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Scientists are able to tell what image a volunteer was looking at 92% of the time using fMRI technology

Mindreading is something that we see often in movies and television programs. While magicians and psychics pretend to be able to read mind, the fact is that reading minds is impossible — right?

A group of scientists at the University of California in Berkeley led by Jack Gallant have developed a way to tell what someone is looking at using a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan. The researchers accomplish this feat using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to model a volunteer’s response to different types of pictures.

The two volunteers were shown various images by the researchers who cataloged their brain activity while the images were viewed. The scientists were then able to take the recorded results and identify with an impressive rate of accuracy what the volunteers were looking at when they were shown new images.

Nature reports that the volunteers were shown a series of 1750 images while their brains were monitored via fMRI scans. The researchers then showed the volunteers 120 new images they had not been shown before. Nature reports that the researchers were able to pick out which picture one of the volunteers viewed 92% of the time and with the second volunteer they were accurate 72% of the time. The researchers report on chance alone they would have chosen the right images only 0.8% of the time.

John-Dylan Haynes of the Max Planck Institute for Human and Cognitive Brain Sciences in Germany told Nature, “It’s definitely a leap forward. Now you can use a more abstract way of decoding the images that people are seeing.”

The researchers see future versions of this technology being used to diagnose and treat conditions like dementia by seeing how the brains activity changes over time or as the result of a new treatment or medication.

Gallant says that the next step for the technology is to be able to interpret what a person is seeing without having to select from a set of known images. Gallant told Nature, “That is in principle a much harder problem. You’d need a very good model of the brain, a better measure of brain activity than fMRI, and a better understanding of how the brain processes things like shapes and colors seen in complex everyday images. And we don’t really have any of those three things at this time.”

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something women dont need
By kattanna on 3/6/2008 2:01:34 PM , Rating: 5
cause they already know what us guys ARE looking at

RE: something women dont need
By Raidin on 3/6/2008 2:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
Good first post. =P

I wonder what would happen if they asked the test subjects to look at the same image, where each subject paid attention to a different aspect of the image. Would that possibly throw off the pattern?

RE: something women dont need
By judasmachine on 3/6/2008 3:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
someone did that. more men looked at the crotch, and face, whereas more women just looked at the face.

RE: something women dont need
By SlyNine on 3/6/2008 3:35:00 PM , Rating: 2
The study I seen showed more woman looking the the back area.

RE: something women dont need
By SlyNine on 3/6/2008 3:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
Cannot seem to find a link, It was on TLC, Discovery or one of those. They had told them it was a different study, put something that monitored their eye movements and where they were looking. Most people had no Idea they were constantly starring at certain people. But guys would look at the hips, and girls would look at the butts.

RE: something women dont need
By therealnickdanger on 3/6/2008 3:43:14 PM , Rating: 3
People make such interesting assumptions.

The real question is why is it considered a bad thing to ogle? She's throwing it out there to BE SEEN. Very little credit is given to men in this area. I can stare at a woman's body all day and still have a meaningful conversation with her. Just because I'm a man doesn't mean I can't multi-task. :P

RE: something women dont need
By Captain Orgazmo on 3/6/2008 6:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, everybody accuses men of ogling, but as a man, try walking around public areas with a foil wrapped cucumber stuffed down your pants...

RE: something women dont need
By SavagePotato on 3/7/2008 8:49:28 AM , Rating: 2
If you walk around with a cucumber in your pants chances are people are going to look at you and comment, "why does that idiot have a cucumber in his pants?"

Women have a bit of a have your cake and eat it too problem going on. 80% of them dress like porn stars and then still get offended when they get looked at.

I really found the hip huggers trend funny myself. Especially when you would see women that were just a little too large to be wearing hip huggers and trying to pull it off and had the hip hugger flab hangover effect going on. Even those ones get mad too "are you oogling my flab handles!?"

By Captain Orgazmo on 3/7/2008 9:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
You obviously missed the spinal tap reference...
And why would you ogle a gunt?

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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