Have you ever wondered how we make sense of the thousands of images flooding our retinas daily? According to scientists, the brain is wired to make sense out of all the categories of objects and actions that we see.
University of California, Berkeley (UCB) researchers have created the first interactive map of how the brain organises these groupings.
"Our methods open a door that will quickly lead to a more complete and detailed understanding of how the brain is organised. Already, our online brain viewer appears to provide the most detailed look ever at the visual function and organisation of a single human brain," said Alexander Huth, doctoral student in neuroscience at the UCB, who led the study.
A clearer understanding of how the brain organises visual input can help with the medical diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. These findings may also be used to create brain-machine interfaces, particularly for facial and other image recognition systems, according to an UCB statement.
"Our discovery suggests that brain scans could soon be used to label an image that someone is seeing, and may also help teach computers how to better recognise images," said Huth, who has produced a video and interactive website to explain the science of what the researchers found.
It has long been thought that each category of object or action humans see - people, animals, vehicles, household appliances and movements - is represented in a separate region of the visual cortex.
In this latest study, the researchers found that these categories are actually represented in highly organised, overlapping maps that cover as much as 20 percent of the brain, including the somatosensory and frontal cortices.