September 28, 2011

Reading your brains

A new study reports that fMRI machines can roughly reconstruct the images of film clips that test subjects have been viewing.

What I found interesting was that the reconstructed images, while retaining the general shape of the original, seemed to replace the details with what to me seemed like the details of another image.


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Very different indeed. Does this mean fMRI scans are faulty and cannot be trusted?

Posted by Melly Lifshitz on September 28, 2011 06:11 PM

Or does it mean that brains are faulty and can't be trusted?

Posted by Alex on September 28, 2011 08:54 PM


This new use of fMRI reminds me of very early photography. The images produced by fMRI, while imprecise, are clearly related to the images sent to the brain by the original visual stimulus. If anything, this suggests that fMRI research is deserving of further development and refinement, NOT that it is faulty and shouldn't be trusted.

Posted by Frank on September 28, 2011 09:07 PM

I am pretty certain that our brains cannot be trusted completely. Our memories frequently reconstruct events in which details are wrong.

Posted by Mano on September 28, 2011 09:15 PM

As I understand it, the details are different because the reconstructed images are not generated directly from brain scans. They start with a large corpus of stored videos, and scan the brains of people watching those videos. Then when they scan someone else's brain, they compare the results to all the baseline scans and produce a composite of the closest matches among the stored videos.

Posted by Paul Jarc on September 29, 2011 06:51 PM

I'm leery of such machine and their misuse - not for any religious "number of the beast" nonsense, but for the same reason as phones and junk mail.

Marketers try every sort of "datamining" to learn about you and target you with specific advertising - just look at the ads you see on this or any other web page, put there because the marketers can access your "cookies" and determine your habits. Those cretins are trying every method possible to take every dime they can out of your pockets.

There are suggestions that corporations want to use the GPS in phones to track and to spam people with ads - if you are near a McRotten's restaurant, you'll get a text message advertising for them. The same could happen with "mind reading" technology. I have no doubt that corporations would love to read your mind as you walk near a machine and target you with ads on nearby screens based on what they find.


Posted by P Smith on September 30, 2011 02:36 PM