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From EU research mag: New brain theory “as important as evolution”?

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Bright Idea From Horizon: the EU Research and Innovation Magazine,

Our brains make sense of the world by predicting what we will see and then updating these predictions as the situation demands, according to Lars Muckli, professor of neuroscience at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Glasgow, Scotland. He says that this predictive processing framework theory is as important to brain science as evolution is to biology.

From an interview with neuroscientist Lars Muckli,

‘The main purpose of the brain, as we understand it today, is it is basically a prediction machine that is optimising its own predictions of the environment it is navigating through. So, vision starts with an expectation of what is around the corner. Once you turn around the corner, you are then negotiating potential inputs to your predictions – and then responding differently to surprise and to fulfilment of expectations.

‘So that’s what’s called the predictive processing framework, and it’s a proposed unifying theory of the brain. It’s basically creating an internal model of what’s going to happen next.’

Yes, when we switch on a light in the office, we know roughly what we expect to see. And also know what we can expect to see in typical unpredictable situations:

‘You have forward models, so while you’re cycling, you predict the trajectory of the cars, of your own movement on the entire world, in real time. You update your predictions (of) the future model that you create in order to cycle through the city without being run over.

Where does evolution come in, specifically?

We seem to have this capability of mind-wandering and predicting alternative scenarios in (the) future. We think about: “What am I going to do tonight? Should I go to the shops?” And you do this while you’re cycling on your bike and so on, and it seems like you’re doing three things at a time – thinking about planning your birthday, riding your bike and also calculating your next bill. There seems to be two scenarios, the emerging now, and the alternative – the plan.

‘How did this evolve? What are the rules? And how is this created? Since it’s happening in the brain, then we need to find a description for that – how is the mind wandering?’ More.

It doesn’t sound as though the theory exists as yet. The Human Brain Project, which involves computer science, neuroscience, computational neuroscience, robotics and medicine, hopes to develop a theory.

They will, we hope, be cautious. There is no shortage of forgettable and conflicting theories as to how the human mind evolved.

See also: Researcher asks, if ecology caused the human brain to grow so large, what about the role of language?

Human evolution researchers: Social challenges decreased brain size Mathematical models are probably the closest thing to literary fiction that science offers. Ferrero tells us, “[o]ur approach offers a new way to understand brain evolution using little more than some maths.” It is good that no more resources were wasted on a thesis so inconclusive.

Homo naledi’s small but sophisticated brain challenges belief in “an inevitable march towards bigger, more complex brains.”


Human origins: The war of trivial explanations

Hardly new. This model of intelligence was common among the pre-digital cyberneticists from 1940 to 1980. Here's a definition of a good cybernetic system, a good model of living mind, from a 1975 British slectronics magazine. =========== 1. It must be able to receive external information coded in signals; 2. It must be able to store this information and hence have a memory; 3. It must be able to convert stored information into reactions. These reactions must be controlled, which means that external interference must always be effectively reacted to. Reactions do not conform to a previously fixed programme, but are always compared first with previous reactions and their results. All cybernetic control systems are based on this feedback principle. 4. Because they are capable of self-correction, cybernetic systems always display a purposeful behaviour. 5. Cybernetic systems are stable. By this we mean a dynamic stability which enables the system to return to a certain situation after a breakdown. Non-cybernetic machines cannot cope with external interference. They only function if possible causes of interference are known beforehand and if the appropriate countermeasures have been incorporated in the machine. A cybernetic machine, on the contrary, can also deal with interference not previously taken into consideration. 6. Higher-level cybernetic systems can learn. They can adapt their behaviour if experience gained gives them cause for doing so. ========== Note especially #4. Negative feedback + prediction = purpose. polistra
As to this quote:
"There seems to be two scenarios, the emerging now, and the alternative – the plan."
"The now", or more precisely, "The experience of 'the now'" is definitely not 'emerging' from the material brain but is, like free will, a primary, even defining, quality of the immaterial mind. Einstein once told a philosopher “The experience of ‘the now’ (of the immaterial mind) cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”
“The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.” - Albert Einstein Quote was taken from the last few minutes of this following video. Stanley L. Jaki: “The Mind and Its Now” https://vimeo.com/10588094
Yet, contrary to what Einstein thought was possible for experimental physics, in quantum mechanics 'the experience of the now' is very much a part of physical measurement, As the following researcher stated, "It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,"
Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, (Delayed Choice) quantum experiment confirms - Mind = blown. - FIONA MACDONALD - 1 JUN 2015 Excerpt: "It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it," lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release. http://www.sciencealert.com/reality-doesn-t-exist-until-we-measure-it-quantum-experiment-confirms
Indeed the instantaneous 'experience of 'the now' is practically the defining attribute of quantum mechanics that makes quantum mechanics so weird for people who first encounter quantum mechanics:
Albert Einstein vs. Quantum Mechanics and His Own Mind – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFFtZ301j4
In fact due to advances in quantum mechanics from many different lines of experimental evidence (as was shown in the preceding video), it would now be much more appropriate to phrase Einstein's answer to the philosopher in this way:
"It is impossible for the 'experience of 'the now' to ever be divorced from physical measurement, it will always be a part of physics."
Of supplemental note:
LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD - Vlatko Vedral - 2011 Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must explain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamentally spaceless and timeless physics. http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchang/Notes10b/0611038.pdf

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