Mind Reading: Nouns

It’s interesting how much mind reading techniques have been progressing….

Two hundred years ago, archaeologists used the Rosetta Stone to understand the ancient Egyptian scrolls. Now, a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists has discovered the beginnings of a neural Rosetta Stone. By combining brain imaging and machine learning techniques, neuroscientists Marcel Just and Vladimir Cherkassky and computer scientists Tom Mitchell and Sandesh Aryal determined how the brain arranges noun representations. Understanding how the brain codes nouns is important for treating psychiatric and neurological illnesses.

“In effect, we discovered how the brain’s dictionary is organized,” said Just, the D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging. “It isn’t alphabetical or ordered by the sizes of objects or their colors. It’s through the three basic features that the brain uses to define common nouns like apartment, hammer and carrot.”

[...] the three codes or factors concern basic human fundamentals:

1. how you physically interact with the object (how you hold it, kick it, twist it, etc.);

2. how it is related to eating (biting, sipping, tasting, swallowing); and

3. how it is related to shelter or enclosure.

The three factors, each coded in three to five different locations in the brain [...]

In the case of hammer, the motor cortex was the brain area activated to code the physical interaction. “To the brain, a key part of the meaning of hammer is how you hold it, and it is the sensory-motor cortex that represents ‘hammer holding,’” [...]


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