SCIENTISTS CONVERT MENTAL I MAGES TO ACTUAL I MAGES
Picture an old friend’s face. New brainwave-reading technology could soon convert that mental image of their smile to a digital image on a computer screen. In an initial proof of concept, researchers at the University of Toronto used an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to record brain waves of study participants while they concentrated on a picture of a face. The lab could then translate the brain activity into a mirror image of the picture using machinelearning algorithms to map and then interpret patterns and small differences in the electrical signals. Similar work has been performed with room-size functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) machines. But the research group, led by psychology professor Adrian Nestor, proved the technology could be used with the far more accessible and portable EEG, which amounts to a cap of electrodes wired to a computer.
The next step, says Nestor, will be adding advanced facialrecognition software and increasing the power of the algorithms to re-create faces, and eventually memories, that aren’t directly in front of participants. The technology could act, he says, as a police sketch artist. And beyond faces, Nestor hopes to develop an EEG program that can help people otherwise unable to communicate, such as patients with ALS or complete locked-in syndrome, share images and words.
Researchers found it took the brain an average of 0.17 sec to form a picture of a face.