SEP 27, 2020 7:30 AM PDT

Computer Reads Peoples' Minds to Generate Images

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland have found a way to generate images on computers by monitoring brain signals. 

The study involved 31 volunteers. To begin, the researchers showed them hundreds of AI-generated images of different people in quick succession. In particular, they asked the participants to concentrate on specific features such as faces that looked old or were smiling. 

All the while, the participants' brain activity was recorded via an EEG and fed into a neural network. This network was able to find correlations between electrical signals in the brain and what the subjects were looking at. As such, it was then able to estimate what kinds of faces the participants were thinking of. 

To test the neural network's validity, participants were then asked to evaluate images generated by the computer on how well they matched the features they were thinking of. Overall, the participants rated the computer to have matched their thoughts 83% of the time. 

The researchers say that the technique may one day be adapted to enhance human creativity. Would someone want to draw something but be unable to do so, for example, they say that computers may be able to help them. The researchers also say that the technique could be used to understand perception and other underlying mental processes. 

"The technique does not recognize thoughts but rather responds to the associations we have with mental categories." says senior author of the paper, Michiel Spapé, "Thus, while we are not able to find out the identity of a specific 'old person' a participant was thinking of, we may gain an understanding of what they associate with old age. We, therefore, believe it may provide a new way of gaining insight into social, cognitive and emotional processes."

To take their research a step further, the researchers are now looking into whether the technique exposes unconscious associations eg. seeing whether the computer always generates images of old people as smiling men. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsNature

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
JAN 18, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
MicroRNAs May be Treatment Targets for Traumatic Brain Injury
JAN 18, 2021
MicroRNAs May be Treatment Targets for Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury, which can happen after a blow to the head, has been called a silent epidemic and is the number o ...
FEB 06, 2021
Neuroscience
Chronic Depression Linked to Reduced Support Cell Function in Brain
FEB 06, 2021
Chronic Depression Linked to Reduced Support Cell Function in Brain
Researchers from Canada have found that people with chronic depression who ultimately commit suicide have significantly ...
FEB 10, 2021
Neuroscience
Traumatic Childhood Affects Adult Brain Structure
FEB 10, 2021
Traumatic Childhood Affects Adult Brain Structure
For some time, trauma or maltreatment during childhood has been known to increase one’s risk of developing mental ...
FEB 25, 2021
Immunology
Two Immune Guardians of the Brain Discovered
FEB 25, 2021
Two Immune Guardians of the Brain Discovered
Most organ systems are protected by a cavalry of immune cells present in the circulation—but not the brain. Consid ...
MAR 01, 2021
Cardiology
How Heart Problems May Lead to Memory Deficits
MAR 01, 2021
How Heart Problems May Lead to Memory Deficits
Researchers have used a mouse model to show that heart problems can lead to disruptions in gene activity in the memory c ...
MAR 30, 2021
Neuroscience
Prolonged Amygdala Activity Predicts Personal Wellbeing
MAR 30, 2021
Prolonged Amygdala Activity Predicts Personal Wellbeing
Researchers have found that activity in the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) following exposure to negative ...
Loading Comments...