human brain neuroscience brain exhibit

  • Brain scientists at the University of California Berkeley placed electrodes on the outer layer of the brains of 16 patients and watched how a thought developed in their heads.
  • The insights shed new light on how the prefrontal cortex coordinates activity in the brain, like a conductor.
  • The researchers also saw that when the brain engages in simple tasks, our motor cortex begins to work very early, suggesting we’re sometimes preparing to respond before we’ve completely heard what’s being said.

What happens in the brain when you’re listening to a person’s voice or looking at their face?

Neuroscientists at the University of California Berkeley have some new answers to that question after peering inside the opened-up heads of 16 epilepsy patients.

The scientists’ aim was to track what happens as a thought is developing inside the brain.

They wound up with a near-perfect demonstration of how the front of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) directs what happens as a thought develops from perception into action.

Based on their results, published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, here’s what it looks like when people hear the word “humid” and repeat it back:


How do scientists venture inside the brain?

For this field trip into the brain, the scientists had to literally get inside the participants’ skulls. They used a process called “electrocorticography,” (ECoG) whereby several hundred electrodes are placed directly on to the surface of the brain. The patients in the study all agreed to take part in the experiment while their brains were being opened for a surgery anyway.


The ECoG method can more precisely detect where and how thinking is happening than the more common electroencephalography (EEG) scan, which only requires patients to wear electrodes on their scalp.

After the researchers set up the Read More Here