Things get really awesome in Figure 4. They had patients imagine an image/symbol that that they would then try to reconstruct from fMRI signals. They had a few successes and were able to operate at better than chance when humans evaluated the reconstructed shapes. That's awesome!
btw, pycortex from his lab is out on GitHub...neat to play around w/ if you have the fMRI data
Or is it possible to train it once and then apply it to any random person?
Most thoughts are more fleeting than this, and couldn't be read with fMRI. So there's no need to get /too/ concerned about the privacy of our thoughts. Not yet :)
> Each imagery block consisted of a 4-s cue period, an 8-s imagery period, a 3-s evaluation period and a 1-s rest period.
This isn't "simple minded" it's just how brains work, and the alternative of having to actively think about a word to remember what it means, would be much slower.
I want a better neural GPU!
A more invasive approach was this: "Reconstruction of Natural Scenes from Ensemble Responses in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus" (1999).
What is a bit concerning are the applications, e.g: forcibly extracting thoughts from non-collaborating people.
Brain map http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/227498-uc-berkeley-team-b...
3d-printing by thought http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130613-3d-printing-your-th...
Brain computer interface for controlling a Hex Bug and painting tools https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenBCI
Typing by thought https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/bionics/fa...
You give the brain a set of images to fit/train the original model.
Then you show the brain a set of images similar to the ones used to train the model.
... you will never really understand what the brain sees in novel situations unrelated to the training task.
In my experience, barely any labs have the know how to implement them in a performative manor to pull something like this off whereas a lot of the fmri software is made from the manufacture (GE, Siemens, etc) that transforms the raw data into the voxels that were used in this setup.
But keep in mind here, using eeg (and beamforming) is still way cheaper and accessible than any fmri machine, though as far as having the skills to implement such, I think it is out of the reach of most labs who do this sort of research.
Electrodes are even getting better wrt cost and actual ease of real world usage (dry/non gel needed/comfort).