In an intriguing experiment, scientists were able to determine what can possibly stimulate each of the neurons of the brain. Based on the AI-generated images, these could be beyond what the normal eyes perceive.
In spite of the scientific progress, there's much more to learn about the body. These include the factors that stimulate every neuron of the brain, especially in its visual cortex.
Before, finding the answer was difficult. The possibilities are infinite. Today, using a machine with deep learning abilities can change that.
Seeing Abstract Images From The Monkeys
To answer the question, researchers inserted electrodes into the inferior temporal cortex of the monkeys. This is the part of the brain that can identify objects. The entire setup then linked into a computer.
This machine had an artificial intelligence algorithm called XDREAM. It can adjust the images depending on the responses of the targeted neurons.
At first, the monkeys showed almost nothing: the images were shapeless and gray. Gradually, as the individual neurons began to fire and react to the pictures the monkeys saw, scientists detected some forms and colors.
For example, they noticed a red patch, which closely resembled that of a collar worn by another monkey. There was also a photo of what looked like a person with a white mask. Scientists assumed it was Diane, the animals' caretaker.
Images of faces of monkeys also stimulated some of the neurons. In the end, however, the monkey's brain seemed to favor abstract, bizarre images, some of which already bordered to being creepy.
"This led to the evolution of rich synthetic images of objects with complex combinations of shapes, colors, and textures, sometimes resembling animals or familiar people, other times revealing novel patterns that did not map to any clear semantic category," the researchers wrote in a study published in the journal Cell.
To further ensure there's no personal bias when interpreting these pictures, the scientists then used another algorithm to confirm what they saw as face-like really looked like real faces than those in the natural photos.
Understanding The Workings Of The Visual Brain
Scientists don't know why the monkey's brains generated these types of abstract and sometimes uncomfortable images.
It may be because the brain's visuals are more complex than people originally thought. They also learned that the brain's preferred stimuli may rely on experiential learning.
While the experiment proved successful on the monkeys, how will it go with the humans? They plan on working with people with epilepsy whose brains can still be accessed.