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.

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.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
How to tell if your webcam has been hacked
Razer webcam sitting on top of a monitor.

Having your webcam hacked is a terrifying prospect for many -- and a good reason to use a dedicated webcam cover. Not only does it represent an incredible invasion of privacy, but it has the potential to grab biometric data and other personal information that could be used to further expose you and steal your identity.

Often a hacked webcam is just part of a comprehensive malware assault, though, so protecting yourself against it involves having some of the best antivirus protection you can, while keeping your system updated. Even with robust protections in place, though, you should always keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of a hacked webcam. Here's what to look out for.
The light on your webcam turns on at strange times

Read more
How to cancel a Twitch subscription on desktop or mobile
The Twitch desktop app.

There comes a time in every online gamer’s life when one must move on from platforms once cherished. Beyond PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass, one of the premiere gaming content meccas is Twitch. Built from the ground up to give players the world over a community forum to live-stream through, it’s the kind of content hub that’s great when you want it, but maybe one of the first things you want to walk away from when you’re taking a break from your PC and consoles.

Read more
How I unlocked the hidden modes of DLSS
dlss hidden modes dt respec

Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) has become a mainstay in modern PC games. We all know about the basic presets to choose from in games that set the quality level and tip the scales toward performance or image quality.

But under the surface, there are a range of hidden presets that make DLSS behave in different ways. These are how developers tweak how DLSS reacts to a given input resolution and specific game content. They aren't meant to be user-facing, but a clever mod allowed me to open up the hood of DLSS and get my hands dirty. Not only do these hidden presets provide far more customization,  but they also reveal how DLSS really works.
Meet DLSSTweaks

Read more