Saturday, September 24, 2011

Brain Movies

By now this has been all over the tech blogs, but it is a pretty big deal. That is, if the implications of this technology pan out. The idea is that we can reconstruct the image of a person's mind. It would be inaccurate to somehow say the image is in a person's brain, but that's still the idea. The attempt is to visualize externally what a person is seeing while watching a movie.

Using an fMRI to measure BOLD (blood oxygen level-dependent) signals and thereby show brain activity in certain active regions of the brain they get 'hermodynamic response data'. The data can then be (re)constructed into what resembles a movie. From what I can gather, there's a time discrepancy between the speed of the movie, and the rate at which the active areas of the brain show the extra oxygenated blood. They attempt to overcome this using 'voxel' (3d pixels) models. These models use randomly selected youtube video scenes as source material to 'match up' with the information received from the BOLD signals. (that is if I'm describing this accurately).

Watching a movie made from a reconstruction of a brain's reconstruction of a movie that is then reconstructed again in another brain (as the theory goes) makes this brain think of a mirror within a mirror within in a mirror... It's a complex process. What's clear here is that this is an indirect visualization of brain signals. Aside from all the 'mind reading' speculation that comes from this technology, it's amazing they were able to get anything even remotely recognizable out of it. It'll be interesting to see where it goes, or if this is as far as this technique can go.


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