Feeds

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

Cunning noggin algorithm favours curves over flatness

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.