Written by dave nelson

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Idiot: "God created the brain in seven days y'all!"

Neuroscientist: "Y'all are a schmuck!"

1. The keys to modern biology were not delivered by genome sequencing, but by a series of prior conceptual advances (Darwin, Mendel, Fisher, Morgan, Crick etc).

2. Tracing wires in 3 dimensions to learn how neurons are connected is overkill: like genome sequencing by X-ray crystallography. Almost all the information contained in the labyrinthine wiring is irrelevant to the issue of how one neuron "connects to" (i.e. influences) another.

3. The article itself pinpoints (as an aside) the concept that probably underlies the workings of the brain: "When neurons fire together, the connections between them grow stronger". As Seung knows, this likely forms the main explanation of how the brain works; the problem is we do not have definitive proof, nor do we know exactly how this rule actually works, nor do we yet fully grasp why it's so powerful, and whether it suffices. Show me how and why this principle creates useful connections in a sliver of visual cortex and I'll be satisfied, no human connectome required.

4. We need to focus on more on concepts (such as this modest rule), and less on massive datomes. I propose that while the rule seems so simple that one is tempted to think there must be much more "up there", perhaps this simplicity is deceptive: what might be stunning about the brain is the unstated, and truly remarkable, corollary of the rule: when 2 neurons fire together, ONLY their connection (out of a quadrillion others) strengthen.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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Topics: God
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