Japanese scientists use AI to create world’s first images from brain activity

Japanese scientists use AI to create world’s first images from brain activity
via NishimotoLab
Ryan General
December 21, 2023
Japanese scientists have successfully utilized AI to vividly create images of objects and landscapes based on human brain activity for the first time. 
About the study: A team of researchers from the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST), in collaboration with Osaka University and other institutions, was able to generate mental images from human brain activity using AI via a revolutionary technology named “brain decoding,” reported Kyodo News.
The breakthrough, which was detailed in the international scientific journal Neural Networks, showcased the ability to reconstruct not only simple objects but complex images such as a leopard with recognizable features and an airplane adorned with red lights on its wings.

Quantifying brain activity: The researchers were able to generate images from participants who were first presented with 1,200 images of various objects and landscapes. Utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they analyzed and quantified the correlation between participants’ brain signals and the corresponding images. 
Powered by AI: Building on earlier studies that focused on reconstructing images limited to specific domains like alphabetical letters, the team developed a technology that quantifies brain activity, enabling generative AI to draw intricate images. This innovative technique combines predictive methods with brain activity data to recreate complex objects. Osaka University researcher Shinji Nishimoto presented the system they developed for reconstructing images using brain scans in a paper last year.
Potential applications: Beyond image generation, the researchers believe their brain decoding technology significantly advances the field of neural decoding by enabling the visualization of mental imagery. Comparing it to the use of microscopes to explore invisible worlds, QST researcher Kei Majima emphasized the historical significance of the achievement. He further noted how, for the first time, scientists have peered inside another person’s mind.
The researchers say the technology holds promise for advancements in medical and welfare fields as it presents opportunities for the development of communication devices. The technology may also be used to gain insights into the mechanisms behind hallucinations and dreams.
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