Thursday, June 23, 2005

a 'Jennifer Aniston' cell?

In Nature this week, there's a report and a News and Views article supporting the previously dismissed idea of a "grandmother cell".
How do neurons in the brain represent movie stars, famous buildings and other familiar objects? Rare recordings from single neurons in the human brain provide a fresh perspective on the question.

'Grandmother cell' is a term coined by J. Y. Lettvin to parody the simplistic notion that the brain has a separate neuron to detect and represent every object (including one's grandmother). The phrase has become a shorthand for invoking all of the overwhelming practical arguments against a one-to-one object coding scheme. No one wants to be accused of believing in grandmother cells. But on page 1102 of this issue, Quiroga et al.3 describe a neuron in the human brain that looks for all the world like a 'Jennifer Aniston' cell. Ms Aniston could well become a grandmother herself someday. Are vision scientists now forced to drop their dismissive tone when discussing the neural representation of matriarchs?

A specific neuron responded to pictures of Ms. Aniston

But not however, when she was depicted with Brad Pitt
(watch that hand, Jennifer!)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

HAHAHA I laughed outloud when I read the caption under the 1st photo. The second one's funny, too.