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Your Thoughts On Youtube?

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

Although this research has not yet been peer reviewed, Dr.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Science fiction fans may recall the movie The Final Cut, starring Robin Williams and Mira Sorvino. In the film, a special implant makes it possible to record the internal images that a person sees and remembers. Robin Williams is a "cutter" who provides edited versions of a person's internal images - a "rememory". Watch the movie trailer here.

See another research effort dedicated to seeing what your brain sees. From Times Online; thanks to Moira for the tip on this research.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/2/2009)

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