Saturday, April 30, 2016

a living word cloud on shared drive?


wsj |  The human brain is a living word cloud, turning spoken language into intricate neural patterns of meaning that we all appear to share, new research suggests.

In research reported Wednesday in Nature, neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley created a comprehensive atlas of these patterns, showing how shades of meaning in natural speech stir the brain.

To make it, the researchers employed an imaging method known as functional MRI to identify places throughout the brain stirred by the meaning of words in stories told aloud. In the pulsed patterns of neural blood flow monitored by the imaging device, they found a tapestry of responses with narrative threads reaching into more than 100 areas in the cerebral cortex. This crinkled outer layer of the brain, containing about 20 billion neurons, plays a key role in memory, perception and awareness.

“These are maps of the meaning in language, not the words themselves,” said UC Berkeley neuroscientist Jack Gallant, a senior researcher in the study. “The brain somehow represents the concepts in this smooth gradient distributed across the brain.”