There is a lot we don’t know about the human brain and our understanding of how they process language is still a pretty big mystery to us. Currently, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are building a “semantic atlas” of the brain in order to interpret how it organizes words and language. These studies are “based on a brain imaging study that recorded neural activity while study volunteers listened to stories from “The Moth Radio Hour.” (Laboratory Equipment – National Science Foundation)
At least one third of the brain power that goes on inside of our cerebral cortex is used for processing language. This means language makes up a very large part of our inner thoughts. Researchers have been able to map detailed images of how the brain organizes words by having participants listen to an emotionally-charged radio program. The participants brain activity was monitored and measured using MRI. They found that different parts of the brain respond differently when different words were heard. Researchers were then able to categorize word “types” with the areas of the brain they most affected. For example social words and words related to numbers tend to activate different parts of the brain. These organizational structures seemed to be consistent among the multiple individuals.
Learn how words “light up” parts of the brain when studied in the MRI scan:
While it may seem a bit creepy that equipment could essentially “read” our thoughts, it would be helpful for victims of stroke, brain damage and other patients who have trouble communicating vocally. I hate to think, however, how having the ability to map the cerebral cortex could be misused.
According to DigitalTrends, there were only 7 volunteers that participated in this study. More research and a larger sample study are needed to better understand these findings.
Featured Image Credit: KylaBorg