A Japanese research team has successfully processed and displayed images directly from the human brain, they said in a study to be published in the US magazine Neuron.
While the researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have only reproduced simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to display dreams.
A spokesman for the Kyoto-based company said it was the first time that it had ever been possible to visualise what people saw directly from their brain activity, a spokesman said.
'By applying this technology, it may become possible to record and replay subjective images that people perceive like dreams,' they added.
When people look at an object, the eye's retina recognises an image that is converted into electrical signals which go into the brain's visual cortex.
The team, led by chief researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani, succeeded in catching the signals and then reconstructing what people saw.
Firstly they studied people's individual brain patterns by showing them some 400 different still images. They then showed volunteers the six letters in the word 'neuron' and succeeded in reconstructing the letters on a computer screen by measuring their brain activity.
Scientists hope eventually this software could be used to map complex dreams.
Dreaming is associated with rapid eye movement sleep although the biological purpose is still not understood. The most common recorded emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety.[via dailymail]