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Scientists closer to visualizing dreams: Study

Scientists closer to visualizing dreams: Study
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First Published: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 58 PM IST

A special computer will decode brain activity signals from a scanner
A special computer will decode brain activity signals from a scanner
Updated: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 58 PM IST
PTI
Los Angeles: Scientists have devised a mind-reading technique which could possibly allow them to visualize someone’s dream by analyzing their brain activity with a medical scanner.
A special computer will decode brain activity signals from a scanner
Scientists in the United States led by Professor Jack Gallant of the University of California, Berkeley, have built a computer that can “decode” the brain activity signals from a scanner and match them to photographs of what a person has seen.
“Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone,” Prof Gallant wrote in journal Nature.
The study raises the possibility in the future of the technology being used to visualize scenes from a person’s dreams or memory.
“Our data suggests that there might potentially be enough information in brain activity signals measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to do this in the future... In fact, so much information is available in these signals that one day it may even be possible to reconstruct the visual contents of dreams or visual imagery,” Prof Gallant stressed.
According to experts, the technique could also be useful for understanding the mental state of a person who is in a coma. However, it inevitably raises the fear that such a technology could be used for interrogating a person for “thought crimes”.
The decoder works by analyzing the patterns of activity within the visual centre of the brain, detected by a fMRI machine as a person looks at a set of randomly-arranged photographs, one at a time.
Scientists, however, emphasized that at present the decoder can only match pictures seen by a person rather than reconstruct images visualized in a person’s head.
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First Published: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 58 PM IST