Friday, June 23, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 5

“The way the brain processes this kind of information (facial encoding and recognition) doesn’t have to be a black box,” said Le Chang. “Although there are many steps of computations between the image we see and the responses of face cells, the code of these face cells turned out to be quite simple once we found the proper axes.” If you’re interested in reading more about this and want to see pictures showing eight different real faces that were presented to a monkey, together with reconstructions made by analyzing electrical activity from 205 neurons recorded while the monkey was viewing the faces, try the URL below.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 4

Researchers discovered that axes within a multidimensional space, now known as the “face space” can combine in different ways to create every possible face. In other words, there is no Jennifer Aniston neuron. Senior author Doris Tsao, a professor of biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology reported: “We’ve discovered that this code is extremely simple. We can now reconstruct a face that a monkey is seeing by monitoring the electrical activity of only 205 neurons in the monkey’s brain. One can imagine applications in forensics where one could reconstruct the face of a criminal by analyzing a witness’s brain activity.” More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 3

Primates recognize complex objects such as faces with remarkable speed and reliability. Experiments in macaques demonstrated an extraordinarily simple transformation between faces and responses of cells in face patches. Six general areas of the primate and human brain that are responsible for recognizing faces were identified. Labelled ‘face patches,’ all six face patches were located in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex. Researchers found that these areas are packed with specific nerve cells that activate much more strongly when seeing faces than when seeing other objects. They called these neurons “face cells.” Rather than representing a specific identity, each face cell represents a specific axis within a multidimensional space, which researchers called the “face space.” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 2

In a paper published June 1, 2017 in the journal Cell, researchers Le Chang and Doris Y. Tsao reported that they have deciphered how faces are encoded in the brain—at least in primates. Previously, some experts in the field believed that each face cell (a.k.a. “grandmother cell“) in the brain represents a specific face. This presented a paradox, according to Doris Y. Tsao, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “You could potentially recognize 6 billion people, but you don’t have 6 billion face cells in the IT or inferior temporal cortex. There had to be some other solution.” It turns out there was. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding/Recognition

Earlier this year I mentioned the “Jennifer Aniston neuron,” so called, which led some to believe that the representation of an entire face may be filed in a single neuron. They reportedly touched a single neuron inside a person’s brain and the patient reported seeing Jennifer Aniston’s face. That flew in the face of previous beliefs that memory for faces was somewhat diffuse throughout the brain and that the hippocampus might play a role in searching for pieces to assemble a ‘face’ much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A new study was recently released that provided some specifics related to facial encoding in a primate brain. That’s what it so exciting about brain-function research—new information is released quite regularly! More tomorrow.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Aphorisms, 8

  • Life is short, art is long
  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place—well, rarely, anyway
  • Little strokes fell great oaks
  • Live and learn—so you can stop making the same mistakes your whole life
  • Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration
  • Give people fish and they eat for one meal; teach them how and they eat for life
  • Give them an inch and they'll demand a mile
  • Little pitchers have big ears
  • If you’re not with me you’re against me or you’re standing alone
  • Give him enough rope and he'll hang himself

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pratfall Effect, 4

To recap: the pratfall effect is a psychological phenomenon that says your likability actually increases when you make mistakes! Competent people appear more likeable and attractive when they make a mistake than when they are perceived as perfect and flawless. No surprise, it is named after an American expression or slang word for falling on your behind or keister. In one study, psychologist Elliot Aronson asked research participants to listen to recordings of people answering a quiz. Select recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a cup of coffee. When study participants were asked to rate the quizzers on likability, the coffee-spill group came out on top. This means that being real—acknowledging when you make a mistake, apologizing as indicated, and moving on—may make you look better than an individual who seems quite flawless due to being perceived as not being as human. Indeed, mistakes are simply a validation that one is human. Everyone makes mistakes; not everyone learns from them. Therein lies the rub.