Although this might sound a little off, we’re serious about it: what does a monkey brain see? And how can it recognize familiar faces (or not)? Scientists at Harvard also posed themselves this question and started quite a weird experiment. But what did they find out?
What the scientists at Harvard did was to connect a monkey’s brain to a neural net. Then, they wanted to stimulate various individual neurons that were in charge of recognizing faces. They did so by showing the animal multiple images generated by the AI. What’s more, the AI in its turn learned how to trigger the individual neurons without stimulating other neighbors.
However, if we were to look at the images, they are quite of nightmarish. They vaguely resemble faces or some other familiar shapes. Furthermore, this also gives us an insight into how the AI gains more and more access to our biological brain.
More about the Algorithm
The algorithm used for analyzing the monkey’s brain is called XDREAM. Basically, it works by morphing new images depending on the intensity of the neuron response to the previous stimuli. This information was available following some various research that was shared online at the beginning of 2019.
New pre-print on #bioRxiv 'Evolving super stimuli for real neurons using deep generative networks'. With @HombreCerebro, @WillXiao1, @Till_S_Hartmann, @gkreiman, and @mlivingstonehms https://t.co/OZMhiPllK1 pic.twitter.com/iTaI4nBEcE
— Peter Schade (@peterfschade) January 18, 2019
Carlos Ponce, a neuroscientist, declared for The Atlantic that the images they got were in fact what cells are dreaming about. It is, in fact, some sort of visual vocabulary of their brains, not touched by the anthropomorphic influence.
Finally, the monkey’s neurons responded to pictures of objects, and so helped scientists identify the cells in charge of identifying real-world objects. The blurry images also included vague depictions of other monkeys in the lab, a human caretaker at the lab, but there were also plenty of blots and streaks of color that couldn’t be correlated with actual objects or people.
Cameron Bravo was born and raised California. He has written for Buzz Feed and KMAX-TV, In regards to academics, Cameron earned an arts degree from the Sacramento State. Cameron covers local news and culture stories here at Swerd Media.