Friday, December 19, 2008

More Mindreading

No, not really. Mind reading software cannot record your dreams:
'Mind-reading' software could record your dreams

18:05 12 December 2008 by Celeste Biever

Pictures you are observing can now be recreated with software that uses nothing but scans of your brain. It is the first "mind reading" technology to create such images from scratch, rather than picking them out from a pool of possible images.

. . .

Yukiyasu Kamitani at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan [and] his team [have] used an image of brain activity taken in a functional MRI scanner to recreate a black-and-white image from scratch.

"By analysing the brain signals when someone is seeing an image, we can reconstruct that image," says Kamitani.

This means that the mind reading isn't limited to a selection of existing images, but could potentially be used to "read off" anything that someone was thinking of, without prior knowledge of what that might be.

Bah, humbug. Even worse is this news story, complete with misleading quotes from the investigators themselves:
Dreams may no longer be secret with Japan computer screen

Thu Dec 11, 12:26 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese research team has revealed it had created a technology that could eventually display on a computer screen what people have on their minds, such as dreams.

Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories succeeded in processing and displaying images directly from the human brain, they said in a study unveiled ahead of publication in the US magazine Neuron.1

While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people's minds.

"It was the first time in the world that it was possible to visualise what people see directly from the brain activity," the private institute said in a statement.

"By applying this technology, it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams."

Andrew Hires provides a hefty dose of reality, in a comment on his own post at Brain Windows:

NO. This paper does not decode dreams.

NO. It doesn’t even come close.

It’s total speculation at this point to be able to decode dreams.

However, if V1 accurately reports the visions we see while in REM sleep, then this paper, combined with the results from Kay et al, Nature 2008 does get us ONE step closer to that.

Remember, this is very low resolution reconstruction of a single visual stimulus that is fixated on for seconds. Natural visual stimuli are much more complex. Dream images likely move rapidly. Current fMRI technology is at least an order of magnitude away from natural scene reconstruction in both temporal and spatial scales.

And for an accurate summary of the paper, read his entire post, Updated: fMRI Based Visual Stimulus Reconstruction.


1 Available at newsstands everywhere.

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At January 06, 2009 6:47 PM, Blogger JLK said...

Damn. I was hoping I'd end up being the person who figured out how to do that. That sucks.

I always thought it would be really cool to record my dreams, because I find them more entertaining than the best primetime tv. So in that respect, I'm kind of disappointed that's not what actually happened.

But despite the sensationalism of the press coverage, this represents progress nonetheless!

At February 01, 2012 3:36 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

Such a great article it was which Japanese research team has revealed it had created a technology that could eventually display on a computer screen what people have on their minds, such as dreams.In which Natural visual stimuli are much more complex. Thanks for sharing this article.


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