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  1. Lee, Kyoung Mu (Ed.)
    A recent paper claims that a newly proposed method classifies EEG data recorded from subjects viewing ImageNet stimuli better than two prior methods. However, the analysis used to support that claim is based on confounded data. We repeat the analysis on a large new dataset that is free from that confound. Training and testing on aggregated supertrials derived by summing trials demonstrates that the two prior methods achieve statistically significant above-chance accuracy while the newly proposed method does not. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Perlman, Marcus (Ed.)
    Longstanding cross-linguistic work on event representations in spoken languages have argued for a robust mapping between an event’s underlying representation and its syntactic encoding, such that–for example–the agent of an event is most frequently mapped to subject position. In the same vein, sign languages have long been claimed to construct signs that visually represent their meaning, i.e., signs that are iconic. Experimental research on linguistic parameters such as plurality and aspect has recently shown some of them to be visually universal in sign, i.e. recognized by non-signers as well as signers, and have identified specific visual cues that achieve this mapping. However, little is known about what makes action representations in sign language iconic, or whether and how the mapping of underlying event representations to syntactic encoding is visually apparent in the form of a verb sign. To this end, we asked what visual cues non-signers may use in evaluating transitivity (i.e., the number of entities involved in an action). To do this, we correlated non-signer judgments about transitivity of verb signs from American Sign Language (ASL) with phonological characteristics of these signs. We found that non-signers did not accurately guess the transitivity of the signs, but that non-signer transitivity judgments can nevertheless be predicted from the signs’ visual characteristics. Further, non-signers cue in on just those features that code event representations across sign languages, despite interpreting them differently. This suggests the existence of visual biases that underlie detection of linguistic categories, such as transitivity, which may uncouple from underlying conceptual representations over time in mature sign languages due to lexicalization processes. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
  4. null (Ed.)
    New results suggest strong limits to the feasibility of object classification from human brain activity evoked by image stimuli, as measured through EEG. Considerable prior work suffers from a confound between the stimulus class and the time since the start of the experiment. A prior attempt to avoid this confound using randomized trials was unable to achieve results above chance in a statistically significant fashion when the data sets were of the same size as the original experiments. Here, we attempt object classification from EEG using an array of methods that are representative of the state-of-the-art, with a far larger (20x) dataset of randomized EEG trials, 1,000 stimulus presentations of each of forty classes, all from a single subject. To our knowledge, this is the largest such EEG data-collection effort from a single subject and is at the bounds of feasibility. We obtain classification accuracy that is marginally above chance and above chance in a statistically significant fashion, and further assess how accuracy depends on the classifier used, the amount of training data used, and the number of classes. Reaching the limits of data collection with only marginally above-chance performance suggests that the prevailing literature substantially exaggerates the feasibility of object classification from EEG. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Acquisition of natural language has been shown to fundamentally impact both one’s ability to use the first language and the ability to learn subsequent languages later in life. Sign languages offer a unique perspective on this issue because Deaf signers receive access to signed input at varying ages. The majority acquires sign language in (early) childhood, but some learn sign language later—a situation that is drastically different from that of spoken language acquisition. To investigate the effect of age of sign language acquisition and its potential interplay with age in signers, we examined grammatical acceptability ratings and reaction time measures in a group of Deaf signers (age range = 28–58 years) with early (0–3 years) or later (4–7 years) acquisition of sign language in childhood. Behavioral responses to grammatical word order variations (subject–object–verb [SOV] vs. object–subject–verb [OSV]) were examined in sentences that included (1) simple sentences, (2) topicalized sentences, and (3) sentences involving manual classifier constructions, uniquely characteristic of sign languages. Overall, older participants responded more slowly. Age of acquisition had subtle effects on acceptability ratings, whereby the direction of the effect depended on the specific linguistic structure. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    A recent paper [1] claims to classify brain processing evoked in subjects watching ImageNet stimuli as measured with EEG and to employ a representation derived from this processing to construct a novel object classifier. That paper, together with a series of subsequent papers [2] , [3] , [4] , [5] , [6] , [7] , [8] , claims to achieve successful results on a wide variety of computer-vision tasks, including object classification, transfer learning, and generation of images depicting human perception and thought using brain-derived representations measured through EEG. Our novel experiments and analyses demonstrate that their results crucially depend on the block design that they employ, where all stimuli of a given class are presented together, and fail with a rapid-event design, where stimuli of different classes are randomly intermixed. The block design leads to classification of arbitrary brain states based on block-level temporal correlations that are known to exist in all EEG data, rather than stimulus-related activity. Because every trial in their test sets comes from the same block as many trials in the corresponding training sets, their block design thus leads to classifying arbitrary temporal artifacts of the data instead of stimulus-related activity. This invalidates all subsequent analyses performed on this data in multiple published papers and calls into question all of the reported results. We further show that a novel object classifier constructed with a random codebook performs as well as or better than a novel object classifier constructed with the representation extracted from EEG data, suggesting that the performance of their classifier constructed with a representation extracted from EEG data does not benefit from the brain-derived representation. Together, our results illustrate the far-reaching implications of the temporal autocorrelations that exist in all neuroimaging data for classification experiments. Further, our results calibrate the underlying difficulty of the tasks involved and caution against overly optimistic, but incorrect, claims to the contrary. 
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  7. null (Ed.)