Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Finding thoughts in speech: How human brain processes thoughts during natural communication

Date:
June 20, 2014
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
For the first time, neuroscientists were able to find out how different thoughts are reflected in neuronal activity during natural conversations. They studied the link between speech, thoughts and brain responses.

Memory- or self-related content? The researchers analysed content-specific neural responses and observed clearly visible patterns of brain activity.
Credit: BrainLinks-BrainTools

For the first time, neuroscientists were able to find out how different thoughts are reflected in neuronal activity during natural conversations. Johanna Derix, Olga Iljina and the interdisciplinary team of Dr. Tonio Ball from the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools at the University of Freiburg and the Epilepsy Center of the University Medical Center Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany) report on the link between speech, thoughts and brain responses in a special issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

"Thoughts are difficult to investigate, as one cannot observe in a direct manner what the person is thinking about. Language, however, reflects the underlying mental processes, so we can perform linguistic analyses of the subjects' speech and use such information as a "bridge" between the neuronal processes and the subject's thoughts," explains neuroscientist Johanna Derix..

The novelty of the authors' approach is that the participants were not instructed to think and talk about a given topic in an experimental setting. Instead, the researchers analysed everyday conversations and the underlying brain activity, which was recorded directly from the cortical surface. This study was possible owing to the help of epilepsy patients in whom recordings of neural activity had to be obtained over several days for the purpose of pre-neurosurgical diagnostics.

For a start, borders between individual thoughts in continuous conversations had to be identified. Earlier psycholinguistic research indicates that a simple sentence is a suitable unit to contain a single thought, so the researchers opted for linguistic segmentation into simple sentences. The resulting "idea" units were classified into different categories. These included, for example, whether or not a sentence expressed memory- or self-related content. Then, the researchers analysed content-specific neural responses and observed clearly visible patterns of brain activity.

Thus, the neuroscientists from Freiburg have demonstrated the feasibility of their innovative approach to investigate, via speech, how the human brain processes thoughts during real-life conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Johanna Derix, Olga Iljina, Johanna Weiske, Andreas Schulze-Bonhage, Ad Aertsen, Tonio Ball. From speech to thought: the neuronal basis of cognitive units in non-experimental, real-life communication investigated using ECoG. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2014; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00383

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Finding thoughts in speech: How human brain processes thoughts during natural communication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620103127.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2014, June 20). Finding thoughts in speech: How human brain processes thoughts during natural communication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620103127.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Finding thoughts in speech: How human brain processes thoughts during natural communication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140620103127.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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