How? Well, when you look at something, your retinas relay the image as electrical signals to your visual cortex before you can even process said images consciously. The scientists simply used an MRI machine to monitor activity in the visual cortex and, along with insanely intricate mapping software, they successfully pulled images from their minds! They showed the test subjects six consecutive letters that spelled out the word “neuron” – the name of the magazine the study was being published in – and then, using their setup, they re-interpreted the data back into the readable letters as shown below.
Because the visual cortex registers what you see, whether you realize it or not, this process also makes it possible to capture things you haven’t physically seen – like dreams or visualized imaginary scenarios – as well as things you can’t consciously recall seeing, or weren’t paying attention to – like forgotten memories or small details overlooked at the time.
So eventually, way down the line, this process could be used for anything visually based, from finding your lost keys, to recording your dreams for later examination. Why you would want to do the latter is anybody’s guess, seeing as how your dreams, if they’re anything like mine, are mostly just jumbled assortments of pop-culture idols gyrating erotically, while abstract representations of your deepest fears chase you through a hedge-maze, finally catching you because you can only run in slow motion while everything else moves in real time. …
Most of us don’t remember our dreams. It would be so cool … and possibly scary… to be able to replay them to see what you actually dreamed.