You say toe-MAY-toe, and I say toe-MAH-toe. But I still know exactly what you mean: a big, round, juicy red veggie that slices up nice for the burgers. But how I know the difference between toe-MAH-toe and toe-MAY-toe is a mystery that has eluded neuroscientists. Until now.
In the many press releases I see on scientific topics, I’ve noticed a trend toward using neural network technology to analyze its biological namesakes, the neural networks in the human brain. One of the latest examples of this is research from a team of scientists at Hebrew University who have used computational neural networks to analyze the cellular processes by which sensory neurons adjust to differences in speech for the same word.
The differences in the way I say tomato and you say tomato are largely a matter of timing and durations, and these sounds are received by single nerve cells. The neural net algorithms devised by Dr. Robert Gutig and Dr. Haim Sompolinsky identify these differences by classifying the way the single nerve cells respond. This innovation will not only be useful in such speech decoding applications as telephone voice dialing, but they also have promise in treating auditory problems.
Toe-MAY-toe? Toe-MAH-toe? Let’s call the whole thing….Naw, the two brain scientists aren’t calling anything off. Their neural network is just getting started.