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Posts Tagged ‘perception

Touch Does Affect Flavor

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Does coffee in a flimsy cup taste worse than coffee in a more substantial cup? Firms such as McDonalds and Starbucks spend millions of dollars every year on disposable packaging, but a new study suggests that trying to skimp in this area might not be worth it — and may negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of taste and quality.

In a series of four experiments, Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan) and Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University) find that many people do indeed judge a drink by its container. Specifically, the firmness of a cup seems to have an impact on consumer evaluations of the beverage contained inside.

“We found that the nondiagnostic haptic qualities of a product package or serving container can affect how a product is evaluated; that is, such cues can indeed have an effect on product evaluation,” the researchers write.

Not everyone has the same sensitivity to touch, though, the researchers explain. They first performed a pretest to determine which participants were strong autotelics — the sort of people who like to touch things before they buy them — and which participants were not particularly inclined to touch products (low autotelics).

Participants then evaluated the feel of the cups while blindfolded or in an evaluation in which they could both feel and see. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest difference in ratings for the firm and the flimsy cups was in the blindfolded condition among those most sensitive to touch.

However, the researchers also found that those who like to touch are least influenced by touch in taste evaluations. Indeed, in a taste test of the same mineral water from both a flimsy and a firm cup, it was low autotelics who gave the most negative evaluations of the taste of the water in the flimsy cup.

The results were similar when participants were just told about the containers in a written description and did not actually feel them: Low autotelics expressed a willingness to pay more for a firm bottle of water, while high autotelics did not.

The researchers explain: “High (vs. low) autotelics receive more pleasure from touching objects, tend to touch them more, and are more consciously aware of the potential effect of haptic clues on product judgment. As a result, they are more capable of adjusting for such clues in their product judgments when they are nondiagnostic in nature.”

Journal of Consumer Research April 2008 – Ahead of Print, Page 000
Does Touch Affect Taste? The Perceptual Transfer of Product Container Haptic Cues
Aradhna Krishna Maureen Morrin, John Deighton served as editor and Laura Peracchio served as associate editor for this article.

We develop a conceptual framework regarding the perceptual transfer of haptic or touch-related characteristics from product containers to judgments of the products themselves. Thus, the firmness of a cup in which water is served may affect consumers’ judgments of the water itself. This framework predicts that not all consumers are equally affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues. Results from four studies show that consumers high in the autotelic need for touch (general liking for haptic input) are less affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues compared to consumers low in the autotelic need for touch. The research has many implications for product and package design.

Electronically published October 17, 2007

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Written by huehueteotl

March 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Psychology

Tagged with , ,

blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed

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Contrary to what we might think about him, Thomas was a gutsy guy. As about the blessing, we all seem to have more or less part of it: scientists at UCL (University College London) have found the link between what we expect to see, and what our brain tells us we actually saw. The study reveals that the context surrounding what we see is all important — sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things which aren’t really there.
The same dim vertical target rectangle centered in two different contexts is more visible in the left vague context. (Credit: Image courtesy of University College London)

The paper reveals that a vague background context is more influential and helps us to fill in more blanks than a bright, well-defined context. This may explain why we are prone to ‘see’ imaginary shapes in the shadows when the light is poor.

Eighteen observers were asked to concentrate on the centre of a black computer screen. Every time a buzzer sounded they pressed one of two buttons to record whether or not they had just seen a small, dim, grey ‘target’ rectangle in the middle of the screen. It did not appear every time, but when it did appear it was displayed for just 80 milliseconds (80 one thousandths of a second).

“People saw the target much more often if it appeared in the middle of a vertical line of similar looking, grey rectangles, compared to when it appeared in the middle of a pattern of bright, white rectangles. They even registered ‘seeing’ the target when it wasn’t actually there,” said Professor Zhaoping, lead author of the paper. “This is because people are mentally better prepared to see something vague when the surrounding context is also vague. It made sense for them to see it — so that’s what happened. When the target didn’t match the expectations set by the surrounding context, they saw it much less often.

“Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years,” continued Professor Zhaoping. “When you see them throw a ball into the air, followed by a second ball, and then a third ball which ‘magically’ disappears, you wonder how they did it. In truth, there’s often no third ball – it’s just our brain being deceived by the context, telling us that we really did see three balls launched into the air, one after the other.

“Contrary to what one might expect, it is a vague rather than a bright and clearly visible context that most strongly permits our beliefs to override the evidence and fill in the blanks. In fact, a bright and clearly visible context actually overrides the evidence in the opposite direction – suppressing our ‘seeing’ of the vague target even when it is present.

“Mathematical modelling suggests that visual inference through context is processed in the brain beyond the primary visual cortex. By starting with a relatively simple experiment such as this, where visual input can be more easily and systematically manipulated, we are gaining a better understanding of how context influences what we see. Further studies along these lines can hopefully enable us to dissect the workings behind more complex and wondrous illusions.”

PLoS Computational Biology Vol. 4, No. 2, e14 doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0040014

Filling-In and Suppression of Visual Perception from Context: A Bayesian Account of Perceptual Biases by Contextual Influences

Zhaoping L, Jingling L 

Visual object recognition and sensitivity to image features are largely influenced by contextual inputs. We study influences by contextual bars on the bias to perceive or infer the presence of a target bar, rather than on the sensitivity to image features. Human observers judged from a briefly presented stimulus whether a target bar of a known orientation and shape is present at the center of a display, given a weak or missing input contrast at the target location with or without a context of other bars. Observers are more likely to perceive a target when the context has a weaker rather than stronger contrast. When the context can perceptually group well with the would-be target, weak contrast contextual bars bias the observers to perceive a target relative to the condition without contexts, as if to fill in the target. Meanwhile, high-contrast contextual bars, regardless of whether they group well with the target, bias the observers to perceive no target. A Bayesian model of visual inference is shown to account for the data well, illustrating that the context influences the perception in two ways: (1) biasing observers’ prior belief that a target should be present according to visual grouping principles, and (2) biasing observers’ internal model of the likely input contrasts caused by a target bar. According to this model, our data suggest that the context does not influence the perceived target contrast despite its influence on the bias to perceive the target’s presence, thereby suggesting that cortical areas beyond the primary visual cortex are responsible for the visual inferences.

Written by huehueteotl

February 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Size Does Not Matter, Thinking Does…

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… at least when health prospects are concerned. In a study to examine the impact of desired body weight on the number of unhealthy days subjects report over one month, researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that the desire to weigh less was a more accurate predictor of physically and mentally unhealthy days, than body mass index (BMI). In addition, the desire to lose weight was more predictive of unhealthy days among Whites than among African-Americans or Hispanics, and among women than among men.

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After controlling for actual BMI and age, the researchers found that men who wished to lose 1 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent of their body weight, respectively, reported 0.1, 0.9 and 2.7 more unhealthy days per month than those who were happy with their weight. Among women, the corresponding increase in numbers of reported unhealthy days was 0.1, 1.6 and 4.3. Persons who were happy with their weight experienced fewer physically unhealthy days (3.0 vs 3.7) and mentally unhealthy days (2.6 vs 3.6) compared with persons unhappy with their weight.

“Our data suggest that some of the obesity epidemic may be partially attributable to social constructs that surround ideal body types,” said Peter Muennig, MD, MPH, Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of Health Policy and Management. “Younger persons, Whites, and women are disproportionately affected by negative body image concerns, and these groups unduly suffer from BMI-associated morbidity and mortality.”

Approximately 66% of the more than 150,000 U.S. adults studied wanted to lose weight, and about 26% were satisfied with their current weight. With respect to BMI, 41% of normal weight people, 20% of overweight people, and 5% of obese people were happy with their weight. Older persons were also more likely to feel positively about their weight than were younger persons. However, in all models, perceived difference was a stronger predictor than was BMI of mentally and physically unhealthy days.

The researchers emphasize that there is a large body of evidence suggesting that social stress adversely affects mental health as well as physical health. “Our findings confirmed that there was a positive relationship between a person’s actual weight and his or her desired weight and health, be it physical or mental,” observed Dr. Muennig.

Obesity is one of the greatest public health threats. Over 7 million quality-adjusted life years are lost annually as a result of excess body weight in the United States alone. There is evidence that discrimination against heavy people is pervasive, occurring in social settings, the workplace, and the home. These processes are likely internalized, leading to a negative body image that also may serve as a source of chronic stress.

“The data add support to our hypothesis that the psychological stress that accompanies a negative body image explains some of the morbidity commonly associated with being obese. Our finding that the desire to lose weight was a much stronger predictor of unhealthy days than was BMI further suggests that perceived difference plays a greater role in generating disease,” said Dr. Muennig.

Am J Public Health. 2008 Jan 30 [Epub ahead of print]
I Think Therefore I Am: Perceived Ideal Weight as a Determinant of Health.
Columbia University.

Objectives. We examined whether stress related to negative body image perception and the desire to lose weight explained some of the body mass index-health gradient. Methods. We used 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to examine the impact of desired body weight, independent of actual body mass index, on the amount of physically and mentally unhealthy days by race, ethnicity, and gender. Results. The difference between actual and desired body weight was a stronger predictor than was body mass index (BMI) of mental and physical health. When we controlled for BMI and age, men who wished to lose 1%, 10%, and 20% of their body weight respectively suffered a net increase of 0.1, 0.9, and 2.7 unhealthy days per month relative to those who were happy with their weight. For women, the corresponding numbers were 0.1, 1.6, and 4.3 unhealthy days per month. The desire to lose weight was more predictive of unhealthy days among women than among men and among Whites than among Blacks or Hispanics. Conclusions. Our results raise the possibility that some of the health effects of the obesity epidemic are related to the way we see our bodies.

Written by huehueteotl

February 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Discrimination Against Blacks Linked To Dehumanization

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Crude historical depictions of African Americans as ape-like may have disappeared from mainstream U.S. culture, but research presented in a new paper by psychologists at Stanford, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California-Berkeley reveals that many Americans subconsciously associate blacks with apes.

Crude historical depictions of African Americans as ape-like may have disappeared from mainstream U.S. culture, but new research reveals that many Americans subconsciously associate blacks with apes. (Credit: Image courtesy of Stanford University)

In addition, the findings show that society is more likely to condone violence against black criminal suspects as a result of its broader inability to accept African Americans as fully human, according to the researchers.

Co-author Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford associate professor of psychology who is black, said she was shocked by the results, particularly since they involved subjects born after Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. “This was actually some of the most depressing work I have done,” she said. “This shook me up. You have suspicions when you do the work—intuitions—you have a hunch. But it was hard to prepare for how strong [the black-ape association] was—how we were able to pick it up every time.”

The research took place over six years at Stanford and Penn State under Eberhardt’s supervision. It involved mostly white male undergraduates. In a series of studies that subliminally flashed black or white male faces on a screen for a fraction of a second to “prime” the students, researchers found subjects could identify blurry ape drawings much faster after they were primed with black faces than with white faces.

The researchers consistently discovered a black-ape association even if the young adults said they knew nothing about its historical connotations. The connection was made only with African American faces; the paper’s third study failed to find an ape association with other non-white groups, such as Asians. Despite such race-specific findings, the researchers stressed that dehumanization and animal imagery have been used for centuries to justify violence against many oppressed groups.

“Despite widespread opposition to racism, bias remains with us,” Eberhardt said. “African Americans are still dehumanized; we’re still associated with apes in this country. That association can lead people to endorse the beating of black suspects by police officers, and I think it has lots of other consequences that we have yet to uncover.”

Historical background

Scientific racism in the United States was graphically promoted in a mid-19th-century book by Josiah C. Nott and George Robins Gliddon titled Types of Mankind, which used misleading illustrations to suggest that “Negroes” ranked between “Greeks” and chimpanzees. “When we have a history like that in this country, I don’t know how much of that goes away completely, especially to the extent that we are still dealing with severe racial inequality, which fuels and maintains those associations in ways that people are unaware,” Eberhardt said.

Although such grotesque characterizations of African Americans have largely disappeared from mainstream U.S. society, Eberhardt noted that science education could be partly responsible for reinforcing the view that blacks are less evolved than whites. An iconic 1970 illustration, “March of Progress,” published in the Time-Life book Early Man, depicts evolution beginning with a chimpanzee and ending with a white man. “It’s a legacy of our past that the endpoint of evolution is a white man,” Eberhardt said. “I don’t think it’s intentional, but when people learn about human evolution, they walk away with a notion that people of African descent are closer to apes than people of European descent. When people think of a civilized person, a white man comes to mind.”

Consequences of socially endorsed violence

In the paper’s fifth study, the researchers subliminally primed 115 white male undergraduates with words associated with either apes (such as “monkey,” “chimp,” “gorilla”) or big cats (such as “lion,” “tiger,” “panther”). The latter was used as a control because both images are associated with violence and Africa, Eberhardt said. The subjects then watched a two-minute video clip, similar to the television program COPS, depicting several police officers violently beating a man of undetermined race. A mugshot of either a white or a black man was shown at the beginning of the clip to indicate who was being beaten, with a description conveying that, although described by his family as “a loving husband and father,” the suspect had a serious criminal record and may have been high on drugs at the time of his arrest.

The students were then asked to rate how justified the beating was. Participants who believed the suspect was white were no more likely to condone the beating when they were primed with either ape or big cat words, Eberhardt said. But those who thought the suspect was black were more likely to justify the beating if they had been primed with ape words than with big cat words. “Taken together, this suggests that implicit knowledge of a Black-ape association led to marked differences in participants’ judgments of Black criminal suspects,” the researchers write.

According to the paper’s authors, this link has devastating consequences for African Americans because it “alters visual perception and attention, and it increases endorsement of violence against black suspects.” For example, the paper’s sixth study showed that in hundreds of news stories from 1979 to 1999 in the Philadelphia Inquirer, African Americans convicted of capital crimes were about four times more likely than whites convicted of capital crimes to be described with ape-relevant language, such as “barbaric,” “beast,” “brute,” “savage” and “wild.” “Those who are implicitly portrayed as more ape-like in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not,” the researchers write.

The way forward

Despite the paper’s findings, Eberhardt said she is optimistic about the future. “This work isn’t arguing that there hasn’t been any progress made or that we are living in the same society that existed in the 19th century,” she said. “We have made a lot of progress on race issues, but we should recognize that racial bias isn’t dead. We still need to be aware of that and aware of all the different ways [racism] can affect us, despite our intentions and motivations to be egalitarian. We still have work to do.”

For Eberhardt, two stories of race exist in America. “One is about the disappearance of bias—that it’s no longer with us,” she said. “But the other is about the transformation of bias. It’s not the egregious bias anymore, but it’s modern bias, subtle bias.” With both of these stories, she said, there is an understanding that society has moved beyond the historic battles centered around race. “We want to argue, with this work, that there is one old race battle that we’re still fighting,” she said. “That is the battle for blacks to be recognized as fully human.”

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Feb;94(2):292-306.
Not yet human: Implicit knowledge, historical dehumanization, and contemporary consequences.
Goff PA, Eberhardt JL, Williams MJ, Jackson MC.

Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University.

Historical representations explicitly depicting Blacks as apelike have largely disappeared in the United States, yet a mental association between Blacks and apes remains. Here, the authors demonstrate that U.S. citizens implicitly associate Blacks and apes. In a series of laboratory studies, the authors reveal how this association influences study participants’ basic cognitive processes and significantly alters their judgments in criminal justice contexts. Specifically, this Black-ape association alters visual perception and attention, and it increases endorsement of violence against Black suspects. In an archival study of actual criminal cases, the authors show that news articles written about Blacks who are convicted of capital crimes are more likely to contain ape-relevant language than news articles written about White convicts. Moreover, those who are implicitly portrayed as more apelike in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not. The authors argue that examining the subtle persistence of specific historical representations such as these may not only enhance contemporary research on dehumanization, stereotyping, and implicit processes but also highlight common forms of discrimination that previously have gone unrecognized. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).

Written by huehueteotl

February 9, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Checking One Voice In A Noisy Room? New Findings On Selectively Interpreting Sounds

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Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have reported new findings about how the mammalian brain interprets and fashions representations of sound that may help explain how we are able to focus on one particular sound among many in noisy environments such as offices or cocktail parties.

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Neurons in the brain’s auditory cortex interpret incoming sound signals and send them to the rest of the nervous system, in the brain and spinal cord. Using rats, the CSHL team discovered that a very small minority of available auditory neurons react strongly when exposed to any specific sound.

“This finding challenges the standard model of sound representations in the auditory cortex, which predicts that neural representations of stimuli often engage a large fraction of neurons,” said Anthony Zador, Ph.D., CSHL professor and corresponding author of a new research paper.*

The researchers used a new technique called “in vivo cell-attached patch clamp recording” which measures the reaction of individual neurons. This recording technique samples neurons in a fair and unbiased way, unlike traditional approaches, which favored the largest and most active neurons. Using this technique, the team found that only 5% of neurons in the auditory cortex had a “high firing rate” when receiving a range of sounds of varying length, frequency, and volume. The experiment included white noise and natural animal sounds.

The team’s objective was to quantify the relative contributions of different sub-populations of neurons in response to the range of sounds. Most of what is known about the auditory cortex of the mammalian brain comes from studies of the anesthetized cortex. The results of the experiments reported today are important partly because they measure the response of neurons in rats that were not anesthetized. In animals that are awake, it’s possible to measure the response over an interval of time to one sound among many that are co-occurring.

This is the approach the Zador lab has taken to explain “selective attention,” or what Dr. Zador calls “the cocktail party problem.” Half of the neurons measured in the reported experiments showed no reaction at all to incoming stimuli. The researchers hypothesize that each neuron in the auditory cortex may have an “optimal stimulus” to which it is particularly sensitized.

“Your entire sensory apparatus is there to make successful representations of the outside world,” said Dr. Zador, who is director of the CSHL Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience. “Sparse representations may make sensory stimuli easier to recognize and remember.” Recognizing the brain’s ability to distinguish “optimal stimuli” could help scientists find ways to improve how sounds are learned. Prior research has already yielded similar results when measuring sight, movement, and smell. This is the first evidence of a correlation between sparse representations and hearing.

“The goal of sensory processing is to take a signal, like a sound or a vision, from your environment and use it to drive behavior,” said Dr. Zador. “The brain needs to recognize and learn about these inputs in order to survive.”

PLoS Biol 6(1): e16 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060016

Sparse Representation of Sounds in the Unanesthetized Auditory Cortex

Tomáš Hromádka1, Michael R. DeWeese2, Anthony M. Zador3*

1 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson School of Biological Sciences, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States of America, 2 Department of Physics and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America, 3 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States of America

How do neuronal populations in the auditory cortex represent acoustic stimuli? Although sound-evoked neural responses in the anesthetized auditory cortex are mainly transient, recent experiments in the unanesthetized preparation have emphasized subpopulations with other response properties. To quantify the relative contributions of these different subpopulations in the awake preparation, we have estimated the representation of sounds across the neuronal population using a representative ensemble of stimuli. We used cell-attached recording with a glass electrode, a method for which single-unit isolation does not depend on neuronal activity, to quantify the fraction of neurons engaged by acoustic stimuli (tones, frequency modulated sweeps, white-noise bursts, and natural stimuli) in the primary auditory cortex of awake head-fixed rats. We find that the population response is sparse, with stimuli typically eliciting high firing rates (>20 spikes/second) in less than 5% of neurons at any instant. Some neurons had very low spontaneous firing rates (<0.01 spikes/second). At the other extreme, some neurons had driven rates in excess of 50 spikes/second. Interestingly, the overall population response was well described by a lognormal distribution, rather than the exponential distribution that is often reported. Our results represent, to our knowledge, the first quantitative evidence for sparse representations of sounds in the unanesthetized auditory cortex. Our results are compatible with a model in which most neurons are silent much of the time, and in which representations are composed of small dynamic subsets of highly active neurons.

Written by huehueteotl

January 30, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Brain Imaging Shows If You Are Thinking Of Familiar Object

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A team of Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists and cognitive neuroscientists, combining methods of machine learning and brain imaging, have found a way to identify where people’s thoughts and perceptions of familiar objects originate in the brain by identifying the patterns of brain activity associated with the objects. This new method was developed over two years under the leadership of neuroscientist Professor Marcel Just and Computer Science Professor Tom M. Mitchell.

Locations of the discriminating voxels in object exemplar classification for one participant. (Credit: Image courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University)

A dozen study participants enveloped in an MRI scanner were shown line drawings of 10 different objects — five tools and five dwellings –one at a time and asked to think about their properties. Just and Mitchell’s method was able to accurately determine which of the 10 drawings a participant was viewing based on their characteristic whole-brain neural activation patterns. To make the task more challenging for themselves, the researchers excluded information in the brain’s visual cortex, where raw visual information is available, and focused more on the “thinking” parts of the brain.

The scientists found that the activation pattern evoked by an object wasn’t located in just one place in the brain. For instance, thinking about a hammer activated many locations. How you swing a hammer activated the motor area, while what a hammer is used for, and the shape of a hammer activated other areas.

According to Just and Mitchell, this is the first study to report the ability to identify the thought process associated with a single object. While earlier work showed it is possible to distinguish broad categories of objects such as “tools” versus “buildings,” this new research shows that it is possible to distinguish between items with very similar meanings, like two different tools. The machine-learning method involves training a computer algorithm (a set of mathematical rules) to extract the patterns from a participant’s brain activation, using data collected in one part of the study, and then testing the algorithm on data in an independent part of the same study. In this way, the algorithm is never previously exposed to the patterns on which it is tested.

Another important question addressed by the study was whether different brains exhibit the same or different activity patterns to encode these individual objects. To answer this question, the researchers tried identifying objects represented in one participant’s brain after training their algorithms using data collected from other participants. They found that the algorithm was indeed able to identify a participant’s thoughts based on the patterns extracted from the other participants.

“This part of the study establishes, as never before, that there is a commonality in how different people’s brains represent the same object,” said Mitchell, head of the Machine Learning Department in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science and a pioneer in applying machine learning methods to the study of brain activity. “There has always been a philosophical conundrum as to whether one person’s perception of the color blue is the same as another person’s. Now we see that there is a great deal of commonality across different people’s brain activity corresponding to familiar tools and dwellings.”

“This first step using computer algorithms to identify thoughts of individual objects from brain activity can open new scientific paths, and eventually roads and highways,” added Svetlana Shinkareva, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina who is the study’s lead author. “We hope to progress to identifying the thoughts associated not just with pictures, but also with words, and eventually sentences.”

Just, who directs the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon, noted that one application the team is excited about is comparing the activation patterns of people with neurological disorders, such as autism. “We are looking forward to determining how people with autism neurally represent social concepts such as friend and happy,” he said. Just also is developing a brain-based theory of autism. “People with autism perceive others in a distinctive way that has been difficult to characterize,” he explained. “This machine learning approach offers a way to discover that characterization.”

Shinkareva SV, Mason RA, Malave VL, Wang W, Mitchell TM, et al. (2008)

Using fMRI Brain Activation to Identify Cognitive States Associated with Perception of Tools and Dwellings.

PLoS ONE 3(1): e1394. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001394

Abstract

Previous studies have succeeded in identifying the cognitive state corresponding to the perception of a set of depicted categories, such as tools, by analyzing the accompanying pattern of brain activity, measured with fMRI. The current research focused on identifying the cognitive state associated with a 4s viewing of an individual line drawing (1 of 10 familiar objects, 5 tools and 5 dwellings, such as a hammer or a castle). Here we demonstrate the ability to reliably (1) identify which of the 10 drawings a participant was viewing, based on that participant’s characteristic whole-brain neural activation patterns, excluding visual areas; (2) identify the category of the object with even higher accuracy, based on that participant’s activation; and (3) identify, for the first time, both individual objects and the category of the object the participant was viewing, based only on other participants’ activation patterns. The voxels important for category identification were located similarly across participants, and distributed throughout the cortex, focused in ventral temporal perceptual areas but also including more frontal association areas (and somewhat left-lateralized). These findings indicate the presence of stable, distributed, communal, and identifiable neural states corresponding to object concepts.

Written by huehueteotl

January 6, 2008 at 12:57 am