In an article published in Nature, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands revealed the results from an experiment where they showed photos of faces to two volunteers inside a powerful brain-reading functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.
An fMRI scanner is a type of noninvasive brain imaging technology that detects brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow.
As the volunteers looked at the images of faces, the fMRI scanned the activity of neurons in the areas of their brain responsible for vision.
The researchers then fed this information into a computer’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm which could build an accurate image based on the information from the fMRI scan.
As the results of the experiment show, the fMRI/AI system was able to almost identically reconstruct the original images that the volunteers were shown.
AI researcher and a cognitive neuroscientist, Thirza Dado, who led the study, believes that these highly impressive results demonstrate the potential for fMRI/AI systems to effectively read minds in future, according to the Mail Online.
“I believe we can train the algorithm not only to picture accurately a face you’re looking at, but also any face you imagine vividly, such as your mother’s,” explains Dado.
“By developing this technology, it would be fascinating to decode and recreate subjective experiences, perhaps even your dreams,” Dado says. “Such technological knowledge could also be incorporated into clinical applications such as communicating with patients who are locked within deep comas.”
Dado’s work is focused on using the technology to help restore vision in people who, through disease or accident, have become blind, reports the Mail Online.
“We are already developing brain-implant cameras that will stimulate people’s brains so they can see again,” Dado says.