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.

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.

researchers use neural network algorithms for more accurate brain scans scan study

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.


Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Is 5G as fast as they’re saying? We break down the speeds

We take a look at the kinds of speeds you can expect from 5G when the networks roll out. Find out 5G compares to the last generation of network technology, what the minimum and maximum speeds will be, and what it means for us.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.

Want a Dell laptop with an RTX 2060? Cross the new XPS 15 off your list

The next iteration of Dell's XPS 15 laptop won't come with an option for an RTX 2060, according to Alienware's Frank Azor. You could always opt for a new Alienware m15 or m17 instead.

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.
Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?

Here's how to convert a Kindle book to PDF using your desktop or the web

Amazon's Kindle is one of the best ebook readers on the market, but it doesn't make viewing proprietary files on other platforms any easier. Here's how to convert a Kindle book to PDF using either desktop or web-based applications.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Product Review

Origin's Chronos PC is no looker, but it plays games with eye-popping detail

The Chronos is Origin’s smallest PC, but while it occupies less space than most A/V receivers, it delivers the power of a much larger desktop. Its dull exterior design does the system a disservice. Once you turn it on, you won’t be…

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.

How good are you at spotting phishing scams? Take this quiz to find out

Are you able to discern between a legitimate email and one that's a scam designed to phish for your personal information? Google created an online quiz with tips to help you better understand phishing so you don't become a victim.

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.