There’s a new algorithm that can read your brainwaves to reconstruct your thoughts.

“I could read your mind, and I know your story; I could see what you think, yeah eh!”

Are you a Celine Dion fan? She’s a great singer indeed, but we’re not concerned with her vocal abilities; we’re wondering if she’s a psychic or a scientist as well. Whatever! What if we could really read people’s minds and see what they were thinking — like that would be awesome. (Caution: Privacy Alert!) Could this be possible? Science, as usual, can help provide some answers. Scientists have now created an algorithm that can reconstruct what you’re seeing by reading your brainwaves. Like we said… !

Related media: What Do Different Brainwaves Mean?

 

Hey There, I Can Now Read Your Mind

There’s an episode of “Black Mirror” where an insurance agent investigating a hit-and-run interviews witnesses with a device that reads their minds, and replays their memories on a computer monitor. Thanks to scientists at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, now, their new development can give us a hope of having the real thing working better than what’s depicted on TV. In fact, this isn’t even the first time scientists have pulled off such a stunt by peeping into people’s minds to see what the heck they were thinking about.

 

How To Read Someone’s Mind

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Image: University of Toronto | Dan Nemrodov (left) and Prof. Adrian Nestor (far left) developed an algorithm that harnesses brainwave data into perceived images.

In a 2016 research, scientists did just that by scanning people’s brains using an Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine. In this breakthrough research, you’re required to lie down and stay very still inside an fMRI machine for minutes on end while it scans your brains for pulses and circulating blood pressure. But the new breakthrough research just requires you to put on a special Electroencephalogram (EEG) cap, which uses electrodes to analyze your brainwaves. The new research was later published in the journal eNeuro.

For the research, each participant was required to wear an EEG cap and was asked to look at a variety of faces. The EEG cap and monitoring device then recorded their cerebral activity. The new machine-learning algorithm later then analyze their brainwaves to actually reconstruct the image from the perceptions in the participants’ mind. Now that sounds like a freaking experiment in a mad scientist’s lab. Spooky!

Here’s what the new algorithms created:

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Image: University of Toronto | Sample images from EEG-based face-space reconstruction of brainwaves of the experiment.

The EEG has other benefits, too. Adrian Nestor, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, and the team’s led researcher whose lab the new technology was developed, had this to say:

“fMRI captures activity at the time scale of seconds, but EEG captures activity at the millisecond scale, … So we can see with very fine detail how the percept of a face develops in our brain using EEG.”

 

Can You Now Guess My Thoughts?

The reconstructed images aren’t exactly high-definition (HD), but at least, that’s an amazing breakthrough. The team’s next challenge is to try and reconstruct images not just only from images someone’s currently seeing, but also from their imagination as well, using the EEG. That’s surely not an easy task.

“It could provide a means of communication for people who are unable to verbally communicate,” Nestor says. “Not only could it produce a neural-based reconstruction of what a person is perceiving, but also of what they remember and imagine, of what they want to express.”

And, of course, this sounds like a really “Big Deal” for law-enforcement agencies. In the event of a crime, the EEG could tap into the suspect’s or witness’ mind and reconstruct whatever they saw. Instead of relying on forensic artists and police lineups. Who the heck would even need security camera footage for — the cops will now “literally” read your mind.

 

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Mar 10, 2019.

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