From the New York Times:
We know that there must be some lawful relation between assemblies of neurons and the elements of thought, but we are currently at a loss to describe those laws. We don’t know, for example, whether our memories for individual words inhere in individual neurons or in sets of neurons, or in what way sets of neurons might underwrite our memories for words, if in fact they do.
The problem with both of the big brain projects is that too few of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent are devoted to spanning this conceptual chasm. Both projects are making important contributions: the European effort is helping build infrastructure for data integration; the American project is emphasizing the development of state-of-the-art tools for collecting new kinds of data. But as anyone in a field richer in data than theory (like weather forecasting) can tell you, amassing data is only a start.
The success of both the Human Brain Project and the Brain Initiative will ultimately rest not just on the data to be collected but also on what can be done with those data once they are collected. On that, too little has been said.
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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose