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Reading Brains

October 19, 2009

Scientists can reconstruct what a person has seen by analyzing brain scans.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Getting images out of your head. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

What if someone could look inside your mind, and see what you see? Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have basically done that. They analyzed people’s brain activity as they looked at thousands of random black and white photos. Then they developed a way to reconstruct what a person saw just from the brain scan. Neuroscientist Thomas Naselaris says their model combined the physical shape of an image with its underlying content.

THOMAS NASELARIS (University of California at Berkeley):
So that means, if the target image showed a picture of a building, you would like our construction to show a picture of a building. If the target image showed a picture of a face, we would like our construction to show a picture of a face.

HIRSHON:
Their reconstructions weren’t identical, but came remarkably close. Naselaris says an even bigger challenge is to reconstruct imagined images, which are harder to pin down in the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.