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Temporally Dependent Mappings Between fMRI Responses and Natural Language Descriptions of Natural Stimuli

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May 17, 2017
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Several research groups have shown how to correlate fMRI responses to the meanings
of presented stimuli. This paper presents new methods for doing so when only a
natural language annotation is available as the description of the stimulus. We study
fMRI data gathered from subjects watching an episode of BBCs Sherlock [4], and
learn bidirectional mappings between fMRI responses and natural language representations.
We show how to leverage data from multiple subjects watching the same
movie to improve the accuracy of the mappings, allowing us to succeed at a scene
classification task with 72% accuracy (random guessing would give 4%) and at a scene
ranking task with average rank in the top 4% (random guessing would give 50%). The
key ingredients are (a) the use of the Shared Response Model (SRM) and its variant
SRM-ICA [5, 24] to aggregate fMRI data from multiple subjects, both of which are
shown to be superior to standard PCA in producing low-dimensional representations
for the tasks in this paper; (b) a sentence embedding technique adapted from the
natural language processing (NLP) literature [3] that produces semantic vector representation
of the annotations; (c) interpretably using previous timestep information
in the featurization of the predictor data.

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