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Science

How the Brain Organizes Everything We See 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-uses-microsoft-access dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a UC Berkeley news release: "Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings."

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How the Brain Organizes Everything We See

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  • Didn't see the 'Velocorapter' voxel. The one for 'American Bison' was pretty easy to spot however (whatever the hell that means).

    Interesting, still trying to figure out where Rule 34 fits.

    • Wouldn't it be far more interesting to see what the question is behind the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
      And when found, can someone tell this to the mice? All the skull-cracking and what not, is not funny at all when your name is Arthur Dent!
      Oh, wait.
      What?
      He is now a hobbit?
      That confuses me!
  • one small step for a university, one huge leap for our roadmap towards simulating a brain. Another one recent example of our progress in this was the Spaun brain model ( a small one that is, IIRC 12million neurons ) which was featured on slashdot as well, and also the older blue brain project http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/ [bluebrain.epfl.ch]

    I can't wait for the moment ( within 20 years hopefully ) when we will have a full human brain simulation. the possibilities from that point are endless. Maybe our last invention!
    • I don't have a cite handy, but I have heard that in 20 years we'll be able to download the contents of the brain. And you thought you had to worry about google spying on us.
      • Re:very interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by narcc (412956) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:22PM (#42391893) Journal

        I have heard that in 20 years we'll be able to download the contents of the brain.

        I heard that 20 years ago.

        It was just as ridiculous then as it is now. After all, more than 30 years ago it became unreasonable to assume that AGI by algorithmic means was even possible.

        I can't wait for the moment ( within 20 years hopefully ) when we will have a full human brain simulation.

        Talk to me in 20 years, let me know how that works out.

        • I may not be around in 20 years, so while probably not twenty, we are on that road. Here's a couple of links... http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/05/23/brain.download/ [cnn.com]

          http://www.gizmag.com/avatar-project-2045/23454/ [gizmag.com]

        • After all, more than 30 years ago it became unreasonable to assume that AGI by algorithmic means was even possible.

          Wait, when was it ever shown that AGI by algorithmic means is impossible? What other method would the brain use to do things if not an algorithm?

          You are right about the brain downloading though. Even if it is conceivable that we could possibly someday in the future have the technology to map out all the neurons in a human brain (still incredibly difficult, impossible with today's technology), the idea that we could do so without killing a person is extremely unlikely. And even if we manage to map the neur

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I don't have a cite handy, but I have heard that in 20 years we'll be able to download the contents of the brain.

        Yeah, and flying cars and fusion generators and a lot of other stuff that will probably never happen, too. Personally, I don't take much stock on anyone's predictions for the future.

        • Like I said, it was some prediction I'd heard, IANAScientist. 'They' have succeeded in downloading less than half of a mouse's brain, so, maybe not in our lifetime, sometime down the road, downloading a person's thoughts and memories will be the reality/norm.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Brain_Atlas [wikipedia.org]

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            When it comes to brains I'm a layman as well, but I know computers down to the logic gates and they don't work anything like a brain. For one thing, digital computers generate rounding errors; what's one divided by three? What's the exact value of pi? A brain can lay three pencils on the table and say one is exactly 1/3 of the pile, while a digital computer will say it's 33.33333333333% and still is inaccurate. A computer can't do fractions, but fractions come easy to brains.

            A digital computer is an abacus

    • human brain simulation mostly be like this:
      'what am I going to wear to the party?'
      'I hope they like me.'
      'Is someone hearing my thoughts?'
      'who did this to me?'

  • These a priori categories exist, and are proven empirically.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This does not prove the categories are a priori. There were only 5 subjects who all had similar history (upbringing in the modern western world). That is not empirical evidence, at best it is a suggestion.

      • This does not prove the categories are a priori. There were only 5 subjects who all had similar history (upbringing in the modern western world). That is not empirical evidence, at best it is a suggestion.

        You've added a sociological dimension, so you must be speaking of the a posteriori.

      • by Gorobei (127755)

        This does not prove the categories are a priori. There were only 5 subjects who all had similar history (upbringing in the modern western world). That is not empirical evidence, at best it is a suggestion.

        The fact that "moving machines" is an important category pretty much dispels the notion of "a priori categories." Or maybe there are two or so a priori eigenvectors, the next two are significant for local culture, the next 7 or so describe each person's unique expertise/skills.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Try understanding what they're doing and you'll realize it doesn't back up your sentence at all.
  • Is my connection slow or is it the morning after before coffee...?

    • You need a RECENT version of chrome or firefox to get this to work. If you haven't updated lately it will load forever.
      • By "recent" do you mean something newer than the latest release-channel version of Firefox for GNU/Linux (Firefox 17.0.1, which is up to date as of right now according to mozilla.org) or the latest version of Chrome for Android (Chrome 18.0.1025469)?
    • And because some bad Soviet physicists believed in polywater, should we disregard all physics? Cognitive neuroscience is just like any other area of science, there is bad work and good work. You can get the paper at http://gallantlab.org/ [gallantlab.org] and check it out for yourself...
  • If you want to know how the brain is wired, read Trance formation of America by Cathy O'Brien.
  • So when can we use this to induce selective amnesia?

  • by itwasgreektome (785639) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @11:53PM (#42392013)
    I imagine this would be mapped from the brains of "like" individuals- not necessarily of the same sex, race, etc, but usually from one geographic area. The problem with is that maybe this is not how all brains "map" learned things, but maybe a result of western thinking/education. Perhaps native Americans, who might view trees as just as close to humans as pigs are, might have quite a different "mapping." It would be interesting to see if this was a result of how our education system is (Western species/classification) geared rather than how our brains actually group things (as in, perhaps it is a manifestation of our education system rather than inherent organizational heuristics in the brain).
  • It is untrue that our brain "makes sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day." In fact, what floods our retinas is a single continuous image, a gestalt delimited only by the shifting field of view as well as blinking, sleeping, etc. Milliseconds later, our brain slices and dices this image, discarding most of it as extraneous to our survival.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Not quite. There is no such thing as a single continuous image in reality. What floods our retinas is wave after wave of photon showers.
  • The relations represent analysis of fMRI scans. Something like: if the subjects all have the same pattern of activation for object A and object B, then these objects must be related. While I don't deny that semantic relations in our brains must almost certainly have some physical correlate, the reverse doesn't hold: e.g., a "voxel", the smallest unit being measured, easily contains 10,000 neurons, so a lot of different patterns of processing cannot be distinguished. Also, fMRI measurements are very noisy, a

  • Take that, Noam Chomsky! //wondering about Ray Kurzweil too...

    • It's interesting, and while not profound, at least it cements in the sciences a basic understanding of how the data is organized.

  • This I a very well done job. It is not often that research takes the easy while correct path to explain something while using appropiate statistics and self-explaining representations. Those claiming that brains differ, well, yes, but I haven't seen too many thinking with their thalamus...In fact those little differences may be the most important. Do you remember when those ancient Mengeles removed brain parts to try to achieve "behavioural"improvements? Well think of using a correct map and an IgG-toxin in

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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