Brain imaging can reveal the movies in our mind

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have managed to reverse-engineer the motion-processing which goes on within the brain’s visual cortex.  They recorded the brain activity of volunteers watching videos and then used that recorded data to approximately reconstruct the videos they had been viewing.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips that people have already viewed.  The researchers also point out that the technology is still decades away from allowing users to read others’ thoughts and intentions, as portrayed in such sci-fi classics as “Brainstorm,” in which scientists recorded a person’s sensations so that others could experience them.  You can read more about the study in the UC Berkeley press release and at the Gallant lab website.

Here is the demonstration video they released.

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11 thoughts on “Brain imaging can reveal the movies in our mind

  1. ipi

    Dreams read by brain scanner for the first time

    …After tracking down six individuals who claimed to be able to have lucid dreams almost nightly, the team used both functional MRI scanning and near-infrared spectroscopy to observe each person’s brain activity as they clenched a hand while awake. They then compared this with the activity associated with imagining clenching the same hand, and clenching the hand in a lucid dream.

  2. Sandeep Post author

    In addition to reconstructing the visuals inside the brain, neuroscientists can now also reconstruct the audio !

    Computer Program Reconstructs Heard Words From Brain Scans

    In a new study, neuroscientists connected a network of electrodes to the hearing centers of 15 patients’ brains and recorded the brain activity while they listened to words like “jazz” or “Waldo.” They saw that each word generated its own unique pattern in the brain. So they developed two different computer programs that could reconstruct the words a patient heard just by analyzing his or her brain activity. Reconstructions from the better of the two programs (the third sound in the audio; the first sound is the word the subjects heard, and the second is the other computer program’s reconstruction) were good enough that the researchers could accurately decipher the mystery word 80% to 90% percent of the time.

    See more @

  3. Pingback: Isaac Newton, mind-reading and the scholar-gypsy | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Sandeep Post author

    Further progress on this technology

    Recent improvements in brain recording and statistical methods have given researchers unprecedented insight into the physical processes under-lying thoughts. For example, researchers have begun to show that it is possible to use brain recordings to reconstruct aspects of an image or movie clip someone is viewing, a sound someone is hearing or even the text someone is reading.

    A new study by University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University scientists brings this work one step closer to actual mind reading by using brain recordings to infer the way people organize associations between words in their memories.

    Read more @

  5. mike

    Yes, l’ve seen these sort of mind-reading devices depicted in sci-fi series like Stargate-SG1 etc… lt looks like they are becoming a reality.

    Also, l’m wondering if ‘Lucid Dreaming’ is the same thing SA and Mother call ‘being conscious in sleep’. They seem to be, except ‘lucid dreaming’ is usually a limited, short-lived experience [l’ve had quite a few over the years and they don’t seem to last very long].

  6. Sandeep Post author

    Researchers Hack Brainwaves to Reveal Bank PINs, Other Personal Data

    Don’t you dare even think about your banking account password when you slap on those fancy new brainwave headsets.

    A team of security researchers from Oxford, UC Berkeley, and the University of Geneva say that they were able to deduce digits of PIN numbers, birth months, areas of residence and other personal information by presenting 30 headset-wearing subjects with images of ATM machines, debit cards, maps, people, and random numbers in a series of experiments. The paper, titled “On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain Computer Interfaces,” represents the first major attempt to uncover potential security risks in the use of the headsets.

    Read more @

  7. Sandeep Post author

    More news on this front…

    Scientists Read Dreams

    Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep.

    A team of researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).


    Most of the dreams reflected everyday experiences, but some contained unusual content, such as talking to a famous actor. The researchers extracted key words from the participants’ verbal reports, and picked 20 categories — such as ‘car’, ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘computer’ — that appeared most frequently in their dream reports.

    Kamitani and his colleagues then selected photos representing each category, scanned the participants’ brains again while they viewed the images, and compared brain activity patterns with those recorded just before the participants were woken up.


    “This is an interesting and exciting piece of work,” says neuroscientist Jack Gallant at the University of California, Berkeley, of the work presented at the meeting. “It suggests that dreaming involves some of the same higher level visual brain areas that are involved in visual imagery.”

    “It also seems to suggest that our recall of dreams is based on short-term memory, because dream decoding was most accurate in the tens of seconds before waking,” he adds.

    Read more@

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