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How we might be able to Understand the Brain

By Brian D. Josephson


Current methodologies in the neurosciences have difficulty in accounting for complex phenomena such as language, which can however be quite well characterised in phenomenological terms. This paper addresses the issue of unifying the two approaches. We typically understand complicated systems in terms of a collection of models, each characterisable in principle within a formal system, it being possible to explain higher-level properties in terms of lower level ones by means of a series of inferences based on these models. We consider the nervous system to be a mechanism for implementing the demands of an appropriate collection of models, each concerned with some aspect of brain and behaviour, the observer mechanism of Baas playing an important role in matching model and behaviour in this context. The discussion expounds these ideas in detail, showing their potential utility in connection with real problems of brain and behaviour, important areas where the ideas can be applied including the development of higher levels of abstraction, and linguistic behaviour, as described in the works of Karmiloff-Smith and Jackendoff respectively

Topics: Neural Modelling, Complexity Theory, Learnability
Publisher: New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)
Year: 2004
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