Sunday, January 27, 2008

Brain Theory = Game Theory?

Harvard scientists are attempting to create a high resolution map of a mouse brain. They want to understand the anatomical properties of the brain and map the connections between different neurons.

Researchers all over the world are rushing to understand the brain; the problem is that they all think their method of research is the only correct method.

Connectomic researchers believe that the only way to understand the brain is by mappingnhow all the neurons interact with each other.

Geneticists believe that the path to greater cerebral understanding is by noting which genes affect brain development.

Biochemists think that we must notate every chemical path way for every brain mechanism.

Brain signal analysts feel that analyzing the brain's methods of signal processing is the only route to understand our brains.

All of these researchers have one thing in common, they are all wrong. Whatever happened to collaboration? If an ornithologist claimed that the only way to understand the ecosystem was by studying birds, and the study of any other creature was a waste of time, most people would think that ornithologist is out to lunch, right? So how can brain researcher understand the mind if they only study one of its properties?

All of the aforementioned research methods have the common goal of exploring the brain, but most researchers do not want to collaborate because they do not want to share the glory. The only way we will really begin to understand the brain is if researchers in different fields start working together and we try to learn in small, modular steps. Mapping an entire neural network is great, if you share that data with thousands of researcher groups who all look at different components and use different methods of analysis; but, it is pointless for thousands of research groups to independently study an entire neural network. Didn't Nash have a theory on this?

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