MessageToEagle.com - How is it possible for a human eye to figure out letters that are twisted and looped in crazy directions,
like those in the little security test internet users are often given on websites?
It seems easy to us - the human brain just does it, but this task is far from simple.
As a matter of fact, the task is so complex that no one has been able to write computer code that translates
these distorted letters the same way that neural networks can.
There is a help in a type of challenge-response test - CAPTCHA ("Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell
Computers and Humans Apart") - used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.
Now, a team of neuroscientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has explored how the brain a
ccomplishes this remarkable task.
The research-involving recordings from hundreds of neurons-may also have future clinical and practical implications,
says the study's senior co-authors, Salk neuroscientists Tatyana Sharpee and John Reynolds.
"Understanding how the brain creates a visual image can help humans whose brains are malfunctioning in various
different ways-such as people who have lost the ability to see," says Sharpee, an associate professor
in the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory.
"One way of solving that problem is to figure out how the brain-not the eye, but the cortex-processes information
about the world. If you have that code then you can directly stimulate neurons in the cortex and allow people to see."
According to Reynolds, a professor in the
Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, an indirect benefit of understanding
the way the brain works is the possibility of building computer systems that can act like humans.
"The reason that machines are limited in their capacity to recognize things in the world around us is that we
don't really understand how the brain does it as well as it does," he says.
But the mystery isn't solved yet and many long-term goals must be achieved.
"Neurons in the visual system are sensitive to regions of space-they are like little windows into the world,"
"In the earliest stages of processing, these windows-known as receptive fields-are small. They only have access
to information within a restricted region of space. Each of these neurons sends brain signals that encode the
contents of a little region of space-they respond to tiny, simple elements of an object such as edge oriented
in space, or a little patch of color."
Both new studies investigated the issue of translation invariance-the ability of a neuron to recognize the
same stimulus within its receptive field no matter where it is in space, where it happens to fall within
the receptive field.
"The accepted understanding is that individuals neurons are tuned to recognize the same stimulus no matter
where it was in their receptive field," says Sharpee.
For example, a neuron might respond to a bit of the curve in the number 5 in a CAPTCHA image, no matter
how the 5 is situated within its receptive field.
Researchers believed that neuronal translation invariance-the ability to recognize any stimulus, no matter
where it is in space-increases as an image moves up through the visual processing hierarchy.
"But what both studies show is that there is more to the story," she says. "There is a trade off between
the complexity of the stimulus and the degree to which the cell can recognize it as it moves from place to place."
Previous studies of object recognition were based on assumption that neuronal responses at later stages in
visual processing remain the same regardless of basic visual transformations to the object's image.
"It is important that results from the two studies are quite compatible with one another, that what we find
studying just lines and curves in one first experiment matches what we see when the brain experiences the
real world," says Sharpee, who is well known for developing a computational method to extract neural
responses from natural images.
"What this tells us is that there is a deeper mystery here to be solved," Reynolds says.
"We have not figured out how translation invariance is achieved. What we have done is unpacked part of
the machinery for achieving integration of parts into wholes."
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Several "God Spots" Are Responsible For Spirituality
Spirituality plays an important part in many peoples' daily life.
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What mechanism does determine why a person is more spiritual than others?
Our Brains Wired Like The Checkerboard Streets Of New York City!
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The most detailed images, to date, reveal a pervasive 3D grid structure with no diagonals, say scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Mysterious Brain Of Daniel Tammet - A Scientific Rosetta Stone
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Daniel Tammet may very well be a scientific Rosetta stone, a key to understanding our mysterious brain...
Entering The Worlds Of Moving Holograms
Moving holograms have long been considered science fiction, but now with new technology emerging you will soon be able to see how holograms
do almost everything, from watching TV, playing chess, walking the dog or even talking to you, giving you advice.
Holographic technology is not as new as many people think. The first holograms were invented by Dennis Gabor in 1947. He was trying to find
a method for improving the resolution of electron microscopes.