To construct their model, the researchers used an fMRI machine, which measures blood flow through the brain, to track neural activity in three people as they looked at pictures of everyday settings and objects.
As in the earlier study, they looked at parts of the brain linked to the shape of objects. Unlike before, they looked at regions whose activity correlates with general classifications, such as “buildings” or “small groups of people.”
Once the model was calibrated, the test subjects looked at another set of pictures. After interpreting the resulting neural patterns, the researchers’ program plucked corresponding pictures from a database of 6 million images.
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Image: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services