Imagine this: The dreams you had last night available for video replay for your enjoyment.
Sounds like something out of science fiction or fantasy?
The reality may not be just a thing of the future. A research team led by Shinji Nishimoto is developing that technology and has published his findings online in the Sept. 22 edition of the U.S.-based Current Biology scientific journal.
"We have marked a first step toward visualizing people's thoughts and other applications," Nishimoto said. "People who have difficulty in communicating because of serious brain injuries may obtain a means to express their thoughts. It may also become possible for people to watch other people's dreams."
Nishimoto, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity, or blood flow changes, in subjects watching video clips.
They modeled the relationship between the state of blood flow and the images, and created a computer program that reconstructs imagery by combining 18 million seconds (5,000 hours) of video clips.
The brain activity of three subjects was recorded as they watched movie trailers. When those records were used as input, the program produced a clip that nearly resembled the original trailers.
Images in the clip were somewhat blurred, but something like a human figure appeared in the reconstructed images from the brain when the video clip was showing one. Also, a moving black smudge appeared from the brain activity when the original scene was showing elephants walking across a desert.
The reconstructed images may be viewed at http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/
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