According to the activity of the brain, scientists were able to distinguish between an imaginary and a real picture that a person sees

(ORDO NEWS) — Japanese scientists have come to the conclusion that the activity of the brain can restore the image that we imagine. This works even if the imaginary image is different from the picture that the person is currently looking at.

Our brain perceives and processes visual information so that it can be decoded from its activity patterns recorded using electrocorticography (ECoG) or electroencephalography (EEG).

Both methods allow you to monitor the electrical activity of the brain in real time, but in the case of EEG, the electrodes are located on the scalp, and in ECoG – directly on the surface of the brain.

The picture that we see is reflected in the characteristics of the rhythms of the brain. It is known that this process depends on what particular details of the image our attention is directed to. However, until now it remained unknown whether our imagination can change the patterns of brain activity that are observed when processing visual information.

Scientists from Osaka University (Japan) have shown that the structure of brain rhythms makes it possible to distinguish between the image that a person currently imagines and the one that he actually sees. The results of the study were published in the journal Communications Biology.

The experiments involved patients with epilepsy, whose brains were already implanted with electrodes that allow them to track upcoming seizures and the localization of epileptic foci, so that scientists were able to record their electrocorticogram.

This method is much more accurate than the EEG, because it allows you to directly record the activity of the brain, avoiding interference created by the skin and bones of the skull.

In experiments, patients were shown some images and asked to mentally imagine others. All pictures were divided into three categories: landscapes, human faces and words. Analysis of the results revealed differences in the electrocorticograms of imaginary and real images.

In addition, there was a different rate of appearance of these differences depending on the category of the image that had to be presented to the subject. This is probably due to the fact that different parts of the brain are involved in the processing of words and images.

The approach proposed by the authors of the new work can be used to create communication devices for paralyzed patients suffering, for example, from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Similar devices are already being used in medicine, but they rely on motor cortex activity that comes and goes faster than visual cortex activity. Therefore, the creation of devices based on the perception of images can be a valuable medical practice.

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