Researchers have succeeded in producing a detailed picture of where the brain organizes the various elements of the language. This "brain map" is a step on the way to be able to read minds, according to the researchers.
US – What happens in your brain when you hear the word “cat”? You can see exactly where in the brain this simple word are converted to create an image of a cat, a sense of a cat and even the sound of a cat?
Mapped the brain
Scientists have long been looking for ways to be able to decode our thoughts. It is a very complex web of nerve fibers to sort out.
But now, a research team at Berkeley University in California has taken an important step by developing a kind of map of the exact sites that deal with different words.
The study allowed seven people listening to the same radio broadcast for two hours. Activity in the cortex was measured and analyzed using functional MRI (fMRI) for each exact occasion they heard a variety of words. That way one could identify which specific sites in the brain cortex that were involved for different words.
The researchers also shared the words in larger groups, and could see the areas that deal with it that is about vision, touch, time, something abstract, violent, emotionally or socially.
By comparing the participants’ results, they were able to conclude that it looked very similar. The same words enabled the same parts of the brain of most of the participants. It suggests that our brain handles different words in the same places.
So what will happen in practice? Well, if you hear the word “cat” for example, it will activate several different parts of the brain but that’s about the same spots that are activated in most people.
Memory of a cat’s image is attached to parts of the visual cortex, the sound of how a cat sounds associated with the auditory cortex and how it feels is attached to the sensory cortex. In order to create an actual picture of a cat, so must all these areas interact. But the researchers have been able to see is exactly what those areas are.
Even abstract words
But the study also included more abstract words like “alone” and “above”, and although it looks similar brain activity out of the various participants.
Because the study is so small, there is a need for more research to see if there may be individual differences, but the researchers believe it is a step on the road to be able to “read minds”.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.