Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Conceptual representation in the brain: Towards mind-reading?

Date:
April 17, 2014
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
Your measured brain signals can reveal whether you are thinking about an animal or a tool. That’s what neuroscientists discovered during her research, where she investigated the conceptual representation of words and objects in the human brain. This knowledge is useful for the development of tools that convert brain signals into speech.

Your measured brain signals can reveal whether you are thinking about an animal or a tool. That's what neuroscientist Irina Simanova discovered during her PhD at Radboud University, where she investigated the conceptual representation of words and objects in the human brain. This knowledge is useful for the development of tools that convert brain signals into speech.

Our memory for word meaning is compartmentalised. When you think of a non-living object like a tool, a specific population of neural cells becomes active. In contrast, when you think of something living, such as an animal, that thought is processed by a different set of neurons. Irina Simanova's examination of the neural networks behind this categorisation offers insight into how we perceive objects, understand words, and produce language.

Cat

Using EEG and fMRI, Simanova was the first to investigate whether the same neurons process different representations of one object -- an image of a cat and the word 'cat'. This proved to be true. 'This shows that there is a common neural component for images and words within one category', Simanova explains. 'That is interesting knowledge for scientists who develop tools to convert brain signals into speech.'

Predicting speech

She also tried to predict the category of a word that the test subject still had to pronounce by using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a technique that makes it possible to track the brain signal accurately in time. She succeeded in approximately 65 percent of the cases. 'A nice result, especially because this was such an explorative study. Of course, ideally we aim for 100-percent correct predictions.' Her next step is to study more objects within a single category. 'In the current study, we used very mainstream objects, for instance cats and dogs. Now I want to find out if the same principles apply for exotic species, like naked cats.'

Irina Simanova (Russia) studied Human and Brain Physiology at Moscow State University. She moved to Nijmegen for a job as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. In 2009, she started her PhD project in the Neurobiology of Language research group. She will defend her thesis on 12 May 2014, at Radboud University Nijmegen. Currently, Simanova is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour of Radboud University, within the Language in Interaction programme. This programme received a 27.6 million euro Gravitation grant (Zwaartekrachtsubsidie) in 2012.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKILkw_XfLs


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "Conceptual representation in the brain: Towards mind-reading?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140417090540.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2014, April 17). Conceptual representation in the brain: Towards mind-reading?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140417090540.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "Conceptual representation in the brain: Towards mind-reading?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140417090540.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins