NSF's $13.1 million brain-research initiative includes Aude Oliva's work on memorability

Aude Oliva's NSF award will go towards helping predict what elements of images make them memorable.
Aude Oliva's NSF award will go towards helping predict what elements of images make them memorable.
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CSAIL principal investigator Aude Oliva has received a special research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a $13.1 million initiative to support "transformative research in neural and cognitive systems." 

One of the NSF's 16 grants will go towards Oliva's work on "algorithmically explicit neural representation of visual memorability."  Specifically, Oliva will look at how humans encode information, in order to predict what elements of images make them memorable or forgettable.

Her team uses complex neuro-imaging technologies to record:

1) where encoding happens in the human brain (spatial scale)

2) when it happens (temporal scale), and

3) what types of computation are performed at the different stages of storage (computational scale).

"Characterizing the spatiotemporal dynamics of visual memorability, and determining the type of computation and representation a successful memorability system performs, is a crucial endeavor for both basic and applied sciences," Oliva says.

Each NSF award brings together scientists and engineers from diverse fields to investigate brain-related mysteries. The awards fall within two themes: neuroengineering and brain-inspired concepts and designs, and individuality and variation. Each provides up to $1 million over two to four years.

"These new projects will explore big, exciting ideas in neuroscience to push hard against the boundaries of what we know," said Betty Tuller, NSF program director in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, who will help oversee the awards.