It’s long been a dream of science fiction that we will eventually be able to download images and memories directly from our brain. In a paper submitted by researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, it seems as though we are one step nearer realizing this goal.
Images generated by functional MRI scanners have been used for some time now to show activity in areas of the brain when a subject is given audio or visual stimuli or performs a certain task. The researchers at Radboud University have taken this concept further; a 2x2x2 mm area of the brain is digitally imaged to produce a 3D volume of pixels or “voxels” as they respond to the viewed pixilated image of a character. By taking information from the voxels it was possible to reconstruct the image viewed by the subject.
The resultant images were quite speckled and fuzzy. "After this we did something new", says lead researcher Marcel van Gerven. "We gave the model prior knowledge: we taught it what letters look like. This improved the recognition of the letters enormously. The model compares the letters to determine which one corresponds most exactly with the speckle image, and then pushes the results of the image towards that letter. The result was the actual letter, a true reconstruction."
A more powerful MRI scanner will be used to improve the resolution from 1200 to 15000 voxels in the hope to image faces.