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A rough, vivid image of the brain in motion is captured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Although this specialized kind of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has revolutionized cognitive neuroscience, it doesn’t seem a mind-reading machinery: neuroscientists are unable to peer at a brain scan and convey what a person was looking at, hearing or imagining in the scanner. However, scientists are gradually breaking through this fundamental barrier to verbalize internal experiences using brain imaging. People with disabilities, such as those who have had strokes or have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, who are unable to speak or communicate in any other way could benefit from this technology.

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Neuroscientists hope to use non-invasive methods like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand internal speech without the need for surgery, as opposed to the current brain-computer interfaces that need to be surgically implanted in the brain. By combining the capability of fMRI to track brain activity with the propensity of AI language models, researchers have now made progress. The combination technique has produced a decoder that can remarkably accurately recreate the tales that a person heard or envisioned telling in the scanner.

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Even though it was less accurate, the decoder could infer the plot of a short film that someone watched in the scanner. The decoder technology is in its infancy. It doesn’t create a perfect record of the words they heard or envisioned, and each person who utilizes it must undergo rigorous training. Yet, it represents a significant advance. Researchers now understand that the AI language system, an ancestor of the ChatGPT model, can assist in making educated guesses about the words that elicited brain activity simply by looking at fMRI brain scans. The authors stress the need for proactive policies that protect people’s privacy when it comes to their internal mental processes, even though current technological constraints prevent the decoder from becoming widely implemented, for good or bad.

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