Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NIH - Identifying and Characterizing Individual Concepts from their fMRI Signatures: From Concrete Nouns to Numbers to Social Interactions

Can we really pinpoint specific brain locations active in specific brain activities? Marcel Just, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University, thinks he can, and here he lectures on his efforts to do so. This is part of the NIH Neuroscience Seminar Series.
.NIH - Identifying and Characterizing Individual Concepts from their fMRI Signatures: From Concrete Nouns to Numbers to Social Interactions

Air date: Monday, October 18, 2010, 12:00:00 PM
Time displayed is Eastern Time, Washington DC Local
Category: Neuroscience

Description: Dr. Just's research examines a variety of "understanding" processes involving visual thinking, language comprehension and problem-solving processes. To find out what goes on in a person's mind during such thinking, their lab uses several methodologies, such as functional brain imaging, reaction time studies, verbal protocol analysis, and eye movement monitoring during comprehension and visual thinking. The experiments determine the nature of the on-line psychological processes that occur during understanding and thinking. The research examines the thinking of both normal subjects as well as patients with brain damage, to determine the organization of the underlying cognitive mechanisms. The various performance measures are used to construct theoretical models, often expressed in computational terms, that perform the same task and exhibit similar performance characteristics as human subjects.

The specific topics that their research addresses include sentence and text comprehension, coordinated comprehension of text and diagrams, and the role of working memory in comprehension and problem-solving, mental kinematics and mental models of dynamic events. In addition to studying various kinds of understanding, they also examine why individuals differ in the strategies and cognitive resources that they bring to bear on a task, attempting to explain why some people are better thinkers than others. Since early 1995, they have been using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study sentence comprehension and spatial thinking. The early part of this work has not only found the network of brain areas that become active during various language and visual tasks, but has also begun to relate the amount of brain activity to the amount of cognitive processing. fMRI research has become another tool for addressing the nature of understanding (linguistic and visual), directly assessing brain function during task performance.

NIH Neuroscience Seminar Series
Marcel Just, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University
Runtime: 01:11:56
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