Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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How AI Neural Networks Show That the Mind Is Not the Brain

A series of simple diagrams shows that, while AI learns faster than the human brain, the human mind tackles problems that stump AI

Recently, I’ve been arguing (here and here, for example) that we can use artificial neural networks (ANNs) to prove that the mind is not the brain. To recap, here is the logic of my argument: Premise A: neural networks can learn better than the brainPremise B: the human mind can learn better than a neural networkConclusion: the human mind can learn better than the brain, therefore it is not the brain This means if we can conclusively show the human mind can learn better than a neural network, then the mind is not the brain. For Premise A, I’ve argued that the differentiable neural network is a superior learning model compared to the brain neuron’s “all or nothing principle”. The…

Illustration of synapse and neuron on a blue background.

Brain Cells Can Mislead Each Other, Cause Mental Disorders

Neuroscientists: When cells talk to each other, due to faulty signals given to proteins, they don’t always say the right things

Recent research in how brain cells talk to one another may help treat anxiety and addiction disorders, as well as dementias. Brain cells talk to each other through synapses, where molecules whose chemistry is interpreted as information are released and travel to the next cell: When people learn or remember things, this signalling is strengthened. When communication between synapses goes wrong, circuits become broken. As more circuits are lost, this changes how people can think and perform everyday tasks. This is seen in cognitive disorders, such as forms of dementia and some mental health conditions. University of Nottingham, “Scientists gain new understanding of how brain cells talk – which could help in the treatment of mental health conditions and memory…

Active nerve cells

How Complex Is a Single Neuron in Your Brain?

An artificial intelligence network did not do nearly as well

Every single neuron in your brain is this complex: Today, the most powerful artificial intelligence systems employ a type of machine learning called deep learning. Their algorithms learn by processing massive amounts of data through hidden layers of interconnected nodes, referred to as deep neural networks. As their name suggests, deep neural networks were inspired by the real neural networks in the brain, with the nodes modeled after real neurons — or, at least, after what neuroscientists knew about neurons back in the 1950s, when an influential neuron model called the perceptron was born. Since then, our understanding of the computational complexity of single neurons has dramatically expanded, so biological neurons are known to be more complex than artificial ones.…

Nerve Cell. 3D. Neurons

Researchers Can’t Explain: Memories Drift From Neuron to Neuron

Memories are supposed to stay put in the neurons that lay them down. A recent study, published at Nature, shows that they move a lot…

“Scientists are meant to know what’s going on, but in this particular case, we are deeply confused”, a recent article at The Atlantic begins. It’s about the way nervous system cells don’t simply lay down memories and keep them. The memories drift from neuron to neuron, quite contrary to textbook claims and traditional neuroscience assumptions: The relatively simple explanation found in neuroscience textbooks is that specific groups of neurons reliably fire when their owner smells a rose, sees a sunset, or hears a bell. These representations—these patterns of neural firing—presumably stay the same from one moment to the next. But as Schoonover, Fink, and others have found, they sometimes don’t. They change—and to a confusing and unexpected extent. Schoonover, Fink,…

Active nerve cells

Human Neurons Are Different From Animal Ones, Researchers Say

A Canadian research team got a rare chance to compare live brain tissue from donors undergoing surgery with that of rodents

Most neuroscience studies on live neurons depend on animal neurons. But a group of researchers in Canada got the opportunity to study live neurons from 66 human donors undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy and tumors. So they had a chance to compare human with rodent neurons: “The goal of this study was to understand what makes human brain cells ‘human,’ and how human neuron circuitry functions as it does,” says Dr. Taufik Valiante, neurosurgeon, scientist at the Krembil Brain Institute at UHN and co-senior author on the paper. University Health Network, “Researchers Identify Unique Characteristics of Human Neurons” at Neuroscience News (May 3, 2021) Looking specifically at live human cortical pyramidal cells, they found “notable and unexpected differences between their…

Crossroad seen from Burj Kalifa

Bingecast: Yuri Danilov on the Complexity of our Brains

Recent discoveries about the brain have uncovered more of its complexity and changed what we thought we knew about it. Will more discoveries in the future change our views again? Robert J. Marks discusses neuroplasticity, restoring brain function through brain stimulation, and other fascinating discoveries about the human brain with Yuri Danilov. Show Notes 0:01:13 | Introducing Yuri Danilov, Senior…

CloseUp Shot Of Man With a prosthetic limb Holding Hands With Female Partner

Prosthetic Hand Controlled by Thoughts Alone? It’s Here.

Decades ago, no one could control a prosthesis only by thought. There is lots of room for the field to grow still

A key problem for amputees is that the nerves in the remaining part of a limb used to control a prosthesis usually produce only tiny signals. They are often hard for the nervous system to distinguish from mere noise. So, to control the limb by thoughts, the signals must be amplified. A new technique uses muscle grafts to amplify the signals.

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Bingecast: JP Moreland on Changing the Pathways of Your Brain

Philosopher JP Moreland shares how twice he was incapacitated for months by panic attacks and anxiety. His new book, Finding Quiet, seeks to make the most of his suffering, condensing the crucial lessons learned from his research. He and guest host Mike Keas address the relative evidence for the soul and the brain, the integration of faith with knowledge from…

Human head in silhouette apparently on fire

The Human Brain: Even Basic Facts Are Hotly Contested

Keep that in mind when AI boosters claim that their product will function like a human brain

When we read that “Scientists Are Closer to Making Artificial Brains That Operate Like Ours Do”, we might ask: If career researchers dispute the question of how the brain works at basic levels, how can non-experts be so sure they have replicated it?

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