California scientists have found a way to see through another person's eyes.
Researchers from UC Berkeley were able to reconstruct YouTube videos from viewers' brain activity -- a feat that might one day offer a glimpse into our dreams, memories and even fantasies.
"This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery," said Jack Gallant, professor of psychology and coauthor of a study published today in Current Biology. "We are opening a window into the movies in our minds."
Gallant's coauthors acted as study subjects, watching YouTube videos inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine for several hours at a time. The team then used the brain imaging data to develop a computer model that matched features of the videos -- like colors, shapes and movements -- with patterns of brain activity.
"Once we had this model built, we could read brain activity for that subject and run it backwards through the model to try to uncover what the viewer saw," said Gallant.
Subtle changes in blood flow to visual areas of the brain, measured by functional MRI, predicted what was on the screen at the time -- whether it was Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau or an airplane. The reconstructed videos are blurry because they layer all the YouTube clips that matched the subject's brain activity pattern. The result is a haunting, almost dream-like version of the video as seen by the mind's eye.
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