Language SemanticsHow is the meaning of language represented in the human brain? In earlier work we explored representations of meaning at the scale of single words, revealing complex maps across association cortex. We now aim to use similar technology to explore how phrases and sentences, not just single words, are represented by activity in the human cortex. Although our previous work used one of the largest language datasets ever collected on single subjects using fMRI, even that amount of data is much too small to test models of language understanding that incorporate the relationships between words, which give rise to context and compositionality. Thus, one of our major aims is to collect incredibly, unprecedentedly large datasets from single subjects. This will enable us to test large-scale nonlinear models that have never before been used to predict human fMRI data.
Grounded Language RepresentationsLanguage serves as a gateway to cognition. Words have the capacity to elicit incredibly complex cognitive processing in our heads, giving experimental access to many different aspects of cognition. Thus, by studying how the brain represents the meaning of language we can simultaneously explore how and where in the cortex many different cognitive processes function. We are particularly interested in the interplay between language and other modalities, such as spatial reasoning, visual processing, and somatosensory processing.