Researchers at the University of California Berkeley recently released an interactive website that demonstrates their efforts to build a semantic layout of how our brain organizes common objects and actions.
The research revealed that different people share similar semantic layouts. Also, certain objects share relationships, like humans and animals, aggregating in the same ‘semantic neighborhood.’
‘Our methods open a door that will quickly lead to a more complete and detailed understanding of how the brain is organized. Already, our online brain viewer appears to provide the most details look ever at the visual function and organization of a single human brain,’ said Alexander Huth, a doctoral neuroscience student at UC Berkeley and lead author of the paper, which was published 19 December in Neuron.
The experiment was conducted by recording, via functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) the brain activity of five researchers while they watched two hours of movie previews. The brain scans measured blood flow, voxel by voxel, in thousands of locations across each subjects brain.
30,000 locations within the cortex responded to 1,700 categories of objects and actions from the movie previews. The results were published in multidimensional maps, with similar categories labeled in similar colors.
Source: Huth, A., Nishimoto, S., Vu, A., & Gallant, J. (2012). ‘A Continuous Semantic Space Describes the Representation of Thousands of Object and Action Categories across the Human Brain’ Neuron, 76 (6), 1210-1224 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.10.014