[Comp-neuro] Forming a group to discuss the possibility that the brain could be at a symbolic level

Asim Roy ASIM.ROY at asu.edu
Mon Aug 12 21:22:28 CEST 2013

The considerable evidence from single cell studies - starting with the Nobel Prize winning work of Hubel and Wiesel on receptive fields in the sensory systems - suggests that single cells at different levels of processing encode information. For example, in the primary visual cortex, there are simple and complex cells that are tuned to visual characteristics such as orientation, color, motion, and shape. There are also single cells in later stages of processing that represent places (locations), faces, houses, emotions and so on. These kinds of cells are also found in animals. This suggests that we have a great capacity to generalize and create concepts and encode them in single cells.

A good question is: Do these single cells represent symbols? If so, what does it mean? Lots of other questions can follow from this basic one.

I am creating a separate group to discuss whether the brain is at a symbolic level and, if so, what evidence do we need to suggest that and what are the implications. Please email me if you want to participate in this discussion. I will start the discussion once we have a critical mass. It will be a private discussion and nothing will be published anywhere. This should allow for a fairly open discussion of the issues.

With best regards,
Asim Roy
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

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