new research into semantic categories

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 11 20:03:58 UTC 2010

No. Three categories, that are plausibly evolutionarily ancient, elicit
reactions in distinct parts of the brain as seen by this fMRI study. We also
"classify" people on sight by sex and age; does that statement imply that we
make no other distinctions? I don't think so.

The basic idea is that when a particular part of the brain is active, it
> receives more blood, and the increased blood flow can be seen by MRI
> machines. Researchers cannot directly tell what a person is thinking, but
> they can tell where the thinking is happening and infer from there, since
> certain parts of the brain are used for certain functions. In the context of
> the research, it was found that objects belonging to a particular dimension
> all triggered activity in a particular part of the brain.

m a m

On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 1:53 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

> At 2/8/2010 10:22 PM, James Harbeck wrote:
> >
> >
> >Some researchers at Carnegie Mellon have, with the aid of an MRI,
> >come to the conclusion that human brains classify all non-human
> >objects in terms of three dimensions: in plain, "Can I eat it? How do
> >I hold it? Can it give me shelter?"
> Is this as nonsensical as it sounds to me?  The human brain can only
> manage three properties for all non-human objects?  And two of those
> properties are the simplest of "enumerated" data types, namely
> "Boolean", which can take on only two values, "yes" or "no"?
> Apples are not red (usually), plums are not purple -- they are only
> "eatable = 'yes'"!
> Any relational database system can do better than
> that!  (Translating, "property" = column; "object" = "row".)
> Joel

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