Feeds

Your mind's '.brain' jpeg-like picture file format probed

Cunning noggin algorithm favours curves over flatness

Top three mobile application threats

Top boffins say they have gained insights into one of the most amazing capabilities of the human brain – its ability to store and recognise visual images. They say that the noggin compresses pictures in a process roughly as efficient in terms of storage space as turning photos into jpegs – but one much superior for the purpose of using the data subsequently.

“Computers can beat us at math and chess,” says neuroscientist Ed Connor, “but they can’t match our ability to distinguish, recognize, understand, remember, and manipulate the objects that make up our world. For now, at least, the ‘.brain’ format seems to be the best compression algorithm around.”

Human eyes produce roughly megapixel imagery, but the brain doesn't have enough storage to cope with much of this so it needs to turn the info into '.brain' files that it can work with later.

Connor and his colleagues' research involved creating a computer simulation of the cells in the "V4" area of primate brains such as yours and mine. It seems that V4 cells' response to images from the eye is strongly sensitive to to the amount of curve or angle in objects perceived. According to a statement accompanying the research:

High-curvature regions are relatively rare in natural objects, compared to flat and shallow curvature. Responding to rare features rather than common features is automatically economical.

According to the braincell sims, compressing out flat, shallow parts of pictures and keeping the curved or pointy bits can yield "an 8-fold decrease in the number of cells responding to each image, comparable to the file size reduction achieved by compressing photographs into the .jpeg format".

But such .brain pictures, stripped of much of the information on flat bits, are still good for subsequent recognition of objects, faces etc.

“Psychological experiments have shown that subjects can still recognize line drawings of objects when flat edges are erased. But erasing angles and other regions of high curvature makes recognition difficult,” says Connor.

The research is outlined in a paper titled A Sparse Object Coding Scheme in Area V4 which was published yesterday in the journal Current Biology. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.