Another step forward in vision research

Reported in New Scientist if new research showing that an fMRI “can pick out brain activity associated with different images.” Unforunatley the title of the article “Mind-reading machine knows what the eye sees” will lead to the story being picked up by the regular press as yet another ‘fMRI can read your brain’ articles. I’m not sure whether they want to convey the idea that machines can know in the same way a person does or that they think this technology can recreate the image being seen but I’ll hazard a guess this is the perception that will be generated.
In summary it can’t.
What it actually can do is still quite impressive though:
“The team first used fMRI to measure visual cortex activity in people looking at more than a thousand photographs. This allowed them to develop a computational model and “train” their decoder to understand how each person’s visual cortex processes information.

Next, participants were shown a random set of just over 100 previously unseen photographs. Based on patterns identified in the first set of fMRIs, the team was able to accurately predict which image was being observed.”

Kendrick Kay has a paper in print for Nature so hopefully that will shed some light on  his work and in particular whether the model they used was general to all subjects or needs to be trained for each individual.

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