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UCLA neuroscientists demonstrate crucial advances in 'brain reading'
Date:12/21/2011

At UCLA's Laboratory of Integrative Neuroimaging Technology, researchers use functional MRI brain scans to observe brain signal changes that take place during mental activity. They then employ computerized machine learning (ML) methods to study these patterns and identify the cognitive state or sometimes the thought process of human subjects. The technique is called "brain reading" or "brain decoding."

In a new study, the UCLA research team describes several crucial advances in this field, using fMRI and machine learning methods to perform "brain reading" on smokers experiencing nicotine cravings.

The research, presented last week at the Neural Information Processing Systems' Machine Learning and Interpretation in Neuroimaging workshop in Spain, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is interested in using these method to help people control drug cravings.

In this study on addiction and cravings, the team classified data taken from cigarette smokers who were scanned while watching videos meant to induce nicotine cravings. The aim was to understand in detail which regions of the brain and which neural networks are responsible for resisting nicotine addiction specifically, and cravings in general, said Dr. Ariana Anderson, a postdoctoral fellow in the Integrative Neuroimaging Technology lab and the study's lead author.

"We are interested in exploring the relationships between structure and function in the human brain, particularly as related to higher-level cognition, such as mental imagery," Anderson said. "The lab is engaged in the active exploration of modern data-analysis approaches, such as machine learning, with special attention to methods that reveal systems-level neural organization."

For the study, smokers sometimes watched videos meant to induce cravings, sometimes watched "neutral" videos and at sometimes watched no video at all. They were instructed to attempt to fight nico
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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