May 7, 2023

AI plus MRI yields the ability to recognize what the mind is hearing

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, mobile phones, robotics/AI

We have various ways of seeing what the brain is up to, from low-resolution electrodes that track waves of activity that ripple across the brain, to implanted electrodes that can follow the activity of individual cells. Combined with a detailed knowledge of which regions of the brain are involved in specific processes, we’ve been able to do remarkable things, such as using functional MRI (fMRI) to determine what letter a person was looking at or an implant to control a robotic arm.

But today, researchers announced a new bit of mind reading that’s impressive in its scope. By combining fMRI brain imaging with a system that’s somewhat like the predictive text of cell phones, they’ve worked out the gist of the sentences a person is hearing in near real time. While the system doesn’t get the exact words right and makes a fair number of mistakes, it’s also flexible enough that it can reconstruct an imaginary monologue that goes on entirely within someone’s head.

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