Reconstructing Visual Experiences from Brain Activity Evoked by Natural Movies
Shinji Nishimoto, An T. Vu, Thomas Naselaris, Yuval Benjamini, Bin Yu, Jack L. Gallant
HighlightsThe rest of the paper can be seen here. Of specific interest are the following two videos:
- A new motion-energy model can describe BOLD signals evoked by natural movies
- The model reveals how motion information is represented in early visual areas
- Speed tuning in human early visual areas depends on eccentricity
- The model provides reconstructions of natural movies from evoked BOLD signals
Quantitative modeling of human brain activity can provide crucial insights about cortical representations [1,2] and can form the basis for brain decoding devices [3,4,5]. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have modeled brain activity elicited by static visual patterns and have reconstructed these patterns from brain activity [6,7,8]. However, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals measured via fMRI are very slow , so it has been difficult to model brain activity elicited by dynamic stimuli such as natural movies. Here we present a new motion-energy [10,11] encoding model that largely overcomes this limitation. The model describes fast visual information and slow hemodynamics by separate components. We recorded BOLD signals in occipitotemporal visual cortex of human subjects who watched natural movies and fit the model separately to individual voxels. Visualization of the fit models reveals how early visual areas represent the information in movies. To demonstrate the power of our approach, we also constructed a Bayesian decoder  by combining estimated encoding models with a sampled natural movie prior. The decoder provides remarkable reconstructions of the viewed movies. These results demonstrate that dynamic brain activity measured under naturalistic conditions can be decoded using current fMRI technology.
The left clip is a segment of the movie that the subject viewed while in the magnet. The right clip shows the reconstruction of this movie from brain activity measured using fMRI. The reconstruction was obtained using only each subject's brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube video that did not include the movies used as stimuli. Brain activity was sampled every one second, and each one-second section of the viewed movie was reconstructed separately.
This video is organized as folows: the movie that each subject viewed while in the magnet is shown at upper left. Reconstructions for three subjects are shown in the three rows at bottom. All these reconstructions were obtained using only each subject's brain activity and a library of 18 million seconds of random YouTube video that did not include the movies used as stimuli. The reconstruction at far left is the Average High Posterior (AHP). The reconstruction in the second column is the Maximum a Posteriori (MAP). The other columns represent less likely reconstructions. The AHP is obtained by simply averaging over the 100 most likely movies in the reconstruction library. These reconstructions show that the process is very consistent, though the quality of the reconstructions does depend somewhat on the quality of brain activity data recorded from each subject.
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