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The brain dictionary

3 minutes

See how our brains group words by meaning in surprisingly complex semantic maps

A groundbreaking new study from the Gallant Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley is transforming how scientists understand language organisation in the brain. Published in Nature on 28 April 2016, the paper ‘Natural Speech Reveals the Semantic Maps That Tile Human Cerebral Cortex’ reveals that we use our entire brain – and not just the temporal lobe, as once believed – to group words by meaning. And while every ‘brain dictionary’ appears to be unique, they share some surprising similarities. To learn more about the research, explore the interactive map based on the study at the Gallant Laboratory’s website.

Video by Nature

Animator: Alexander Huth

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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