Navigation Links
Oprah, Luke Skywalker and Maradona -- new study investigates how our brains respond to them
Date:7/23/2009

Pictures paint concepts of a thousand words- now, for the first time, scientists studying the brain have worked out how words paint concepts in our minds.

The team, including Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga at the Department of Engineering of the University of Leicester in the UK, Professor Itzhak Fried at the University California Los Angeles and Professor Christof Koch at the California Institute of Technology, has published these findings in the journal Current Biology. It is published online on 23 July and in the print issue on 11 August.

The results are important for understanding how perception and memory formation occurs.

Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, head of Bioengineering at the University of Leicester, led the study which concluded that, although processing of visual and auditory information occur along completely separate pathways, the visual and auditory processing routes converge to end up firing the same single neurons.

He said: "Different pictures of Marilyn Monroe can evoke the same mental image, even if greatly modified as in Warhol's famous portraits. This process relates to one of the most fascinating questions in neuroscience: how do neurons in the brain manage to abstract and disregard irrelevant details to recognize highly variable pictures as the same person?"

Professor Quian Quiroga said various studies had provided insights into how visual information is processed in the brain. He added:

"Interestingly, in humans, the same "concept" of Marilyn can be evoked with other stimulus modalities, for instance by hearing or reading her name. Brain imaging studies have identified cortical areas in the human temporal lobe that are selective to voices and words. However, how visual, text and sound information can elicit a unique percept is still largely unknown."

The University of Leicester team in collaboration with UCLA and Caltech used presentations of pictures, spoken and written names to show that single neurons in the human hippocampus and surrounding areas respond selectively to representations of the same individual using different sensory prompts. For example a neuron responded to three pictures of the TV host "Oprah Winfrey", to her name written in the computer screen and to a computer synthesized voice saying "Oprah"; another one fired to different pictures and the written and pronounced name of "Luke Skywalker", from the classic movie "Star Wars". Another neuron fired strongly to the pictures and the written and spoken name of the ex-football star "Diego Maradona", even to a picture of Maradona in the soccer field when his face was not visible but the patient still recognized as Maradona.

They also found that such degree of abstraction in the sense that neurons fired the same to different pictures or the name of a particular person- increased along the hierarchical structure within the areas they recorded from.

Moreover, Professor Quian Quiroga found neurons responding to his own pictures and name, thus suggesting that such neuronal representations can be generated relatively fast, because he was unknown to the patient a day or two before the recording took place.

Said Professor Quian Quiroga: "These results demonstrate that single neurons can encode concepts in a very abstract way, even if evoked by different sensory modalities"

The study breaks new ground by demonstrating how neurons previously studied by the team respond not only to picture, but to written and spoken names too.

Professor Quian Quiroga said: "The processing of visual and auditory information follows completely different cortical pathways in the brain, but we are showing that this information converges into single neurons in the hippocampus, at the very end of these pathways for processing sensory information.

"This work gives us further understandings of how information is processed in the brain, by creating a high level of abstraction which is important for perception and memory formation given that we tend to remember abstract concepts and forget irrelevant details."


'/>"/>

Contact: Rodrigo Quian Quiroga
rqqg1@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Dendreon Announces Publication of Phase 1 Study Highlighting Immunologic and Clinical Activity of Lapuleucel-T (Neuvenge(R)) in Advanced Breast Cancer Patients
2. Cephalon Announces Positive Results from a Pivotal Study of FENTORA in Opioid-tolerant Patients with Non-cancer Breakthrough Pain
3. Kline Study: Better Brushing Habits Boost European Oral Care Sales
4. Evotec to Present Details of the Positive Phase II Study in Insomnia With EVT 201 at the Worldsleep07 Congress in Cairns/Australia
5. NASA study will help stop stowaways to Mars
6. New Study Findings Confirm CLEXANE(R)/LOVENOX(R) Long-Term Clinical Benefit in Patients Suffering From Acute Coronary Syndrome
7. Study Published in Clinical Cancer Research Confirms Potential Of Peregrines Bavituximab Combined With Radiation In Lung Cancer
8. Evotec Reports Details of the Positive Proof-of-Concept Phase II Study in Insomnia With EVT 201
9. Study Supports Use of GlycoMark Blood Test to Evaluate Therapy in Children with Diabetes
10. Quigley Corporation Releases Update on Quigley Pharmas Phase IIb Clinical Study of QR-333 in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
11. Biodel Inc. Announces VIAject(TM) Phase II Meal Study Data at the 2007 European Association for the Study of Diabetes Meeting
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today ... a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an ... paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 ... , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew ... escalating cost of cancer care is placing an ... result of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... on quality, regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar on ... on July 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:5/16/2016)... NEW YORK , May 16, 2016   ... authentication solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded ... provides an unprecedented level of convenience and security with ... to authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait biometrics ... of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... angles, which can be used to compute factors ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):