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Brain decoding: toward real-time reconstruction of visual perception

Yohann Benchetrit · Hubert Banville · Jean-Remi King

Halle B #240
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Wed 8 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: In the past five years, the use of generative and foundational AI systems has greatly improved the decoding of brain activity. Visual perception, in particular, can now be decoded from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) with remarkable fidelity. This neuroimaging technique, however, suffers from a limited temporal resolution ($\approx$0.5\,Hz) and thus fundamentally constrains its real-time usage. Here, we propose an alternative approach based on magnetoencephalography (MEG), a neuroimaging device capable of measuring brain activity with high temporal resolution ($\approx$5,000 Hz). For this, we develop an MEG decoding model trained with both contrastive and regression objectives and consisting of three modules: i) pretrained embeddings obtained from the image, ii) an MEG module trained end-to-end and iii) a pretrained image generator. Our results are threefold: Firstly, our MEG decoder shows a 7X improvement of image-retrieval over classic linear decoders. Second, late brain responses to images are best decoded with DINOv2, a recent foundational image model. Third, image retrievals and generations both suggest that high-level visual features can be decoded from MEG signals, although the same approach applied to 7T fMRI also recovers better low-level features. Overall, these results, while preliminary, provide an important step towards the decoding - in real-time - of the visual processes continuously unfolding within the human brain.

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