Scientists Create Tiny Artificial Brain



It’s not going to be beating anyone at Jeopardy any time soon, but scientists have created an artificial brain derived from rat cells. The brain is capable of 12 second short term memory and will be used to study how neural networks store data.
Developed by a team at the University of Pittsburgh, the brain was created in an attempt to artificially nurture a working brain into existence so that researchers could study neural networks and how our brains transmit electrical signals and store data so efficiently. The did so by attaching a layer of proteins to a silicon disk and adding brain cells from embryonic rats that attached themselves to the proteins and grew to connect with one another in the ring seen above.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-06/tiny-artificial-rat-brain-exhibits-12-seconds-short-term-memory

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By the way, though it looks complicated there are simplified rules for articifial neural networking. They may not be exactly as the brain is, but they are close enough to create some of the same results. For example for Optical Character Recognition. To be able to read characters from print or cursive and digitalize them. The simple way to conceive of neural networks is to work in binary. Each nerve cell has a threshold value which when exceeded causes depolarization of the cell-body. Na+ and K+ ions move around to cause what is called an action potential (note the name of my blog is re-action potential). An action potential is a wave of electrochemical energy that surges down the cells axon with the depolarization. Afterword, the cell-membrane drops below the resting potential by a slight dose and this is called the "under-shoot". The cell then returns to resting potential until another wave of energy causes it to reach it's threshold again. While there are all kinds of neuroplastic adaptations happening at every point of this process, we can think in relatively simple terms and only consider for the moment that the cell does not emit any output unless the input exceeds the threshold value and in that sense, the whole system is digital and can be represented on a binary truth table.

If I create one cell that has a threshold value of 5 millivolts and a dendritic weight - this is the multiplication of the input voltage that occurs on the incoming dendrite - of 1.5 and an input charge of 4mv the cell would fire because the input charge of 4mv multiplied by the dendritic weight 1.5 would exceed the threshold value of 5mv by 3mv. The additional 3mv would not count for anything, we are only looking for "fired or did not fire".

So the representational structure works in a way because not everything is going to produce the input voltage necessary to trip that nerve cell, though they may trip other nerve cells that have different connections, weights and thresholds.. And all this representational data is then integrated in a process that forms the whole field of phenomenal awareness.

But none of this can explain consciousness qua consciousness. That is trickier.
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@Mitch

Depends on what you are trying to understand. The information needed to understand consciousness is already within your consciousness. However, because we do not have the skills necessary to draw any conclusions from this, we often need to look outwardly.

What the representational structure of the human brain can tell us is how our concepts and percepts are formed on the backdrop of the omnitudo realitatis. The wording Kant used to refer to "Everything that exists". What was true for the color-oppenency process - mainly that colors are created in tandem and by contrast to each other, and are part of a larger color continuum. In-fact, the light meets our eyes as an unbroken continuity and the three cone types in our retinas split the continuum into three distinct colors. They are distinct but not in and of themselves, they are distinct as they relate to each other which is what the color-oppenency process indicates.

So it is with all conscious things or objects, they are relative to all that they are not, this "all that they are not" is the "backdrop of the omnitudo realitatis" in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It can also be gleaned from Aristotle's formal rules of logic, mainly the law of identity in conjunction with the law of non-contradiction which can be mathematically represented as A=A. A bit of formal logic which the famous mathematician Leibniz argued should be a criminal offense to deny.

So all this is described in A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Mind by Gerald Edelman. The representational neuroscience only tells how the content of consciousness is formed by relativity or "opponency" creating the dualistic perception we have, where everything is either this way or that, up or down, left or right, etc...

Really, in the absence of this kind of insight, we are frequently idiotic and small-minded. Though we'd never know it because we just assume the content of our minds are direct reflections of reality and not dualistic-relativistic constructs.
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