Professor Jack Gallant and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley have published a new paper ‘Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex‘ in the journal Nature. Readers may recall another impressive paper by Gallant’s lab in which visual experiences were ‘reverse engineered’ as subjects watched film clips whilst being scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The construction of a semantic map was also discussed back in 2012.
In the new paper, whilst subjects were watching film clips and listening to words, fMRI was used to map the active areas in the brain. What was really interesting was that the resulting brain maps of semantic concepts were similar between subjects. This is pioneering research and shows just how predictive fMRI data can be. This is likely to have applications at the clinical interface and it will be interesting to see how other clinicians respond to these latest findings.
The Gallant Lab have made the brain viewer available and there are two videos below. The first is produced by Nature and the second by the National Science Foundation.
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