prepare the Matrix Vats!

Physicists investigate brain power:

Researchers at the University of Tel-Aviv have shown that neurons can self-organize themselves into electrically active clusters of cells in the laboratory. [...] They found that the network, which is initially uniform, separates by the creation of 'borders' that break it into separate 'basins'. Each basin then collapses into a cluster, which remains intact until it degrades. [...] It found that the neural networks were able to self-control the strength of their interconnections, and their shape, to maintain the required level of electrical activity.

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13 Responses:

  1. badger says:

    Or Lovecraftian Mi-Go brain cylinders. Or the basis for the artifical brain in the robot in Saturn 3.

  2. thesliver says:

    I always thought my brain would do better on its own without me.

  3. cirollo says:

    There's some interesting work being done by Mark Raizen at the University of Texas at Austin; they found a way to direct the growth of nerve cells using a laser. Apparently, it's difficult to actually control the direction and rate of growth in experiments like the one above, where neurons are grown on a substrate (often silicon).

    If everything pans out, they should be able to guide the neurons to form synapses and completely control the development of a neural network.

  4. cessibaby says:

    i often wonder who's running who, if all this neural activity is going on completly self-controlled, and this is whats responsible for our analytical processes and reasonings and such, than how much of our actions is truly our own will and how much is uncontrolled electronic impulses, and if all of it the latter than who's controlling that....does get more matrixy the more you think about it....

    • greyface says:

      For those of us (that's me, some other people I know, maybe not you, I dunno) who have long believed there's nothing else in our head but brain... you're drawing an absolutely irrelevant distinction. My brain is me. It's old news that all sorts of control is done in the brain. My brain doesn't precisely control my brain, 'cause it is my brain.

      There doesn't really need to be so much of a heirarchy. The brain acts in accordance to physical laws to do all its "Brainy" stuff, thus I have a brain, that operates!

      • cessibaby says:

        right i know that, i was being half-cheeky about it, but for me the jury is still out about the brain being all we are, thats it for our thinking-selves of course but life is more than just mental processes, of course i guess the arguement could be made that all sensation, all instinct boils down to our brain...little neurons telling us to feel love, anger, sadness..blah i really hate that about science..its so unromantic...and yet i'm compelled to want more...what seperates us from any other intricate functioning mechanism like a computer, our irrationalness, our abstraction, our passion, our that just our wires going awry or is that life, something thats more than just a machine...

        • andrewducker says:

          little neurons telling us to feel love, anger, sadness

          It's not the little neurons telling us to feel X, the little neurons _are_ us feeling X.

        • drainboy says:

          ...ah, but if it wasn't our brain it would be something else, something that might at once seem more romantic but, once you examined it up close and saw the fact that it had to work by the laws of the universe, that it wasn't some ethereal soul that was outside physical determinism, made you think "it's only our brain plus x, how unromantic".

          • cessibaby says:

            good thank you i was looking for that term; physical determinism, yeah i'm not a fan of that, do i understand it of course, does believing in something else make logical sense not really, but i'm also under the belief that we've yet to discover all the physical limits of the universe, to say that we've got the brain, our bodies, the laws of the universe completly figured out and sealed in stone is faulty at best...for thousands of years it was commonly held the sun revolved around the earth, now its commonly held that feelings are electrical impulses in the brain...all i'm suggesting is that one day that could also be proven wrong...and to the suggestion that i would find something else unromantic because the function would be the same, a pen and a quill perform the same function and are used in the same manner except i would find the latter more romantic than the former, romantic being used in the classical sense of course.