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Brain Physics Engine Located: Science Could Help Robot, Medical Tech

Brain Physics Engine Located: Science Could Help Robot, Medical Tech

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By    |   Wednesday, 10 August 2016 03:50 PM

The brain has a "physics engine" that understands and predicts how objects will behave, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

Located in the region of the brain devoted to planning actions, this so-called physics engine "performs constant, real-time physics calculations so people are ready to catch, dodge, hoist — any necessary actions on the fly," the university said in a news release.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help scientists develop more sophisticated robots or understand movement disorders such as apraxia.

“We run physics simulations all the time to prepare us for when we need to act in the world,” lead author Jason Fischer said in the release. “It is among the most important aspects of cognition for survival. But there has been almost no work done to identify and study the brain regions involved in this capability.”

Fischer is an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Along with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fischer conducted a series of studies to locate the part of the brain where these activities occur.

Participants watched videos of an unsteady tower of blocks and predicted which direction the tower might fall, revealing that premotor cortex and the supplementary motor areas of the brain were stimulated.

A video of the test was posted on YouTube.

“It’s hard to appreciate just what a role physical reasoning plays in your daily life until you start paying attention to the things that you do,” Fischer told The Huffington Post.

The study revealed that physics intuition and action planning are intimately linked in the brain, and researchers said this may be because of the way infants learn about the world as they handle objects.

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The brain has a "physics engine" that understands and predicts how objects will behave, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.
brain, physics, engine
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2016-50-10
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 03:50 PM
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