Deciding to break away from the usual, I attended the Computational Neuroscience conference COSYNE 2013 in Salt Lake City, UT. The take-aways that were the most compelling for me:
Performing experiments is tremendously difficult! Imagine attaching probes to indivdual neurons, or reducing interfering factors when training rats to react to certain stimuli. The most “out-there” method for me was optogenetics, the use of laser light to stimulate neurons in genetically-modified mice.
Dr. Anthony Movshon’s talk, where he provided evidence that using anything simpler than a primate was not producing compelling enough of results. He suggested that researchers investigate mouse lemurs instead, a very small primate with a sophisticated brain.
The discussion during the “Large-Scale Neuronal Simulations” workshop, where Dr. Chris Eliasmith introduced me to the philosophical idea of a “hyper-Turing machine” and directed me to the work of Dr. Marcin Miłkowski, particularly his soon-to-be released “Explaining the Computational Mind”. Having been in Computer Science for so long, it had never even occured to me to study any “non-Turing” computational models!
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