How the Brain Knows What It Knows
scientists were given the description of a silicon mouse that could
understand the word "one." Based on a thorough description of the mouse's
nervous system, the challenge was to figure out how the mouse did it. Dr.
Brody said Dr. Hopfield had discovered that something called synchronous
rhythm was the key to solving the puzzle, and they wanted to see if other
scientists would come to the same conclusion.
Sights, sounds, smells, textures and other information flowing into the
brain arrive not all at once but over brief intervals of time, he explained.
For example, a spoken word may have several consonants and vowels that
unfold over a half second, and somehow the brain cells have to bridge this
The brain does this by exploiting the fact that cells involved in
recognizing various aspects of the word produce identical firing patterns,
Dr. Hopfield said. Cells that fire with the same rhythm fall into the same
marching step, as the bits and pieces of the word are comprehended by the
brain. Meanwhile, cells that fire at slightly different rates are not
reinforced and fall out of step. This fundamental synchrony is crucial to
comprehension, he said.
I think I must add "free will" to the list of "consciousness" "phlogiston"
"vitalism" and "mind" as examples of useless hypotheses.
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