Bite Sized Science: Mind Movies

By Keir Liddle

Whether or not we see and experience everything the world in the same way, do we see the same things as everyone else or is every ones experience different?

It’s a  common philosophical question and one that probably couldn’t be answered without some way that people could somehow look into each others minds or share each others thoughts. Which sounds like something out of a science fiction story but given the results of recent research at the University of California, Berkeley, at least some form of sharing experiences or philia might not be all that far off.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) researchers have managed to decode and reconstruct peoples dynamic visual experiences. In the image to the left you can see that although the image isn’t exact it is quite impressive.

As yet the technology can only be applied to reconstruct images people have already seen but the researchers think it may be able to be applied to reproducing our dreams and innermost thoughts. As Professor Jack Gallant, study co-authour states:

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

The study can be found in Current Biology and if the technology develops further than exciting times are ahead. The technology could lead to means for people such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases

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. It could also be potentially used to create interfaces so that people with cerebal palsy or paralysis can guide computers with their minds.

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