The Brain: A Primer for the Novice

Original article was published by Zubair Talib on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

The Brain: A Primer for the Novice

A brief tour of neuroscience, brain research, AI, and interesting related topics.

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I have been reading and doing a bit of research on the brain and cognitive science for a few weeks now. I have no background in this area, and, yes it really is brain surgery. Its an extraordinarily vast field (unsurprising, understatement), but I was still surprised by how much I didn’t know that I didn’t even know.

Understanding more about the human brain is fascinating for so many reasons:

  • Behavioral — why do we do what we do? how to make sense of tragic man-made behaviors in the world? how to get the best out of ourselves and those around us?
  • Functional — how do we learn? how to improve our learning?
  • Inspirational — how to learn from human cognition to inspire and perhaps direct artificial intelligence?
  • Philosophical — what is consciousness and do we have free will?

I was going to write one blog post but, because there were so many areas that I didn’t know about, I decided to try to write a few to help capture my thoughts and share some observations. Please keep in mind this blog and series of posts is from an untrained, non-expert perspective. I highly recommend you go to original sources to confirm (or deny!) any information you read here. Disclaimer out of the way, here are the topics:

  • Neuroanatomy for the Rest of Us
  • The Genetics of Behavior
  • The Brain Science Behind Behavior
  • How We Learn: Is the Brain a Computer?
  • The Brain as Inspiration for AI
  • Do We Have Free Will?
  • 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain

In full confession, the Neuralink announcement came in the middle of this exploration. And, for a while, I didn’t want to write this post for fear of appearing like an Elon Musk “bandwagonner” — there’s nothing worse than that. And now that I have learned a bit more about the brain — I can happily share that its the pride (and perhaps shame) activation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex that caused me to behave this way. So there.

I’ve just started learning on this topic and look forward to your feedback, comments, corrections, and suggestions for future learning,