The Human Body Brain Essays

Several contributors in the volume highlight this knowledge gap, which is expressed clearly at the close of a Wikipedia article on Connectomes: Just as detailed road maps of the earth's surface do not tell us much about the kind of vehicles that travel those roads or what cargo they are hauling, to understand how neural structures result in specific functional behavior such as consciousness, it is necessary to build theories that relate functions to anatomical connectivity .The section on “Computation” covers extensive work on computer analysis of brain circuit operations and initial planning for how to deal with the massive data generated by new techniques to monitor the activity of thousands of cells at the same time.This collection of summary and speculation by cognitive and computational neuroscientists is both enticing and disappointing.

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Hey wrote: "To Chris from Gary" and drew a brain that looked more like a Cashew.

Somehow that feels spot on given the book's subject matter.

In recent years there has been much discussion, and coverage in current scientific media, about physics (e.g.: relativity and quantum mechanics) and DNA sequencing (understanding the human genome).

It seems however after reading this book that research into the nature and functioning of the human brain has not been adequately covered in the popular press and the details of this research are largely, unknown or at least underappreciated by the non-scientific community.

However, the book may be important for most neuroscientists to peruse, despite the relatively small fraction of the roughly 40,000 neuroscientists worldwide working in areas related to the topics covered in the book.

It would give them a chance to sample the big ambitions afloat and to understand where a lot of research funding is going to be being focused.It feels like “pie in the sky” to me, but, hey, like Browning wrote, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for.” This applies especially to a short following section dealing with implications for understanding human language.Ditto for the dream of rapid advancement in solutions for mental illness, Alzheimers, autism, etc.I got the most mileage out of brief representation from the field of rehabilitation and the promise of effective brain-machine interfaces, a chapter placed in a final section called “Implications.”This book is not something I can recommend to satisfy the interests of average readers.I would recommend instead a book of more open speculation by the physicist Kaku, The Future of the Mind, whose goal was to guess where we will be in 100 years.Ultimately, there is not much here to satisfy the pent-up demand of the public for some take-home messages and to participate in the excitement behind the push for expensive new initiatives.However, neuroscientists of every stripe should check the book out for its effective manifesto in support of a movement toward a Big Science approach to so-far intractable questions about the brain and complex mental capacities.The hope is that the field of artificial intelligence can get out of the doldrums it’s been in since the 60’s by emulating the circuit operations of real brains.The efforts at simulation of activity patterns of various networks involved in behaviors or cognitive tasks are expected benefit from checking of predictions with performance of real operational patterns, and, in turn, simulation constructs that work well should be applicable as algorithms to make sense of the vast data streams of neuronal activity sequences from live brains.Otherwise, I am dubious that the initiatives will yield the same level of bang for the buck as the Human Genome Project they are being compared to (.8 billion investment yielding an economic output estimated at about 800 billion).Then again, I had my doubts about the wisdom of that project and worried at the time about it taking funding from more fruitful work.


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