Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Mapping Semantic Space in the Brain

Every moment we walk around in this big, bad world, our brains somehow make sense of the environment around us.  They manage, somehow, to process an incredible amount of visual information as we move and interact with objects and other people, highlighting the important items and discarding distracting, unnecessary information. 


How do our brains accomplish such an amazing feat?  It's almost overwhelming to think about.  There's a lot going on there.  But one key process involved is categorizing all of the objects and actions that we see.  By categorizing what's out there, we are better able to prioritize what's important.  But still, it's a heck of a lot to think about.  And it all seems rather abstract and mind bending.

Yet, now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created an interactive map of how the brain organizes all these visual categories.  They call it a "semantic space."

The Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the brain activation of 5 individuals as they watched hours and hours of movie clips.  In every movie clip, objects and actions were labeled.  The researchers then used a variety of analysis tools to create some pretty incredible visualizations of shared "semantic space."

Alexander Huth, graduate student and lead author of this study (published in Neuron earlier this week) talks more about the study and their methods:

Huth and his colleagues say a better understanding of "semantic space" may give us new insights into diagnosing and treating different neuropsychiatric disorders.  It may also help designers make stronger, better human/machine interfaces.  Of course, this is just a first step.  But it sure is pretty.

Me, I can't stop playing with the lab's interactive website, clicking the different categories and checking out how they are represented on the cortex.  It's an impressive attempt to tackle a complex and sophisticated problem.  I can't wait to see what the Gallant Lab tries next.

Photo Credit:  Skylines/Shutterstock.com

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

NASA's idea for making food from thin air just became a reality — it could feed billions

Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.

Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
  • Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
  • The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Keep reading Show less

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

Videos
  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Keep reading Show less

How COVID-19 will change the way we design our homes

Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.

Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Coronavirus
COVID-19 is confounding planning for basic human needs, including shelter.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast