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Innovation Of The Day: MRI Mind Reading (Round Two)

Researchers at Intel and Carnegie Mellon are taking MRI scans that map human brain activity and using sophisticated computer algorithms to decode the cognitive processes that generate the images.

In other words, actual, functional mind reading. (And you thought an airport pat-down was invasive!)

It's as of yet a crude portrait that the fMRI machines paint -- but it's technology that has both military and market applications, so it's likely to hit the growth curve fairly quickly. Here's a representative quote from one of the researchers:

In one fMRI study we trained our algorithms to decode whether the words being read by a human subject were about tools, buildings, food, or several other semantic categories. The trained classifier is 90% accurate, for example, discriminating whether the subject is reading words about tools or buildings.


This reminds me of the work being done by UC Berkeley neuroscientist Jack Gallant that I highlighted one year ago this week. Gallant is coming at the same type of findings but using slightly different, more predictive research techniques:

"...showing two lab members 2 hours of video clips culled from DVD trailers, while scanning their brains. A computer program then mapped different patterns of activity in the visual cortex to different visual aspects of the movies such as shape, colour and movement. The program was then fed over 200 days' worth of YouTube clips, and used the mappings it had gathered from the DVD trailers to predict the brain activity that each YouTube clip would produce in the viewers."

As I wrote then, I'd guess that today's "cool thing" is probably tomorrow's annoying target marketing breakthrough, and it turns out I was right -- a company called NeuroFocus is teaming up with Nielsen in Japan to use consumer brain scans to help quantify the psycho-emotional impact of advertisements.

"This is your brain. This is your brain on our campaign..."

Related posts:

Cool thing of the day: The Future Of Technology To 2050!
Cool thing of the day: BMW Augmented Reality!
Cool thing of the day: Singularity University!

TAGS: Innovation
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