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Carnegie Mellon study identifies where thoughts of familiar objects occur inside the human brain
Date:1/2/2008

rain activation, using data collected in one part of the study, and then testing the algorithm on data in an independent part of the same study. In this way, the algorithm is never previously exposed to the patterns on which it is tested.

Another important question addressed by the study was whether different brains exhibit the same or different activity patterns to encode these individual objects. To answer this question, the researchers tried identifying objects represented in one participants brain after training their algorithms using data collected from other participants. They found that the algorithm was indeed able to identify a participants thoughts based on the patterns extracted from the other participants.

This part of the study establishes, as never before, that there is a commonality in how different peoples brains represent the same object, said Mitchell, head of the Machine Learning Department in Carnegie Mellons School of Computer Science and a pioneer in applying machine learning methods to the study of brain activity. There has always been a philosophical conundrum as to whether one persons perception of the color blue is the same as another persons. Now we see that there is a great deal of commonality across different peoples brain activity corresponding to familiar tools and dwellings.

This first step using computer algorithms to identify thoughts of individual objects from brain activity can open new scientific paths, and eventually roads and highways, added Svetlana Shinkareva, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina who is the studys lead author. We hope to progress to identifying the thoughts associated not just with pictures, but also with words, and eventually sentences.

Just, who directs the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon, noted that one application the team is excited about is comparing the activation patterns of people with neurological disorders, such as
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Contact: Anne Watzman
aw16@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-3830
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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