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Weirder than Real Life

emoticon:lighton Venturer posted the following as an article a few days ago. I find this sort of thing fascinating. It's about experiments done by a Japanese and American researcher. It demonstrates that it's possible (to an extent..) to tell what a person is thinking [1] about by examining their brain waves.

Between the lines

The pair showed patterns of parallel lines in 1 of 8 orientations to four volunteers. By focussing on brain regions involved in visual perception they were able to recognise which orientation the subjects were observing.

Each line orientation corresponded to a different pattern of brain activity, although the patterns were different in each person. What is more, when two sets of lines were superimposed and the subjects were asked to focus on one set, the researchers could work out which one they were thinking of from the brain images.

In a separate study, also published in Nature Neuroscience, John-Dylan Haynes and Geraint Rees at University College London, UK, showed two patterns in quick succession to 6 volunteers. The first appeared for just 15 milliseconds - too quick to be consciously perceived by the viewer.

But by viewing MRI images of the brain, the researchers were able to say which image had been flashed in front of the subjects. The information was perceived in the brain even if the volunteers were not consciously aware of it.

The study probed the part of the visual cortex that detects a visual stimulus, but does not perceive it. "It encodes what we don't see," Haynes says. He thinks that, further along the visual pathway, brain regions consciously take note that there has been a stimulus. But this does not happen for the "invisible" stimulus.

Virtual Life

So although the brain patterns caused by individual stimulus are different per person - they are consistent in the same person. This means if you know the responses of the individual, you can tell what they're looking at. There are two questions that spring to mind.

  1. Is it just an autonomic response in the visual cortex - in other words, is it just a 'reflex response' of the visual part of the brain - or is it actually linked to consciousness and perception ?
  2. By creating the response in that part of the brain (whether through ultrasonics or electrical waves or whatever) - would you experience the corresponding perceptions ? (Would you thinking you were seeing the object ?)

Whatever the answers to those two questions, it's certainly another step forward in harmonising man and machine. A computer ought to be able to tell what you are looking at and adjust what it's displaying. Bizarre.

[1]Or at least looking at.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-04-29 08:53:55 | |
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Voidspace is On the Syllabus

emoticon:noise It's always nice when people link to your website - somebody out there likes you ! Not only that, but it improves your google ranking; so even more people are likely to find their way to your corner of the World Wide Web. It's not often however, that you [1] become recommended reading for a college course.

Check out Dr Peever - Cultural Studies. Not only are a couple of pages from Voidspace part of the syllabus [2] - but it means we're officially cultural as well. Surprised

[1]Or at least it doesn't happen to me very often.
[2]See weeks 13 and 14 for the pages from Voidspace.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-04-25 12:41:30 | |
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Guests are from Mars

emoticon:exclaim Hey - today I have two pieces of good news Laughing .

First of all I've made some major improvements to my guestbook - hurrah. It now features funky smilies, it allows some html inside entries, and it also uses a piece of javascript that checks your entry is right before you send it. This is me making forays into javascript.

The second bit of good news is about Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. My avid readers [1] will remember that the copy I had for download was corrupted, a shame because it was one of the most popular books at Voidspace. Well Venturer has come to the rescue, and found an uncorrupted copy lurking in some dark corner of the internet. This means it's now available again. Two hurrahs in one day, will you all cope ? Rolling Eyes

[1]Both of them.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-04-25 11:16:47 | |


The Old Blog Archives

There was so much ancient wisdom distilled into my old blog, that I couldn't let it just creep ignominiously into the pages of cyber-history. More to the point I'm still getting some hits from google with the old entries. Here are the archives of my previous Blogger based blog.

The Old Voidspace BlogThe Old Techie Blog

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