Neurophilosophy reports scientists at Japan's ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have achieved to reconstruct images seen by test subjects, by analyzing the activity of neurons involved in the earliest stages of visual processing.
Researchers from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan have now made a significant advance in the use of fMRI to decode subjective experiences. They report a new approach which uses decoded activity from the visual cortex to accurately reconstruct viewed images which have not been previously experienced. The findings are published in the journal Neuron.
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging to analyze the activity of the neurons involved in the earliest stages of visual processing, whilst their participants viewed a series of around 400 simple visual images, including geometric shapes and letters, during a single "training" condition. They then presented to the participants a series of completely new images, and combined the decoded fMRI signals from neurons in V1 and V2 with those from V3 and V4, all of which contain neurons that encode image contrast at multiple scales. By analyzing this activity using a specially developed algorithm, they were able to accurately predict the patterns of contrast in the novel images observed by the participants.