Before its news: UC Berkeley researchers decode and reconstruct dynamic visual experiences, in this case Hollywood movie trailers
Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one's own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.
The approximate reconstruction (right) of a movie clip (left) is achieved through brain imaging and computer simulation.
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people's dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers. As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.
"This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery," said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study to be published online Sept. 22 in the journal Current Biology. "We are opening a window into the movies in our minds."
Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases.
Mind-reading through brain imaging technology is a common sci-fi theme … Reconstructing movies using brain scans has been challenging because the blood flow signals measured using fMRI change much more slowly than the neural signals that encode dynamic information in movies, researchers said. For this reason, most previous attempts to decode brain activity have focused on static images. "We need to know how the brain works in naturalistic conditions," he said. "For that, we need to first understand how the brain works while we are watching movies."