Microcosms of the Brain: What sensorimotor systems reveal about the mind

Paperback | December 17, 2003

byDouglas Tweed

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How can we understand a system as intricate as the human brain? Microcosms of the brain presents a bold new approach. It argues that the key to understanding brain function lies in the sensorimotor systems - those that gather sensory data such as light and sound, and use them to controlaction, steering the eyes, head, or limbs. The book shows how these subsystems can serve as microcosms of the brain - small enough to be analyzed but substantial enough to reveal general principles of brain function. By studying these simple systems and simulating them on computers, we can getsome answers to the bigger questions about the brain.In ten chapters Douglas Tweed explores ten concepts that may help form a basis for the computerized neuroscience of the future: optimization, computation, complexity, learning, dynamics, interfaces, loops, degrees of freedom, information, and inference. He explains these concepts in simple,non-mathematical language, and shows how they can bring some order to our view of the human brain.Written to be accessible to lay readers as well as students and researchers in the cognitive sciences, this is a book that could dramatically change the way we explore the human mind.

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From the Publisher

How can we understand a system as intricate as the human brain? Microcosms of the brain presents a bold new approach. It argues that the key to understanding brain function lies in the sensorimotor systems - those that gather sensory data such as light and sound, and use them to controlaction, steering the eyes, head, or limbs. The b...

Douglas Tweed is Professor of Physiology and Medicine, University of Toronto.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:206 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.45 inPublished:December 17, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198528930

ISBN - 13:9780198528937

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Table of Contents

1. Brain of darkness2. Guide to the interior3. On the shoulders of computers4. Genome for a network5. The adaptive brain6. Unfolding in time7. Brains and brawn8. Thoughts running in circles9. Degrees of freedom10. The flow of information11. Inference12. The search for intelligent life in the brain

Editorial Reviews

`Microcosms is a fascinating account of human sensor-motor coordination, with implications on the much larger question of how brains work. The brain is considered in its evolutionary role of helping us cope with the world. The book uses human vision to illustrate problems that the brainencounters and must solve. Ideas that are fundamentally mathematical are made accessible to a wide audience. Insightful, informative, and thought-provoking, sprinkled with subtle humor, the book can be appreciated and enjoyed by readers interested in cognition, perception, neuroscience, andunderstanding brains.'Pentti Kanerva - Author of Sparse Distributed Memory (MIT Press, 1988) and Research Affiliate, Redwood Neuroscience Institute