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      Decoding the visual and subjective contents of the human brain

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      Nature Neuroscience

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          The potential for human neuroimaging to read out the detailed contents of a person's mental state has yet to be fully explored. We investigated whether the perception of edge orientation, a fundamental visual feature, can be decoded from human brain activity measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Using statistical algorithms to classify brain states, we found that ensemble fMRI signals in early visual areas could reliably predict on individual trials which of eight stimulus orientations the subject was seeing. Moreover, when subjects had to attend to one of two overlapping orthogonal gratings, feature-based attention strongly biased ensemble activity toward the attended orientation. These results demonstrate that fMRI activity patterns in early visual areas, including primary visual cortex (V1), contain detailed orientation information that can reliably predict subjective perception. Our approach provides a framework for the readout of fine-tuned representations in the human brain and their subjective contents.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Distributed and overlapping representations of faces and objects in ventral temporal cortex.

          The functional architecture of the object vision pathway in the human brain was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure patterns of response in ventral temporal cortex while subjects viewed faces, cats, five categories of man-made objects, and nonsense pictures. A distinct pattern of response was found for each stimulus category. The distinctiveness of the response to a given category was not due simply to the regions that responded maximally to that category, because the category being viewed also could be identified on the basis of the pattern of response when those regions were excluded from the analysis. Patterns of response that discriminated among all categories were found even within cortical regions that responded maximally to only one category. These results indicate that the representations of faces and objects in ventral temporal cortex are widely distributed and overlapping.
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            Control of a two-dimensional movement signal by a noninvasive brain-computer interface in humans.

            Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) can provide communication and control to people who are totally paralyzed. BCIs can use noninvasive or invasive methods for recording the brain signals that convey the user's commands. Whereas noninvasive BCIs are already in use for simple applications, it has been widely assumed that only invasive BCIs, which use electrodes implanted in the brain, can provide multidimensional movement control of a robotic arm or a neuroprosthesis. We now show that a noninvasive BCI that uses scalp-recorded electroencephalographic activity and an adaptive algorithm can provide humans, including people with spinal cord injuries, with multidimensional point-to-point movement control that falls within the range of that reported with invasive methods in monkeys. In movement time, precision, and accuracy, the results are comparable to those with invasive BCIs. The adaptive algorithm used in this noninvasive BCI identifies and focuses on the electroencephalographic features that the person is best able to control and encourages further improvement in that control. The results suggest that people with severe motor disabilities could use brain signals to operate a robotic arm or a neuroprosthesis without needing to have electrodes implanted in their brains.
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              Feature-based attention influences motion processing gain in macaque visual cortex.

              Changes in neural responses based on spatial attention have been demonstrated in many areas of visual cortex, indicating that the neural correlate of attention is an enhanced response to stimuli at an attended location and reduced responses to stimuli elsewhere. Here we demonstrate non-spatial, feature-based attentional modulation of visual motion processing, and show that attention increases the gain of direction-selective neurons in visual cortical area MT without narrowing the direction-tuning curves. These findings place important constraints on the neural mechanisms of attention and we propose to unify the effects of spatial location, direction of motion and other features of the attended stimuli in a 'feature similarity gain model' of attention.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Neuroscience
                Nat Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                May 2005
                April 24 2005
                May 2005
                : 8
                : 5
                : 679-685
                Article
                10.1038/nn1444
                1808230
                15852014
                © 2005

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