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    They Can "See" Your Dreams?
    Scientists develop software that can map dreams
    || The secret world of dreams has been unlocked with the invention of technology capable of illustrating images taken directly from human brains during sleep. ||

    image courtesy of GETTY

    A team of Japanese scientists have created a device that enables the processing and imaging of thoughts and dreams as experienced in the brain to appear on a computer screen.

    While researchers have so far only created technology that can reproduce simple images from the brain, the discovery paves the way for the ability to unlock people's dreams and other brain processes.

    A spokesman at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories said: "It was the first time in the world that it was possible to visualise what people see directly from the brain activity.

    "By applying this technology, it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams." The scientists, lead by chief researcher Yukiyaso Kamitani, focused on the image recognition procedures in the retina of the human eye.

    It is while looking at an object that the eye's retina is able to recognise an image, which is subsequently converted into electrical signals sent into the brain's visual cortex.

    The research investigated how electrical signals are captured and reconstructed into images, according to the study, which will be published in the US journal Neuron.

    As part of the experiment, researchers showed testers the six letters of the word "neuron", before using the technology to measure their brain activity and subsequently reconstruct the letters on a computer screen.

    Since Sigmund Freud published The Interpretations of Dreams over a century ago, the workings of the sleeping human mind have been the source of extensive analysis by scientists keen to unlock its mysteries.

    Dreams were the focus of a scientific survey conducted by the Telegraph last year in which it was concluded that dreams were more likely to be shaped by events of the past week than childhood traumas.


    Scientists Extract Images Directly From The Brain

    Researchers from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person’s mind and display them on a computer monitor, it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other people’s dreams while they sleep.

    The scientists were able to reconstruct various images viewed by a person by analyzing changes in their cerebral blood flow. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the researchers first mapped the blood flow changes that occurred in the cerebral visual cortex as subjects viewed various images held in front of their eyes. Subjects were shown 400 random 10 x 10 pixel black-and-white images for a period of 12 seconds each. While the fMRI machine monitored the changes in brain activity, a computer crunched the data and learned to associate the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.

    Then, when the test subjects were shown a completely new set of images, such as the letters N-E-U-R-O-N, the system was able to reconstruct and display what the test subjects were viewing based solely on their brain activity.

    For now, the system is only able to reproduce simple black-and-white images. But Dr. Kang Cheng, a researcher from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, suggests that improving the measurement accuracy will make it possible to reproduce images in color.

    “These results are a breakthrough in terms of understanding brain activity,” says Dr. Cheng. “In as little as 10 years, advances in this field of research may make it possible to read a person’s thoughts with some degree of accuracy.”

    The researchers suggest a future version of this technology could be applied in the fields of art and design — particularly if it becomes possible to quickly and accurately access images existing inside an artist’s head. The technology might also lead to new treatments for conditions such as psychiatric disorders involving hallucinations, by providing doctors a direct window into the mind of the patient.

    ATR chief researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani says, “This technology can also be applied to senses other than vision. In the future, it may also become possible to read feelings and complicated emotional states.”

    image courtest of

    The research results appear in the December 11 issue of US science journal Neuron.

    (thanks to LED for the second article)

    What do you think are the pros/cons of this reasearch? Any problems with it?

    Sat, Dec 13, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: dreams
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         Sat, Dec 13, 2008  Permanent link
    I remember seeing in high school psychology class a video of researchers looking at the visual cortex of a cat (They have more resolute vision than most animals) with a web-like pattern that flashed in front of it being reproduced. That video was from way back in the 1970's, I think.

    What I remember asking the teacher is this: If it's just electromagnetic radiation, then isn't mind-reading at a distance possible?

    Hell, you can already do it to computer monitors. I'm in a bit of a rush so I can't provide links, but google up "van eck phreaking", TEMPEST (government research into the matter), and TEMPEST for Eliza (*nix app where you can make a little tune on an AM radio next to a monitor, which provides the signal)
    chronman     Sun, Dec 14, 2008  Permanent link
    This will be another great advancement made in neuroscience.

    As far as practicality, its highly inefficacious -for now-.

    As was indicated, its quite unresourceful because one must perform extensive analysis/computing for each and every individual. Its quite difficult to begin to quantify more complex and quickly occuring brain patterns in itself, and beyond that, the only thoughts which can be quantified will be the ones which were previously screened.

    Subject thought is the biggest set-back for this sort of tech; though in the future, it won't prove to be as significant a problem.

    There isn't much anyone should fear because thoughts which existed in your mind prior to being screened, nor will it be able to keep up with the rapid and abstract thought patterns that take place in ones head every few seconds.

    What they did was essentially code the computer to identify vague markers of that specific brain pattern which is associated with the image.

    Another thing which must be noted is that they compute patterns taking place primarily in primary visual cortex/straite cortex, its a completely different thing to measure the more clouded mental images of the secondary visual cortex -which is active during dreaming/visualization-.


    - Marked advancement for neuroscience
    - More insight into the mechanism of the brain and how they can be deciphered/manipulated
    - Platform for many future advancements
    - As mentioned, potential treatment for a few disorders


    - Capacity to become intrusive.

    It might appear to be a significant threat to privacy, but there isn't really much to worry about. One would have to be an extremely important figure to someone for their interest your thought-patterns to outweigh the significant degree of effort required to code for primitive stimuli.

    [What I remember asking the teacher is this: If it's just electromagnetic radiation, then isn't mind-reading at a distance possible?]

    It isn't a bad question, this can maybe be achieved in the future. But it would be an extremely uneconomical and unfruitful endeavor.

    The greatest obstacle would likely be the physical properties of the waves, more specifically, wave interference. The EM radiation is also relatively low energy, tech which can detect these emissions efficiently would have to be developed.
    Self-Evolving     Tue, Jan 20, 2009  Permanent link
    Is the "holiest of holies" going to then be directly subject to authority?

    For, if one can get literally inside the mind of a person for seemingly innocuous reasons, what is to stop say the FBI, corporations, or a new age of criminals (e-criminals) from doing this as well to serve out their own harmful agendas...perhaps on more than an individual scale?

    Although the following question is a moot point because these technologies will arrive sooner than later, no matter what we think, it must be asked:

    Is it really worth giving up and irreparably tainting what is the last and most unequivocally sanctified space, our personal space - Mind Space - to be able to record and watch your dreams for entertainment, or to help some schizophrenics find stability, or to even help solve some serious crimes from time to time?

    I don't think so.

    But, again, since this is almost definitely going to happen, I predict at first grave "human rights abuses of the mind" will occur for an extended period of time, noticeably undermining social stability. It won't be until power structures and people get it out of their systems, a whole new set of "Mental Laws" is firmly established, and we collectively see the grave error of our ways, that we will become the developed entities who possess an unsurpassed level of understanding of ourselves individually and as a species to bring us into the next grand phase of human evolution....or maybe not.