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Alona Fyshe

Dr. Alona Fyshe is a Computer Scientist by training, but her research straddles multiple research areas including neuroscience, machine learning and computational linguistics. Dr. Fyshe’s lab explores how the human brain processes and represents language meaning (semantics), and how the brain combines words to make complex meaning (semantic composition). Traditionally, models of semantics have been based on large text datasets. These models are useful to a point, but to build complete semantic models, we need to incorporate experiential knowledge. One way to do that is to study semantics “in vivo,” using brain imaging technology like fMRI and EEG.

Currently, brain image datasets are very small, and represent about an hour of acquisition time per participant. Dr. Fyshe proposes to move brain imaging to the “field”, and have participants record their own brain images, using consumer-grade EEG systems deployed in the home. This will produce much larger datasets, allowing Dr. Fyshe to more fully explore the complexities of language. Furthermore, developing techniques for collecting quality EEG data in the home could change the way we detect and diagnose neurological disorders, and change the way we monitor therapeutic interventions for mental illness.

Relevant Publications

Haoyan Xu, Brian Murphy, and Alona Fyshe. "BrainBench: A Brain-Image Test Suite for Distributional Semantic Models." Empirical Methods for Natural Language Processing, Austin, Texas, 2016.

A. Fyshe, Partha et al, "Interpretable Semantic Vectors from a Joint Model of Brain- and Text- Based Meaning," The 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Baltimore, Maryland, 2014.

L. Wehbe et al, "Simultaneously uncovering the patterns of brain regions involved in different story reading subprocesses," PLoS ONE, 9(11): e112575, 2014.

A. Fyshe et al, "Documents and Dependencies: an Exploration of Vector Space Models for Semantic Composition," International Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2013.

G. Sudre et al, "Tracking Neural Coding Of Perceptual And Semantic Features Of Concrete Nouns," Neuroimage 62(1) 451-463, 2012.

A. Fyshe et al, "Hierarchical Latent Dictionaries for Models of Brain Activation," Fifteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, 2012.



CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Azrieli Program in Brain, Mind & Consciousness


University of VictoriaDepartment of Computer Science


PhD (Machine Learning) Carnegie Mellon University

MSc University of Alberta

BSc University of Alberta



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