MIT Center for Brains, Minds & Machines 9.11

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9.11 The Human Brain

Nancy Kanwisher, MIT

1.1 Why should we care about the brain?

  1. This is where the mind lives. It is the physical implementation of the mind and is who we are. We want to know - what is this physical brain that is me?
  2. The brain has physical struce, different parts do different things

1.2 How can we study the brain? Marr’s levels of analysis The nature of the computations that underlie perception depends more upon the computational problems that have to be solved than upon the particular hardware in which their solutions are implemented -Marr, 1982

  1. Computational theory (IO)
  2. Algorithm / representation (code)
  3. Hardware implementation

1.2 Philosophical questions

  1. What is special about the human brain?
  2. Where does knowledge come from - how much is genetic vs experience?
  3. Can we think without language?
  4. Can we perceive/understand/think/decide without awareness?

2.1 The Face Recognition Problem

  1. What is the nature of face perception - inputs, outputs, challenges?
  2. What is the nature of face representation - do they differ in any important way from representation of nonface stimuli?
  3. Is face perception a distinct system from the rest of vision/cognition?
  4. Do separate components exist within the face system? Like what?
  5. What computations are conducted?

Alphabet soup of ways to monitor brain activity PET, fMRI, ERP, MEG, ECOG, fNIRs

  • Your face recognition system is set up to process the whole upright face at once
  • The perfect control stimulus for the face is the inverted face