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Neuroskeptic: Research casts doubt on the idea that the brain is a machine with parts

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Bright IdeaA machine with parts that each do one thing. From Neuroskeptic at Discover:

This “behavior-first” approach has revealed many associations between particular functions and particular brain regions. However, Genon et al. say, it has become clear that any given behavioral function involves more than one brain region, and it may be that there is no ‘necessary and sufficient brain area’ for any behavioral function.

his is a fascinating paper. I wonder, however, whether we might end up discovering that all brain regions – or at least, the bulk of the cerebral cortex – have the same core cognitive function? It might be that most of the cortical ‘modules’ are actually doing the same kind of processing, but operating on different inputs.

To give a simple example, a brain area which mainly gets auditory input will light up in response to different stimuli compared to one that gets visual input, but they might be doing the same basic operations on the input. I don’t think anyone knows, yet, whether different cortical areas are truly doing different computations.More.

Paper. (public access) Neuroscience would have been so easy if the brain operated like a machine. This new approach is overdue.

Note: Neuroskeptic explains the decision to remain anonymous: day job elsewhere.

That suggests, of course, that Neuro is a real skeptic. The people who usually post at “skeptical” websites are almost all poseurs, fronting an establishment view in an edgy format.

See also: Replication crisis: Neuroskeptic on foxes guarding the henhouse

and

Neuroskeptic: The war on falsifiability suggests science is broken?

One Reply to “Neuroskeptic: Research casts doubt on the idea that the brain is a machine with parts

  1. 1
    Charles says:

    Indeed, presuming the brain is like an electro-mechanical translator (sorta like a very complex Enigma machine) is myopic.

    It is not “hard-wired”.

    It is more like a very complicated associative-memory parallel-processing hybrid-computer with software that reorganizes and relocates itself, sorta like how it patches itself around damaged brain tissue and keeps functioning (albeit imperfectly) even when chunks of it are cut away or severed.

    And then there is the mind which is associated with the brain, yet not a part of it.

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