I love to browse around in Extremetech.com, somewhat addictive but full of fascinating developments in just about everything thanks to the bleeding edge of technology.
Today, I ran across an article about a study of how the brain categorizes and maps everything we see (you can download the actual study on the site). To quote the author of the article:
student Alexander Huth had five participants watch two hours of movie
trailers that contained over 1,700 categories of actions and objects.
During that time, their brain activity was recorded using functional
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), measuring blood flow in various spots
in the brain. Using linear regression,
the scientists were then able to analyze the collected data, and
subsequently build a model showing how all of those actions and objects
fit into around 30,000 locations within the cortex.
"After that point the researchers translated the model to a visual form. Using principal component analysis –
a mathematical procedure used to provide a synopsis for a large amount
of data — the scientists were able to visualize those 1,700 categories
and how they related to one another…"
According to our author, the map represents "semantic neighborhoods", categories of things the brain finds similar to each other, and not only that — apparently different people's brains organize things in similar ways — at least for those five participants, assuming they're not mentally linked!
What immediately struck me is how the brain appears to have text, color, shapes, talk, groups, and change all in the same neighborhood… Could this be why visual facilitation works so well? That is to say, does this semantic proximity translate into better thinking/problem-solving/communications? Well, that's a big jump… but a tempting one to make!