Friday, July 12, 2013

Tutorial A4: Tong

Friday July 12 13:00-16:00

A4: Deciphering the information contained in patterns of human brain activity

Frank Tong (Dep’t of Psychology, Vanderbilt University)

Surprisingly detailed information about visual and mental states can be decoded from non-invasive mea- sures of human brain activity. Brain decoding approaches have successfully revealed what a person is seeing, perceiving, attending to, or remembering. Multidimensional models can further be used to investi- gate how the brain encodes complex visual scenes or abstract semantic information, and to reconstruct the stimulus that was viewed. Such feats of “brain reading” or “mind reading”, though impressive, raise impor- tant conceptual, methodological, as well as ethical issues. What does successful decoding reveal about the sensory or cognitive functions performed by a brain region? How should brain signals be spatially selected and mathematically combined, to ensure that decoding reflects inherent computations of the brain rather than those performed by the decoder? What ethical considerations might emerge with the advancement of these methodologies? The tutorial will cover the fundamentals of “brain reading”, and should be suitable for people from a broad range of backgrounds, with one component emphasizing the more technical and mathematical aspects of pattern classification. Questions and interactive discussion will be emphasized, especially when considering the strengths and limitations of fMRI pattern analysis methods.

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