Introducing the brain: a prediction machine (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, August 04, 2022, 20:18 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

New investigation into how it works:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220804102557.htm

"Our brain works a bit like the autocomplete function on your phone -- it is constantly trying to guess the next word when we are listening to a book, reading or conducting a conversation. Contrary to speech recognition computers, our brains are constantly making predictions at different levels, from meaning and grammar to specific speech sounds. This is what researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University's Donders Institute discovered in a new study.

***

"The researchers analysed the brain activity of people listening to stories by Hemingway or about Sherlock Holmes. At the same time, they analysed the texts of the books using computer models, so called deep neural networks. This way, they were able to calculate for each word how unpredictable it was.

"For each word or sound, the brain makes detailed statistical expectations and turns out to be extremely sensitive to the degree of unpredictability: the brain response is stronger whenever a word is unexpected in the context. "By itself, this is not very surprising: after all, everyone knows that you can sometimes predict upcoming language. For example, your brain sometimes automatically 'fills in the blank' and mentally finishes someone else's sentences, for instance if they start to speak very slowly, stutter or are unable to think of a word. But what we have shown here is that this happens continuously. Our brain is constantly guessing at words; the predictive machinery is always turned on."

"'In fact, our brain does something comparable to speech recognition software. Speech recognisers using artificial intelligence are also constantly making predictions and are allowing themselves to be guided by their expectations, just like the autocomplete function on your phone. Nevertheless, we observed a big difference: brains predict not only words, but make predictions on many different levels, from abstract meaning and grammar to specific sounds.'"

Comment: the activity is recognized, but the exact brain mechanism processes are still unknown. As in the past I've always noted the brain is designed to help us use it.


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