News

Listeners immerse themselves in audiobooks in very different ways – and this shows in the brain

In the future, a new brain research method could be used to study creativity
Tutkimuksessa arvioitiin, miten lähellä tai kaukana koehenkilöiden tuottamat sanalistaukset olivat merkityksen perusteella toisistaan. Kuva: Iiro Jääskeläinen.
estimations were made on how far the research subjects’ word lists were from each other. estimations were made on how far the research subjects’ word lists were from each other.

Researchers at Aalto University analysed how listeners immerse themselves in audiobooks by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and words that the story brings to mind. The study indicated that word lists resembling each other also predicted similarities in brain function.

In the study, 16 people listened to an audiobook written by Professor Iiro Jääskeläinen inside an fMRI device. After this, the same people listened to the story again in sections lasting between 3 and 5 seconds, and listed the words that came to their mind while they were listening.

For example, the following line in the story ‘went towards the bedroom door’ may, to some people, bring to mind a door handle, walking and a bedroom, while another person may recall a television, home and their favourite TV series. The visual images may also be different.

‘Instead of focusing on individual statements, the study examined immersion, or similarity in brain activity, in relation to the entire story’, Jääskeläinen says.

Word lists produced by the research subjects were assessed using a semantic tree and latent semantic analysis. In a semantic tree, dots represent concepts and arcs portray the relationships between concepts. For example, the words ‘dog’, ‘canine’ and ‘spaniel’ are close to each other in the tree, while ‘dog’ and ‘submarine’ are far apart. On the basis of this, estimations were made on how far the research subjects’ word lists were from each other.

Scientists discovered that similar words in the list predicted similarities in the test subjects’ brain activity, particularly in the area between the temporal and parietal lobe, which is important in language processing, and the visual cortex.

‘In the future, it will be interesting to see if this is caused by, for instance, cultural or personality differences’, Iiro Jääskeläinen says.

In meantime, the new method has various potential research applications: such as measuring creativity and its neural basis; or how people with different cultural backgrounds interpret the world in different ways.

 

Further information:

Full Article: Inferior parietal lobule and early visual areas support elicitation of individualized meanings during narrative listening

Iiro Jääskeläinen
Professor
Aalto University
[email protected]
Phone: 050 560 9503

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

Smart City Challenge
Research & Art Published:

Four smart city pilot projects start in January 2021

Altogether 71 ideas were proposed to the international challenge for smart cities. 
ARTS open science roadshow, pic of the session
Research & Art Published:

European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Finnish Forum webinar on 25th January

One of the speakers is Karel Luyben, the first president of the EOSC Association and a member of board at Aalto University.
Installation Talk 2020, Jarkko Niiranen
Research & Art Published:

Professor Jarkko Niiranen on the computational mechanics of microarchitectural solids and structures

'When developing models, we spend a lot of time on mathematical physics, numerical mathematics and computer programming, but the fundamental concepts of mechanics remain the same' says Niiranen in his installation talk.
A photo showing Dr. Dorothea Golze
Research & Art Published:

Computational physicist Dorothea Golze receives prestigious Emmy Noether Award

Dorothea Golze received funding from the German Research Foundation within the Emmy Noether Programme to establish her own junior research group at the Technical University of Dresden.