The Human Body Brain Essays

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By theory scientists from multiple disciplines are to work together instead of in competing isolated siloes.

Work at the Allen Institute for Brain Research, which was started on the human brain simulation goal by a former Microsoft co-founder, seems to adhere nicely to this model of broad collaboration.

Including a chapter by 2014 Nobel laureates May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser An unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, The Future of the Brain takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science.

A must-read for anyone trying to understand ambitious new research programs such as the Obama administration's BRAIN Initiative and the European Union's Human Brain Project, The Future of the Brain sheds light on the breathtaking implications of brain science for medicine, psychiatry, and even human consciousness itself.

It could be a good choice for people who want to get up-to-date with current progress in neurosciences and the outlook they offer.

I told the editor my name as he was inscribing this book for me after a science talk.The first section, “Mapping the Brain”, covers work to create standardized brain atlases, early delineation of functional connectionist maps (Connectomes), and the invention of a genetic tagging method allowing the potential of “bar-coding” all neurons in the brain.An encoded activity monitor detectable with new high-resolution scanning holds promise for allowing detailed activity patterns in a living brain to be tracked like never before.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.(As a former brain researcher, I found the method was way cool, involving the genetic insertion of DNA for a protein that fluoresces with the calcium fluxes associated with synaptic activity and microscopy which allows a “read” of cell activity changes in planar sheets processed by focal plane).This section leads naturally to the following one, “Simulation of the Brain”.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.It’s great to catch some of the fever dreams of brilliant and creative scientists over what leaps in understanding the brain and mind may soon be reachable.


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