Aren’t cameras amazing? They allow you to save memories forever. But that is only if the event is happening in reality in front of you. What if there was a device that could recreate images that you have seen only in your mind, or on paper? This is the sort of technology that we didn’t know that we needed, but it may soon become a reality.

Could Technology Recreate Our Memories?

Led by Yukiyasu Kamitani, scientists at Kyoto University in Japan claim that they have utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to successfully reconstruct images seen by human brains.

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According to their paper which they have made available on bioRxiv, various photographs were presented, which they were then able to recreate pixel-by-pixel using artificial intelligence known as a deep neural network (DNN).

How Was The Study Conducted?

For the study, the scientists used three subjects (a 23-year-old female and two males aged 23 and 33). Each subject was shown photographs of things such as lions and post boxes, in addition to alphabetical letters and geometric shapes.

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An fMRI scanner was used to project the images, and each subject’s head was secured in place. Over a timespan of 10 months, each subject underwent various scanning sessions, lasting up to 2 hours each. 

What Were The Results?

The first experiment involved staring at each image for several seconds, before having a rest. The following experiment involved recalling one of the images and picturing it in their minds. By using the DNN, the scientists managed to decode the signals in the fMRI scanner and therefore create computer-generated reconstructed images of the photographs seen by the participants.

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This process was very successful for images such as DVD players, flies, and feet. On the other hand, it was not as successful for images of snowmobiles and cowboy hats. Regardless, the scientists assert that by being able to translate brain activity into photographs, this approach could offer a window into the inner world of human beings.