Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley published a paper in the Nature journal. In their most recent study, they used fMRI machines to track the specific parts of the brain that reacted when different words were used. The data discovered was used to create a three dimensional model which displays the regions of the brain that are associated with different meanings – words were separated into categories for better organization.
The researchers organized words heard in the show into twelve groups based on meaning. For example, they created a “numeric” group for number words and a “violent” group for words implying conflict. They then divided the brain into small regions that activate together when hearing a word. By cross-referencing these two datasets they were able to identify the correlations between the meanings of words and the parts of the brain that react to them.
Though the they only tested seven individuals, the fMRI data showed that all their reactions were similar. The authors speculate this could be due to common upbringing, but it may also indicate that there is a biological explanation for how meaning is organized in the brain.
The authors used their data to create a three-dimensional model of what regions are associated with which meanings. They’ve made that model available online. Try clicking around in the brain to see the individual clusters of words. Also “unfold” the brain to see what words are lurking inside those gray folds.