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Human mind: Sound and vision wired through same 'black box'
Date:8/12/2009

This release is available in French.

Montreal, August 12, 2009 Sounds and images share a similar neural code in the human brain, according to a new Canadian study. In the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists from the Universit de Montral and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University explain how the same neural code in the brain allows people to distinguish between different types of sounds, such as speech and music, or different images.

Participants were recruited to undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), a non-invasive form of brain mapping used to determine how the brain recognizes different characteristics in musical instruments, words from conversations or environmental sounds. Subjects underwent an exhaustive three hours of FMRI exams to provide precise information about how the brain reacts when different sounds are played.

"It turns out that the brain uses the same strategy to encode sounds than it uses to encode different images," explains lead author Marc Schnwiesner, a Universit de Montral psychology professor. "This may make it easier for people to combine sounds and images that belong to the same object, such as the dribbling of a basketball."

The next step for the researchers is to determine exactly how the brain distinguishes between rock drum beats to the strings of a symphony or from a French conversation to an English one. "Our goal is to disentangle exactly how the brain extracts these different types of sounds. This is a step may eventually let us reconstruct a song that a person has heard from according to the activity pattern in their brain," explains Dr. Schnwiesner, who is also a member of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), a joint Universit de Montral and McGill University t
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert  

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