Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published online today (Sept. 22) in the journal Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Eventually, practical applications of the technology could include a better understanding of what goes on in the minds of people who cannot communicate verbally, such as stroke victims, coma patients and people with neurodegenerative diseases.

And if you dream of doing ____, the pre-crime police can lock you up? Guess this means the tin foil hat folks are just ahead of their time.

For those of you too young to understand the dream police and Cheap Trick reference, click here.




  1. N74JW says:

    Creepy, but hardly conclusive. Mental floss.

  2. Cig Freud says:

    Pre-requisite technology for total mind control. When will this be available in 3D?

  3. two to the head says:

    It’s a miracle! I saw jebus at 21 seconds.

  4. dadeo says:

    Cool! A more colorful lie detector. No more boring graphs..

  5. TThor says:

    What will you do if we let you go home,
    And the plastic’s all melted,
    And so is the chrome?
    WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE?

    What will you do when the label comes off,
    And the plastic’s all melted,
    And the chrome is too soft?

    WAAAAHHHHHH!
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    I think I’m going to die . . .
    I think I’m going to die . . .
    I think I’m going to die . . .
    I think I’m going to die . . .
    I’m gonna die . . .
    I think I’m going to die . . .
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    I’m going to die . . .
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    I think I’m gonna die . . .
    Going to die!

    WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE?

    What will you do if the people you knew
    Were the plastic that melted,
    And the chromium too?
    WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE?

    - Mothers of Invention, “Freak Out” 1966

    And reading this stuff about image tapping I am really freaked out!

  6. Uncle Patso says:

    As a kid I read a comic strip in which they watched the dreams of one of the characters by looking through a telescope pointed into the ear of the dreamer. This should be good source material for comic books and other Surrealist media. It is unlikely to have any other real world applications.

  7. jdmurray says:

    #7 This kind of stuff always begins with a research scientist reading about the concept in a sci-fi story and thinking to him/herself, “Hey, I could get a grant to research that!”

  8. Pierre Larsen says:

    #7

    What about:

    1) Using dreams to create weird and maybe interesting movies – Hollywood will be out of business
    2) Creating porn on a budget ;-)
    3) Converting books to movies
    4) Converting comics to movies
    5) The teacher can embarrass daydreaming kids by projecting their daydreams on the big screen in class
    6) Finally we may be able to understand women (my personal take on that is, that if we were to watch what goes on inside a woman’s head – we would go mad)
    7) If it can be used on humans then also on animals. What do they think?
    8) If we can read visual input – maybe we can create input directly into the visual cortex – per USB 3.0? We can finally get rid of 3D glasses…
    9) True telepathy would then not be far away. Big brother will finally rule…

    People with a good imagination able to create amazing fantasies (all kids and a very few adults) will earn big money…

  9. admfubar says:

    sounds like an episode of the old max headroom show..
    or part of the a main story line in “The Lathe of Heaven”

  10. Mitch says:

    I see the top of the head/eyes of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns on this head…. That image is the first thing I saw when I looked at this, not the bird to the left. (Not trying to be a crackpot, I know the human brain is conditioned to recognize human features so we gravitate to that in we see human figures in odd shapes and pancakes…)

  11. mentor972 says:

    So, why are there a bunch of web addresses and junk in the video to the right?

  12. seetheblacksun says:

    May I call bullshit?

  13. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Patso came close. Blacksun on the head, so I can only repeat: BS.

    but now, I’ll look at the video and links==but there ain’t nothing that will even nudge me towards visualization of thoughts. MRI and tell if you are lying? Yes, thats possible and needs to be worked on.

    Telescope on the ear. Yes indeedie. While I missed that show, I’ve seen about 10 movies where transplanted eyeballs or hearts give the new owner all kinds of psychic BS.

    BS–different and the same at the same time. Kinda like shovel ready and the mere coincidence that Solyndra goes bankrupt within 2 years of its .5 Billion Tax Payer Loan or Bachman saying every American should keep all their money as free people should while Perry fumbles with the lock on his own suitcase.

    Ha, ha. Yes, its all BS.

    And Sunday is day after tomorrow.

  14. bobbo, are we Men of Science, or Devo? says:

    Watched the video, read the link, didn’t go to the website.

    Why only movie trailers? Whats up wid dat???? No goat f*cking? No Jeebus on Toast? Why not?

    Pull my finger.

  15. Animby says:

    Two things if it becomes a reality:

    1) The porn industry will be the first to exploit it

    2) The TSA will be second

  16. Allister Hennesley III says:

    The brain is basically just a massive network of electrical and chemical signals right? It may be a long ways off, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we learn how to interpret those signals digitally.