London - Scientists have created a machine with the potential to read our dreams while we sleep. It is so powerful that it can extract images from the brain and display them on a screen, researchers say.

Data from the brain scanner has already been used to detect and reconstruct images of faces people are thinking of.

It is believed the technology could be used in the future to reconstruct images from people’s memories, imagination and dreams and possibly to collect images of criminals from the mind of witnesses.

Alan Cowen, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “Our methods yield strikingly accurate neural reconstructions of faces. This represents a novel and promising approach for investigating face perception, but also suggests avenues for reconstructing ‘offline’ visual experiences – including dreams, memories and imagination.”

Six volunteers were shown 300 faces while they lay inside an MRI scanner and scientists analysed how their brains responded to different facial features.

When they had compiled a database of responses, they showed the volunteers a new set of faces and measured their reaction to each image.

By comparing the second responses to the database, they were able to reconstruct the image being looked at.

The research is based on a theory that thoughts and feelings are merely a complex pattern of chemical reactions. - Daily Mail