Our analog brains

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by arigram, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I thought this quote from Slashdot was fun:

    Roland Piquepaille writes "We're using computers for so long now that I guess that many of you think that our brains are working like clusters of computers. Like them, we can do several things 'simultaneously' with our 'processors.' But each of these processors, in our brain or in a cluster of computers, is supposed to act sequentially. Not so fast! According to a new study from Cornell University, this is not true, and our mental processing is continuous. By tracking mouse movements of students working with their computers, the researchers found that our learning process was similar to other biological organisms: we're not learning through a series of 0's and 1's. Instead, our brain is cascading through shades of grey."
     
  2. shyguy

    shyguy Member

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    So that's why i prefer black and white to color!

    S.
     
  3. colivet

    colivet Member

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    Sometimes it amazes me how long it takes for science to find out the earth is not flat when just looking at the horizon reveals that it is not.
     
  4. arigram

    arigram Member

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    That what science is all about:
    Spending millions of hours and money to research are re-discover things we already know then just stick a label that says: "Approved by Science".
     
  5. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    More like a slide ruler than a digital computer. For those interested William Power wrote a book in the mid 70's titled Behavior the Control of Perception about the analog brain.
     
  6. haris

    haris Guest

    Not the point. Point is you have to prove something to someone who doubt in "things we already know". That is science all about. Oh, and of course to say "Look I am more clever than rest of you people, because I am scientist" :smile:
     
  7. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Ha! that explains why a slide ruler is so intuitive and awesome as a calculator!
    I love the circular ones

     
  8. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Many avid slashdot readers, maybe. Anyone who's paid even the slightest attention to philosophy and neuroscience, no.
     
  9. 127

    127 Member

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    A neuron either fires or doesn't... A 1 or a 0. There are lots of them, an they don't work sequentially but they're esentially either on or off.

    A bit like a silver halide crystal - it either get's developed or it doesn't - thats a 1 or a 0 too... (but there are lots of them arranged more inteligently than in a digital sensor).

    Ian
     
  10. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    While it true that a single neuron is either off or on, neural pathways are comprised of bundles of neurons and it is the number of neurons that are firing (transmitting a signal) that determines the power of the signal which eventual results in a behavior or cognitive activity. The chemical process that leads a neuron to fire is also analog. In a rear instance the firing of a single neuron may start a cascade of neurons firing, but for the most part the firing of any one single neuron has has no meaning for the system. Without the development of as many silver halide crystals as are required to create a pattern that provides visual image and useful information the development of a single crystal is meaningless (in terms of creating useful information).
     
  11. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Contrary to conventional wisdom, I find that my neurons fire much better after one or two pints!
     
  12. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    That's wrong, plain and simply false, and besides the brain has massive redundancy and similitude. It is not serial, nor even parallel. If you want to hunt for a metaphor, you might look to 'concensus' for how the brain works, but not in the digital way.

    In any age people use what they think is familar to make metaphors. The brain is not earth, wind, fire, a steam-engine, or a godness, and it sure as hell ain't digital.
     
  13. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Contrary to Contrary, a health condition known as Essential Tremor (ET) is more responsive to moderate amounts alcohol with fewer side effects than modern medicines. I kid you not.
     
  14. 127

    127 Member

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    "A neuron operates by receiving signals from other neurons through connections, called synapses. The combination of these signals, in excess of a certain threshold or activation level, will result in the neuron firing, that is sending a signal on to other neurons connected to it. "

    http://www.cheshireeng.com/Neuralyst/nnbg.htm


    "When a neuron sends an excitatory signal to another neuron, then this signal will be added to all of the other inputs of that neuron. If it exceeds a given threshold then it will cause the target neuron to fire an action potential, if it is below the threshold then no action potential occurs."

    http://www.mindcreators.com/NeuronBasics.htm

    A neuron either fires or it doesn't. Just because there are lots of them, connected in interesting ways doesn't change that. The operation is nothing like a computer, but it's still based on a firing/not firing binary mechanism.

    Ian
     
  15. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I, too, was taught that neurons either fire or they don't - no "analog" quality.
    Not why I am commenting, though ... The information on that web site is interesting .. except for the "Speed of light in a wire is about 200,00 meters per second - about 2/3rds of the speed of light in - did it say "free air"? - if it did, that should have been "In a vacuum".
    However - the "Speed of light in a wire"??? Light has a hell of a lot of trouble getting though a metallic wire. Possibly the writer meant to say "The speed of electricity in a wire ..?"

    Enough. This constitutes my nit-picking quota for the day.
     
  16. Pete H

    Pete H Member

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    The firing threshhold varies according to local chemical concentrations so the transmitted signal is binary, but there are analogue controls and feedback.
     
  17. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Ian, I appreciate what you are pointing out, however the firing of any synapse is negotiated by other principles which are overwhelmingly more numerous and entirely analog. Look to the way molecules work by mechanical (topograhical) fittings, for example, and when an author writes that a synapse 'fires' electrically, the author is using an inappropriate metaphor; the physics are not the same as light/electrical wave radiation. Our nerves are not fiber-optical. Wow - if they were... but I digress.

    Finally, there is so much more yet to understand, and so far it is all analog except perhaps for one truly intriguing theory that brain cells (in concert) exploit the structure of micro-tubules to achieve quantum-mechanical effects - and that's not digital either; not by a long shot. This is not kook science, but a theory of probably the finest physicist/mathematician alive today, Sir. Roger Penrose.

    Enough. :smile: I need coffee and rest. (Honestly, once I get out of this temporary physical invalid state I won't spew off at the fingers as much.)
     
  18. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    My turn :smile: !

    Shouldn't it have said "the speed of electromagnetic radiation in a wire?" Visible light, electricity, and radio signals, as well as infrared and ultaviolet light and nuclear radiation are all forms of electromagnetic radiation and travel at the same speed...in a vacuum...I think...

    Has this ever happened to you? You and a buddy are trying to remember the name of a band you heard on the radio and it's just killing you, because you're soooo close to remembering it. Finally you give up. Hours after giving up, with no warning and without even thinking of it again, the name of the band pops into your head! Your brain, independent of your conscious you, remained at the task and beligerently kept chewing away at the problem...freaks me out every time!!

    Murray
     
  19. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    My head hurts .....
     
  20. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Things were much easier when I played with a pair of coffee cans and a string...the speed of light transmuted through twisted hemp cord and reproduced in the Maxwell House index thermocoupled receiver never ceased to amaze me.

    Or was it Chock Full O Nuts???

    No worries about email viruses then, either...
     
  21. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Are you sure it was Hemp?
     
  22. David

    David Member

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    Is this related to DT's?
     
  23. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I'm sure of nothing, anymore...well, almost nothing.

    When I was 16, I was absolutely certain of everything! Except for, maybe, which girl I liked better....

    Now, the ONLY thing I'm certain of is which girl I like best...


    ...and, that maybe Simon and Garfunkel were right about everything looking better in b&w...I'll have to think on that one some more...so, I guess I'm not really certain of that, yet.
     
  24. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    No, it is not. Surf for Essential Tremor. The Mayo Clinic is a good source. Try Google with "essential tremor mayo".
     
  25. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    There's your next Valentines Day card :wink:

    Murray