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Brain activation remains same while reading different languages

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Brain activation remains same while reading different languages

New York, Nov 4 (IANS) Neural activation patterns in the brain remain same when we read different languages like English or Portuguese, finds a study.

“This tells us that, for the most part, the language we happen to learn to speak does not change the organisation of the brain,” said Marcel Just, Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in the US, in the study published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Semantic information is represented in the same place in the brain and the same pattern of intensities for everyone. Knowing this means that brain-to-brain or brain-to-computer interface can probably be the same for speakers of all languages,” Just added.

For the study, 15 native Portuguese speakers — eight were bilingual in Portuguese and English — read 60 sentences in Portuguese while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.

The university developed computational model was able to predict which sentences the participants were reading in Portuguese, based only on activation patterns.

The resulting brain images showed that the activation patterns for the 60 sentences were in the same brain locations and at similar intensity levels for both English and Portuguese sentences.

Additionally, the results revealed the activation patterns could be grouped into four semantic categories, depending on the sentence’s focus: people, places, actions and feelings.

“The cross-language prediction model demonstrated a meta-language prediction capability from neural signals across people, languages and bilingual status,” said Ying Yang, researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University.

fMRI brain scans can spot lies better than polygraph test

New York, Nov 4 (IANS) Scanning people’s brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, is significantly more effective way to spot lies than a traditional polygraph test, a new research has found.

The findings suggest that when it comes to lying, our brains are much more likely to give us away than sweaty palms or spikes in heart rate.

Polygraph, the only physiological lie detector in worldwide use since it was introduced in its present form more than 50 years ago, monitors individuals’ electrical skin conductivity, heart rate, and respiration during a series of questions.

Polygraph is based on the assumption that incidents of lying are marked by upward or downward spikes in these measurements.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that neuroscience experts without prior experience in lie detection, using fMRI data, were 24 per cent more likely to detect deception than professional polygraph examiners reviewing polygraph recordings.

It has been demonstrated that when someone is lying, areas of the brain linked to decision-making are activated, which lights up on an fMRI scan for experts to see.

“Polygraph measures reflect complex activity of the peripheral nervous system that is reduced to only a few parameters, while fMRI is looking at thousands of brain clusters with higher resolution in both space and time,” said the study’s lead author Daniel Langleben, Professor of Psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania in the US.

“While neither type of activity is unique to lying, we expected brain activity to be a more specific marker, and this is what I believe we found,” Langleben noted.

To compare the two technologies, 28 participants were given the so-called “Concealed Information Test” (CIT).

CIT is designed to determine whether a person has specific knowledge by asking carefully constructed questions, some of which have known answers, and looking for responses that are accompanied by spikes in physiological activity.

In the controlled comparison of the two technologies, the researchers found that fMRI spotted more lies.

The approach adds scientific data to the long-standing debate about this technology and builds the case for more studies investigating its potential real-life applications, such as evidence in the criminal legal proceedings.

“While the jury remains out on whether fMRI will ever become a forensic tool, these data certainly justify further investigation of its potential,” Langleben added.

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