A device that can 'read' the brain and produce a picture of a person's visual experience could soon become a reality. Online in Nature researchers describe a model that defines the relationship between visual stimuli and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity in early visual areas, making it possible to identify specific images seen by an observer.
Jack L. Gallant and colleagues developed receptive-field models that combine measures of orientation, frequency and dimensions of space in the brain in order to predict the novel complex natural objects being viewed by subjects. Previous studies attempting to interpret visual experiences through fMRI have only been able to decode much simpler information and required that the models be trained on the exact same set of objects that they would later be tested on.
This model-based approach to decoding brain signals could, in future, be used to track mental processes such as attention, and perhaps even provide access to the visual content of phenomena such as dreams and imagery.
Jack L. Gallant (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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