Scientists from the University of Oregon have invented a mind-reading system that can read people’s thoughts using brain scans and then project them on a screen. That means, it allows any person to type words and phrases letter by letter, just by thinking.
According to the researchers—Bettina Sorger, Joel Reithler, Brigitte Dahmen, Rainer Goebel at Universiteit Maastricht’s Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience Department of Neurocognition—this is the first system that translates thoughts into letters in real time, allowing “back-and-forth communication within a single scanning session.”
Based on the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, involved 23 volunteers who were shown 1,000 color photos of random faces. During this session, their brains were connected to an fMRI machine that monitored their neurological activity. So was an artificial intelligence program that was aimed to read the brain activity of the volunteers and capture a mathematical description of the shown faces.
In fact, this was the phase two of the experiment as the study had one more preceding phase that involved a training session for the mind-reading AI. Its purpose was to make the program memorize the correlation between certain patterns of brain activity and certain facial features.
In phase two, with the help of the fMRI machine, the AI had to find what a face looked like based on the volunteers’ brain activity. Faces shown to the participants were completely different in the two phases of the experiment.
The data used by the mind-reading system to reconstruct faces was based on the activity in two brain areas – the angular gyrus (ANG) and the occipitotemporal cortex (OTC). The ANG is responsible for spatial awareness, memory formation, number and language processing while the OTC’ function has to do with the processing of visual stimuli.