stephen_grossberg's picture
Principal founders of the fields of computational neuroscience, connectionist cognitive science, and artificial neural network research
How does a brain give rise to a mind?

When we think about our conscious experiences of the world, we are aware of vivid colors, sounds, and feelings. These seem to occur in a world of three spatial dimensions evolving through time. When we look at a typical brain, we see an unbelievably intricate web of networks energized by electrical and chemical processes. These networks often have incredibly large numbers of components. Given such different levels of description, it has been difficult to comprehend how a brain can give rise to a mind.

During the past decade, theorists of mind and brain have finally been able to model the detailed temporal dynamics of known brain cells and circuits...AND the observable behaviors that they control, using the same model. Thus, for the first time in history, there are theories powerful enough to begin to explicitly show how our minds arise from our brains.

The exciting thing about this progress is that, in every case, it depends upon qualitatively new concepts and theories about how our brains adapt on their own, moment - by - moment, to a rapidly changing world. Many outstanding problems in technology also require that an intelligent agent adapt on its own, moment-by-mo ment, to a rapidly changing world. These new concepts and theories have therefore begun to find their way into new technological applications.

Thus the new progress about how our brains work promises to provide a more human technology. The story has not been adequately reported because the new concepts are qualitatively new — for the same reason that brains seem to be so different from minds — and many reporters have not taken the time to understand them.