History’s Top Brain Computation Insights: Day 1

It is hard to maintain historical perspective as neuroscience progresses. Today's complications and confusions seem to cloud the clear insights of the past. This is inevitable when trying to understand the brain, the most complex computational device known.

The plan here is to highlight history's major brain computational insights in the interest of integrating them into a single description of what we know to date.

This description will concisely summarize what science has learned about brain computation. Neuroscientists, artificial intelligence researchers, psychologists, and many others will hopefully find it helpful for gaining perspective and integrating concepts important for their research. Laymen will likely find it useful for learning the major findings in cognitive neuroscience.

The description will be necessarily biased by my own perspective, and will overlook many important contributions for those that clearly add to our understanding of how the brain computes behavior. Feel free to modify/add insights in the comments section.

The plan: One insight per day (in historically chronological order) for the next month, culminating in a single large post listing and integrating them all.

We start with a very simple, yet extremely important, insight… 

1) The brain computes the mind (Hippocrates- 460-379 B.C.)

It is ironic that some still wonder if there is anything more to the mind than the brain when a man at the dawn of civilization and science could figure it out.

"Men ought to know that from nothing else but thence [from the brain] come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations." – Hippocrates
One needs only to see a few brain damaged patients, try a drug (like alcohol), or see someone knocked out from a head/brain trauma to be convinced.

Implication: The mind is implemented in a biological organ.


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1 Comment

  1. G’day MC,

    Hippocrates offered his philosophical opinion on this issue. I am not decided upon this.

    This is the reason why I think you might be correct;

    If the mind is not a direct product/implementation of neural activity then it must effect the brain all of the time – as the brain knows/remembers consciousness. (Obviously this action could not by definition be scientifically verified as it would lie within noise/physical probability of events). It is therefore simpler to assume the mind is a direct product/implementation of neural activity.

    This is the reason why I think you might be incorrect;

    Philosophically, what is the point of the mind if it does not do anything?

    Thanks for your articles MC they are very interesting. I am working on neural network software myself and have found some very useful references.


    [[Are we sure we know people’s dreams?]]

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