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What the Success of Brain Imaging Implies about the Neural Code

journal contribution
posted on 08.03.2017 by Olivia Guest
The success of fMRI places constraints on the nature of the neural code. The fact that researchers can infer similarities between neural representations, despite fMRI's limitations, implies that certain neural coding schemes are more likely than others. For fMRI to succeed given its low temporal and spatial resolution, the neural code must be smooth at the sub-voxel and functional level such that similar stimuli engender similar internal representations. Through proof and simulation, we determine which coding schemes are plausible given both fMRI's successes and its limitations in measuring neural activity. Deep neural network approaches, which have been forwarded as computational accounts of the ventral stream, are consistent with the success of fMRI, though functional smoothness breaks down in the later network layers. These results have implications for the nature of neural code and ventral stream, as well as what can be successfully investigated with fMRI.

Funding

Leverhulme Trust (Grant RPG-2014-075), the NIH (Grant 1P01HD080679), and a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award (Grant WT106931MA) to Bradley Love.

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