Skip to main content

Researchers are using neural networks to get better at reading our minds

what is the mandela effect brain stock photo
Tatiana Shepeleva/123RF
Researchers are doing a remarkable job of scanning the human brain and extracting information that can be used for a number of important applications. Known as brain decoding, this technology could help with such things as curing some forms of blindness and controlling PCs and other devices using the brain as an input device.

One of the technologies used in brain decoding is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is able to determine brain states while certain mental functions are being carried out. An example is reconstructing visual stimulus, and a group of researchers has determined a way to extract cleaner and more accurate data, as Engadget reports.

Related Videos

Essentially, some Chinese researchers applied neural network algorithms to the process of mapping brain scan data to what a person sees. As can be seen in the illustration below, algorithms accomplish varying degrees of accuracy in recreating what a person is seeing using fMRI real-time scanning.

The researcher’s Deep Generative Multiview Model (GDDM) provides an uncanny representation of the letters being viewed by a test subject. This means that the decoding process is essentially reading the subject’s mind and displaying the results on-screen. While the technical details are incredibly complex, the overall concept is relatively simple — use neural network algorithms to make mapping real-time data vastly more accurate.

The applications for this kind of technology are mind-bogglingly exciting. While this particular research only handled the brain’s processing of simple visual data, more accurate systems could potentially handle more complex images and even video. Should the technology progress that far, then applications could be developed for using the brain to control devices, analyze dreams, and create a cure for blindness.

Future work will be aimed at perfecting the algorithms and neural networks with an eye to reconstructing dynamic vision. In addition, the researchers are looking at how to use the fMRI imaging measurements for multi-subject decoding. If they succeed, then it will not be too long before scientists can read our minds and act on that data — which is both a promising and terrifying proposition.

Editors' Recommendations

This 8K monitor has 3D tech that can be viewed from all angles
A BOE 8K display.

BOE showcased an interesting new 110-inch 8K display, which includes a new 3D technology that allows you the ability to view the monitor from all angles without the need for special glasses.

The Chinese brand revealed the display at the annual European conference ISE 2023 as a part of its lineup of enterprise displays, according to (via Wccftech). It features a QD (Quantum Dot) Mini LED backlighting, which is already a potential monitor trend for 2023.

Read more
We now know how Apple’s VR headset may handle video, and it’s pretty awesome
A rendering of an Apple mixed-reality headset (Reality Pro) in a gray color seen from the front.

Ever since the first rumors surfaced that Apple was working on a mixed-reality headset, it has been assumed that immersive video would be a key feature of the device. Yet we’ve never really known exactly how this would work -- until now.

That’s because Apple has just been granted a patent (USPTO number 11570417) that goes into detail on how a user might watch video content while wearing the headset, which will allegedly be dubbed Reality Pro. And that patent presents an intriguing system that could have uses beyond simple video.

Read more
Apple’s secret VR headset just got revealed in a huge leak
A person wearing a virtual reality headset.

Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman has revealed how Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset will work in precise detail. It’s the clearest look yet at Apple’s top-secret project -- potentially dubbed Reality Pro -- as until now we’ve had to rely on disparate rumors from various unconnected sources.

The headset will feature hand- and eye-tracking capabilities, which Gurman believes will be a “major selling point” for the device. Each user’s hand movements will be tracked by external cameras, while internal sensors will follow eye movement. As a result, users will be able to select on-screen items like apps and buttons just by looking at them.

Read more