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† Understanding the brainís semantic space

Narrator:       This is Science Today. People may presume that different categories of things are represented differently in the brain, but that doesn't mean that they're represented in completely different ways.

Huth:             Take cars and motorcycles for example. They share a lot of features: They both have wheels, they both have headlights, they both go on roads, they fulfill pretty much the same functions. So, you might think that they're represented pretty similarly in the brain. But how can we extend this idea to all the thousands of categories that we can see?

Narrator:       Alexander Huth, a doctoral student in neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, says one way would be to use what's called the "semantic space" in our brain, in which we organize all these visual categories. Huth and his colleagues actually created the first interactive, online map of this process after putting subjects in an MRI machine and recording their brain activity while they watched movie trailers that had all the objects and actions onscreen labeled.

Huth:              What we see is a really complex pattern of semantics activity throughout higher visual cortex. These patterns are consistent with the well known semantically selected brain areas like the fusiform face area and parahippocampal area.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.