Brain Scans Reveal What You See (Sort Of)

Prepare to be terrified. Researchers at UC Berkeley have successfully lifted the veil of the human mind to pull images directly from our brains.

Using measurements of brain activity from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they’ve been able to reach into the brains of their subjects and recreate moving images of various film clips shown to them. You can see examples of this in the above video.

It’s a very complicated process with little practical use for the time being, but considering that this is even possible brings to mind visions of Minority Report (minus the premonitions), or The Final Cut (minus the memory implants).

This research may eventually lead to further medical breakthroughs in neuroscience, and allow for greater rehabilitation for stroke victims.


Image: YouTube

Looking at the above video, the images gathered from the fMRI look like something out of a horror movie, twisted visions of reality, dark Rorschach scribbles and faceless shadows.

While this is probably due to the scientists’ methods of parsing data from the brain scans and comparing them to the database (they can only be so accurate, after all), it’s still haunting to see these images reproduced through the examination of our brains.

Several of the scans seem to reveal the way our minds compare new data to old (the comparisons of images of people, for example, seem to “fill in the blanks” of facial characteristics and clothing). But again, that might be due to how the data was used.

What more will we discover about ourselves? Where will technology lead us? Are we nothing more than biological machines, automata made of flesh and bone like those in Rossum’s Universal Robots?

The ability to “see” these images through brain scans may in fact be the first step toward accessing the data in our minds like we access the data on our computers, or even to interface between the two. Or, perhaps, to record our dreams.

At a certain point, with technology becoming what it is, and our understanding of the human body expanding at an ever increasing rate, we may soon have to come to terms with what it really means to be human.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.