Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed a technique in which a computer models visual perception by monitoring human brain signals. In a way, it is as if the computer tries to imagine what a human is thinking about. As a result of this imagining, the computer is able to produce entirely new information, such as fictional images that were never before seen.
The technique is based on a novel brain-computer interface. Previously, similar brain-computer interfaces have been able to perform one-way communication from brain to computer, such as spell individual letters or move a cursor.
As far as is known, the new study is the first where both the computer's presentation of the information and brain signals were modelled simultaneously using artificial intelligence methods.
Images that matched the visual characteristics that participants were focusing on were generated through interaction between human brain responses and a generative neural network.
The study was published in the Scientific Reports journal in September. Scientific Reports is an online multidisciplinary, open-access journal from the publishers of Nature.
Neuroadaptive generative modelling
The researchers call this method neuroadaptive generative modelling. A total of 31 volunteers participated in a study that evaluated the effectiveness of the technique. Participants were shown hundreds of AI-generated images of diverse-looking people while their EEG was recorded.
University of Helsinki. "A computer predicts your thoughts, creating images based on them." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200921091532.htm>.