[Bmi] The Brain Principles Manifesto: with links

Juyang Weng weng at cse.msu.edu
Sun Feb 22 11:42:29 EST 2015

On 2/22/15 6:54 AM, Jont Allen wrote:
> 100% yes, the brain operates on classical principles. Does anyone 
> disagree?
> If this were not the case, then there would be no point of 
> neuro-science studies of the brain.
> Perhaps we have not yet discovered the basic principle of how the 
> brain operates.
> Here is my proposal: Each neuron is a low-pass filter, due to the 
> membrane's RC properties.
> If you want a reference to this fact, read George Campbell's famous 
> papers on wave filters:
> ,title={Physical Theory of the Electric Wave Filter}
> ,journal=BSTJ ,year=1922 ,month=Nov ,volume={1} ,number={2} ,pages={1-32}
> The inputs are, of course, large numbers of spikes at the synaptic 
> inputs. Thus
> the low-pass filtered sum of the inputs leads to an output spike, when 
> the lowpass voltage
> crosses a threshold.
> One key to this computation is the incredibly low noise of the 
> neuron's low-pass filter, which
> is given by sqrt{kT/C} where C is the membrane capacitance.
> This very low noise results in reliable computation: Same input, same 
> output.
> Jont

Jont, your proposal looks like what an electrical engineering student 
would see in a neural net course.
Prof. Shun-Ichi Amari at RIKEN in Japan and Prof.  Jun Zhang at 
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor seem to take a similar physics based 
approach.   But I think the approach is way too limited.

Many respected neural net modelers had PhD degrees in physics which give 
them an intuition in modeling events of physics.   However, I think that 
this physics background is also a trap, in the sense that the 
researchers trapped into a wish that physics-based mechanisms plus a 
weak mechanism (e.g., information theory) are sufficient for them to 
model brain-like neural networks.   This wish is an illusion.

The brain operates on MUCH MORE PRINCIPLES THAN classical principles.

If they have taken a course in automata theory, a course in Artificial 
Intelligence, and the BMI 871 course on brain-mind modeling, they will 
see how limited their tools are.  They should also take courses in 
biology, neuroscience, and psychology that BMI 2015 plan to offer.

In particular, a low-pass filter is not sufficient to characterize what 
each neuron does.  For example, where does each neuron get inputs from?
The automata brain model tells you where:  Not just sensory source, but 
also motor source.  It is also very different from classical control 
theory too, not just feedback control.


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