Towards Sentence-Level Brain Decoding with Distributed Representations

  • Jingyuan Sun Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Shaonan Wang Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Jiajun Zhang Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Chengqing Zong Chinese Academy of Sciences

Abstract

Decoding human brain activities based on linguistic representations has been actively studied in recent years. However, most previous studies exclusively focus on word-level representations, and little is learned about decoding whole sentences from brain activation patterns. This work is our effort to mend the gap. In this paper, we build decoders to associate brain activities with sentence stimulus via distributed representations, the currently dominant sentence representation approach in natural language processing (NLP). We carry out a systematic evaluation, covering both widely-used baselines and state-of-the-art sentence representation models. We demonstrate how well different types of sentence representations decode the brain activation patterns and give empirical explanations of the performance difference. Moreover, to explore how sentences are neurally represented in the brain, we further compare the sentence representation’s correspondence to different brain areas associated with high-level cognitive functions. We find the supervised structured representation models most accurately probe the language atlas of human brain. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first comprehensive evaluation of distributed sentence representations for brain decoding. We hope this work can contribute to decoding brain activities with NLP representation models, and understanding how linguistic items are neurally represented.

Published
2019-07-17
Section
AAAI Technical Track: Natural Language Processing