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Scientists use brain imaging to create pictures from thoughts

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A recent article by Maxim Lott on Fox News claims that scientists can determine who people are thinking about by using brain scanners to create the images of their faces.

Their conclusion is based on a study in the journal NeuroImage entitled Neural portraits of perception: Reconstructing face images from evoked brain activity. The study was conducted by New York University professors, Brice A. Kuhl and Marvin M. Chun and Alan Cowen, a University of California Berkeley graduate student.

With participants hooked up to an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanner, scientists could detect brain activity by measuring a person’s blood flow. They then used the brain scans to create the faces that participants were seeing in their mind. In other words, the faces were reconstructed from each person’s thoughts.

Although the faces appear blurry, they closely resemble actual pictures. As well, most of the images revealed whether the person was smiling or not and detected the person’s skin color. However, there was difficulty showing a person’s hair color (only 50 percent right) and only about two-thirds got the gender correct.

Cowen noted, “There’s definitely room for improvement.” He added that the resulting study was recently published even though the experiments took place two years prior. Meanwhile, work in this area has been ongoing with “more sophisticated mathematical models so the results should get better,” he noted.

Also the images were created from the thoughts of six different volunteers.
The resulting images, he said, reflect what a subject’s brain perceives and this can differ from person to person.

However, he hopes that eventually, new brain imaging technology can lead to the use of the scans to not only reflect what people see in dreams and further understand mental disorders but also to solve crimes.

Those possibilities “could be 10, 20 years away,” Cowen said.

Source: We know what you’re thinking. Scientists find a way to read minds (The site also shows some of the images)

Other News:

New maps may hold clues to brain mysteries

Brain structures and their functions

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