is late, House did it (2, Funny)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490572)

yay for /.'s lag that made me think I forgot to press submit...

Re:This is late, House did it (1, Funny)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490746)

Yay for nailing first and second post, dude. You rock.

Re:This is late, House did it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490838)

He only got first post. The second post is how it appears in your mind.

Re:This is late, House did it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491168)

shut up

Re:This is late, House did it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491316)

Psh, nigga please. [imgur.com]

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490976)

If you'd linked to what you're talking about we'd know you do more than watch TV hospital dramas.

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491066)

I don't. I hibernate the whole time between House episodes.

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491444)

Do you? Or is that all just a crazy dream?

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491870)

I hibernate the whole time between House episodes.

Then House is on right now. Why are you posting on /. during House!?

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492110)

Then House is on right now. Why are you posting on /. during House!?

If he'd been watching the computer screen he would have known he had already submitted the post the first time.

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492114)

No, I'm under a sonambulism spell, since at this very moment, House is off in my country.

Re:This is late, House did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491436)

Yeah, and Dreamscape [imdb.com] did it 27 years ago.

Recording (2)

binkzz (779594) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490556)

Does this mean I can record my dreams with Scarlett Johansen and Natalie Portman and view them at a later date? Or sell them on ebay?

Re:Recording (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490940)

Wake me when I can record on my PC dreams with Scarlett and Natalie, then view them in my dreams when I can fully interact with them.

On second thought, don't wake me then ;).

Re:Recording (2)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491218)

I suppose that in principle, if you can synthesise an image from a set of neural patterns you can do the reverse. Give the computer your video, and it'll give you the neural activity associated with that video. Just get your brain wired up at a sufficiently fine resolution and let the computer stimulate your visual centres to create the appropriate visual pattern. (Of course this is probably so coarse-grained that you'd just wind up recreating the "sex" scene in Demolition Man.)

Re:Recording (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491430)

Well, what this system is doing is selecting from a library of video clips the 100 clips whose brain signatures when viewed were closest to the brain signatures sensed later. So the video is lo-fi because of averaging of the images. More signal processing, particularly a stats model for excluding red herrings, will give this system higher specificity in selecting the video to match the sensed signature.

It will take another breakthru to generate a 3D image (more likely than a 2D image, which is really just a derived artifact of the 3D brain activity) directly from the sensed brain activity rather than selecting a correlating video. But that breakthru is at least as likely to occur in the SW/data video realm as in the brain/sensor realm. Because we might be able to use large video libraries, and swatches within their 2D images, as primitives from which to synthesize the 3D visual image, rather than building the recreated images from raw voxels. Which is, I believe, precisely how the brain does it.

What will also come along is reading and stimulating other brain sensory (apperceptory, really) regions that are active when we think we're having a hi-fi memory. Often the details are not remembered, but we "remember" that we are remembering the details, in the "metadata". That level of resynth will require the breakthru of stimulating those brain regions, not just reading mappable sensory regions. But with this research at UC Berkeley I think we are now in the (very long and difficult) phase of "working out the details". We are over the watershed into the new age.

Re:Recording (1)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491768)

Sex is one thing, but think of the big picture:

You could finally play WoW 24/7 without missing your sleep!

Re:Recording (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491184)

You've been reading my mind, haven't you?

Re:Recording (3, Insightful)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491380)

Watch out the MPAA might sue you for having dreams about their precious content.

Re:Recording (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491748)

Watch out the MPAA might sue you for having dreams about their precious content.

They will insist that you either pay lifetime royalties or whipe your mind clean.

Re:Recording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37492416)

whipe, wipe, or W-hype?

Re:Recording (1)

mailman-zero (730254) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493216)

It's pronounced "Cool Whip."

Images in the mind? (1)

Yogijalla (630186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490566)

There are no images in the mind. And no dogs in dog biscuits.

Re:Images in the mind? (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490892)

Bah, the voices in my head show me pictures all the time.

Re:Images in the mind? (1)

Yogijalla (630186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490996)

There are no voices in your head either. To say so is just abuse of language.

Re:Images in the mind? (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491428)

The voices may not be real but they have some pretty good suggestions.

Re:Images in the mind? (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492182)

I'll pass that information on to above referenced voices.

Re:Images in the mind? (0)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491100)

Any no baby in baby oil.

Re:Images in the mind? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491676)

You'd think that wouldn't you...

Re:Images in the mind? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491738)

But plenty of retards on Slashdot.

Thought Police (1)

ChapsRL8 (665139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490574)

In the not to distant future we will have REAL thought police!

not mentioned (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490580)

how quickly the MPAA sued the scientists for infringement of copyright

Re:not mentioned (2)

vlad30 (44644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490758)

Actually the MPAA are investing in the technology so that every time you think of any movie they can charge you

Re:not mentioned (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491488)

Finally the RIAA can charge for every repeat of that song that's stuck in your head.

Re:not mentioned (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493272)

Finally the RIAA can charge for every repeat of that song that's stuck in your head.

Damn. I would be soooooo screwed if that happened. Ever since I recently discovered Hungry Like the Wolf (yes, I know I am about 3 decades too late on this one, but even though the 80s were my prime years, this one somehow managed to escape my notice back then), the song has been playing in my brain several times a day for a couple hours straight.

I would owe the RIAA a gajillion dollars or so, give or take a few.

I wonder.. (2)

Mordermi (2432580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490634)

If I go watch a movie in the theater, then replay it to my friends later from my mind.. Would that be an illegal bootleg?

Re:I wonder.. (2)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490722)

That would be a very cool way to make spoilers.

Re:I wonder.. (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493200)

If I go watch a movie in the theater, then replay it to my friends later from my mind.. Would that be an illegal bootleg?

It would only be a bootleg if the transmission came from your leg instead of your head, and only if you are wearing boots...and then only if the boots are stolen.

misleading demo (5, Informative)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490636)

The video showing the original source and "output" is misleading.
The output is not synthesized directly from the fMRI data.
Rather, they take a bunch of samples from youtube and try to find a sample that generates the closest match the fMRI data.

Still impressively neat. It's just that they need to more explicitly explain what they're doing.

Re:misleading demo (0)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490710)

You mean, how it was explicitly stated in the summary? And in the linked article? And in the paper itself? How much more explanation do you need?!

Re:misleading demo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490982)

Its not in the title.

Re:misleading demo (1)

toxonix (1793960) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492722)

He's just helping out people who don't read. He believes they'll take the time to read his comment after having skipped reading the article and going straight for the "movin' pichures" This BTW, is the coolest demo I've seen all day.

Re:misleading demo (1)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490964)

Ah right.. I was wondered why there was typed text in the right clip.. Seemed unlikely the brain would subtitles everything internally. :)

Re:misleading demo (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491020)

It doesn't just "try to find a sample" that closely matches the data. It interpolates several together. It's expanding in a basis of YouTube clips and their corresponding fMRI patterns.

Re:misleading demo (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492760)

Yes doing exactly what you say you are doing is very misleading.

Re:misleading demo (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492774)

Reconstructing images from neural data has in fact already been done; the resolution is pretty low but you can make out basic shapes. Visual Image Reconstruction from Human Brain [youtube.com] which is based on the paper Visual Image Reconstruction from Human Brain Activity using a Combination of Multiscale Local Image Decoders [kendrickkay.net] .

The resolution of a reconstituted neural image is higher if you directly wire electrodes to the brain; see Looking through cats' eyes [bbc.co.uk] and the PDF Reconstruction of natural scenes from ensemble responses in the lateral geniculate nucleus. [harvard.edu]

Worrisome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490642)

We all don't like being tracked via Cookies on our Web Browser, how do think this is going to pan out years down the road?

Talk about absolutely no Privacy . . . EVER . . . .

Let's not even get going on the unethical uses our Government's are going to put this too . . . .

I don't like this at all :(

Re:Worrisome (1)

slim (1652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490784)

I don't think anyone's going to MRI scan you without your knowledge any time soon.

Re:Worrisome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491282)

"I don't think anyone's going to MRI scan you without your knowledge any time soon."

You're right, the first installments will be with your knowledge, but without your consent.
The 'without knowledge' comes later.

Re:Worrisome (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490972)

You'll be long dead by the time this technology becomes useful.

Re:Worrisome (2)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491626)

That's what they said about flying cars and look.... oh, wait

Re:Worrisome (2)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491096)

Conversely, I think this is an AWESOME development.

Just think. Once perfected this could be used in trials to definitively prove innocence or guilt. Massively cut back on the slimeball lawyers and jackasses lying in court to get off.

Re:Worrisome (1)

patch5 (1990504) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491960)

Easy, there. While this might be okay on a voluntary basis to prove innocence, I'd guess that the right to protection against self-incrimination in the fifth amendment would probably prohibit this from being used to prove guilt or suspend the need for trials.

Re:Worrisome (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493342)

I didn't say get rid of lawyers, jut cut down on them. The fundamental job of a lawyer is to protect the persons right and ensure due process, it is NOT to get the guy off at all costs. Most lawyers have forgotten that.

Really constructed? (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490652)

Starting at @0:06 and the words. Who the heck did they test this on and why do they apparently subtitle their thoughts?

@0:07, the words "Powershot" 2 secs in the bottom right.

"Lot4Life" in the elephants.

This is going to be a RTFA story it appears.

Re:Really constructed? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491058)

Its output is generated by interpolating together YouTube clips. The computer has a model of how a video maps onto a pattern of fMRI activity. Given a pattern of fMRI activity, it can attempt to generate an interpolation of YouTube clips that closely recreates that pattern.

Re:Really constructed? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491770)

For definitions of closely. That looks a lot more like a painting of a headcrab zombie on a grassy field in front of a lake of blood than a parrot.

Re:Really constructed? (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492542)

True. When I first looked at it, I thought, "This is pretty nifty." Come to think of it, maybe I still think that... ...but upon further examination of the two images in the summary, I think the only direct correlation I can see between the images is the very general color of the bird and that the parrot's tail is on the correct side of its body in the "result" picture. Maybe if I were to RTFA, it would explain that the image had to be flipped to correspond or something.

Re:Really constructed? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493360)

It's also limited to the training data. Even if the brain activity can be accurately correlated to the closest training images, averaging 100 of the closest matches still has to come reasonably close to the actual scene for you to recognize it.

Assassin's Creed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490666)

Great. Now they're going to build an Animus and make poor test subjects go insane.

Time to dust off my tinfoil hat (1)

chomsky68 (1719996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490766)

I think I still got it somewhere at the bottom of a paper box...

The MPAA called... (1)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490770)

they want to know when you'll be sending your royalty checks to them. Please make the check out to "All Your Thought Belong to Us"...

nightmarish (2)

notgm (1069012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490788)

that video validated every single nightmare i've ever had

In the other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490790)

The M.P.A.A. asking DHS to install brainscanners on Airports to fight piracy (you need an additional license to remember a movie)...

Francis Bacon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490870)

The output has apparently been touched up by a Mr. Francis Bacon...

William Hurt did it first! (sort of) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37490878)

Fantastic movie, if you can actually get your hands on a copy: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101458/ [imdb.com]

This is IT: Brain/Computer Interface (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490912)

This science is the watershed in human/machine interfaces. An improved version of this tech will give computers direct reads of our visual mind. We will imagine scenes that computers will interpret to execute.

How far along are we getting in cheap, low-power SQUID [wikipedia.org] caps (or alternative gear) that we can wear to express to our Internet and personal processors what we imagine happening, so our machines can make it so?

copyright (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37490936)

so what now? What kind of an encrypted link of - image to brain (or sound or text to brain), are music and movie studios going to require government mandates? Because clearly, this shit is an unauthorized copy right there.

This is phenomenal! (1)

janimal (172428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491012)

The fact that this is compiled from superimposed youtube clips in no way detracts from how absolutely awesome this is. If I were to tell you what I'm seeing, you would also compare my description with images that you know and imagine my vision via metaphors.... which, all things considered, works quite well in everyday life, by the way.

Re:This is phenomenal! (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491124)

I was going to say there's no reason why they needed to use YouTube footage, and they could've used abstract shapes and patterns as the basis for reassembling the image. Then it occurred to me that given our visual system is an evolved artefact, you might actually be able to work more efficiently using naturalistic images.

Brainstorm (1983) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491022)

Well, it's a step closer to that movie, anyways. Maybe in 10 or 20 years. :-)

Re:Brainstorm (1983) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491478)

We'll be closer once we can bring Natalie Wood back from the dead.

(awesome movie tho, wonder why it doesn't get more mention on /.)

Still not possible without resolution improvements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491050)

fMRI imaging of brain activity through blood flow might be useful and all, but if it's measuring in low-resolution voxels you're not going to be able to resolve specific areas of V1, 2 and 3, the three layers of the visual cortex responsible for decoding different portions of visual imput.

Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491056)

Another reason to be glad I don't have kids...

Scary (1)

wall0645 (1665631) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491092)

The future is a scary place. I'm reminded of the Dune universe, in which there are no computers because the populace rose up, overthrew their AI robot masters, and banned them. I wonder when that will happen on Earth. Anybody think some day we're not going to want this sort of technology around?

Re:Scary (1)

edraven (45764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492942)

Why would you post this sentiment online, from a computer?

Just like youtube.... (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491114)

the quality sucks. But honestly, BRAVO! Keep at it, guys!

Hey thanks Slashdot editors! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491236)

On a whim I submitted this story (as you can see I'm the submittor) with the URL and a ONE WORD summary:

"Unbelievable"

The Slashdot editors either have a sense of humor and/or they don't mind doing some background research. They produced the paragraph long summary you see above and they went to the original article to clip out sone text and pictures.

So thanks! Do you get paid? :)

Re:Hey thanks Slashdot editors! (1)

djlemma (1053860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492266)

I am glad you submitted, and glad it made it to the top. I think this is pretty incredible- the thought of one day, truly being able to see through another's eyes... And I know there are already cybernetic eyes out there, but this seems like this research could also lead to some big leaps forward in that area.

Maybe they can help out some aging astronauts [slashdot.org] , too..

Re:Hey thanks Slashdot editors! (2)

samzenpus (5) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492736)

I could be getting paid? We actually do this with a lot of stories, and you're welcome!

Result is many arguments (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491246)

While increadibly cool, I see it leading to a lot of divorces...

Man: Honey, I had this hilarous dream last night, youv'e got to watch it! *plugs himself into the tv*
Woman: Why is your secretary wearing that skimpy dress in your dream?!?!?
Man: I.. uh.. that's a weird coicidence!

Very Impressive (1)

Botia (855350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491256)

This is extremely impressive. That's better quality than I got on my first TV.

MST3K (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491314)

Isn't this the plot of Mystery Science Theater 3000?

Could be used for memories (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491420)

What's really interesting is that this theoretically also could be used to view memories.

Re:Could be used for memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491550)

Depends... are memories and dreams processed in the same area of the brain as by what is viewed by the eyes?

Re:Could be used for memories (0)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492792)

When viewed images can be reconstructed reliably, memories and dreams can probably be reconstructed using similar techniques even if they are processed in different areas of the brain. It's a shame (for the researchers) or a benefit (for people who want private memories and dreams) that recall memories and dreams can be so unreliable.

Imagine this interaction between two students, back from a holiday or vacation:

      "It's great to be back here with you! I remember going by that shop with the blue ice cream cone every day last semester! The color was as blue as your fingernails and the cone had a yellow border!"
      "Oh really? This photograph shows a different color entirely. Now that we're back on campus and almost to that shop, you can verify your memory. Look away from me for a moment and you'll see."
      "Hey! This cone isn't blue! I remember its color as an intense blue! And where's the border!? It's obvious that this paint hasn't been changed in years, and there's my little 'me+you' inscription on the brick, which is definitely NOT the blue color I remember!"

Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37491450)

Tesla had this idea way back when.

Can the same set of data be used on another person (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491742)

In other words, is the scanning that is done only valid
for the test subject, or can you now use that same data
to analyze another test subjects visual cortex ?

Re:Can the same set of data be used on another per (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491788)

The summary strongly implies that they had to calibrate it for each of the three study participants.

Re:Can the same set of data be used on another per (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37492820)

The summary strongly implies that they had to calibrate it for each of the three study participants.

Collectively or separately? :)

Amazing (1)

genner (694963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37491848)

"ERROR DATABASE CONNECTION"

I was just thinking that.....amazing.

Torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37492922)

From TFS:
"This was done by feeding 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos into the computer program..."

Torturing computers and software should be against the law.

oh my here comes the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37492932)

it will not be your lucky day when the RIAA will scan your brain while remembering a movie you saw last week

Innovative VJ technique (1)

tchi.keufte (1154325) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493058)

I see this more of an innovative VJ technique, which is cool indeed, rather than a reliable brain reader (or even vision center reader). Nevertheless, the output could be made more psychedelic, colorful and various. The idea and implementation is indeed very fun to us, IT people, because we usually love data crunching and we are enthusiastic about sci-fi, but, seriously... The title of the post is badly chosen.

Fantastic (1)

Dima202 (1262664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37493080)

This is fantastic, I hope they make further progress on this soon. This is big!

18 million seconds ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37493326)

... is 5000 hours, so why not just say that.

ohh noo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37493900)

I see the fantastic opportunity this kind of technology can give us, but I also have a couple of concerns:

        1. Can this be theoretically be done from satelites?
        2. If I record a dream and publish it on youtube, can I be held liable for copyright infringement?

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