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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


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revolution
I'm not talking about the signalling, I mean about what is inside that decides whether or not to trigger a signal. I'm not sure of a good analogy, but I can hook up a serial terminal to my computer and command the computer to do things. But that does not mean I know how it works inside, or what algorithms it uses to decide what to data to present back to me.
Post 26 Apr 2008, 15:45
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bitRAKE



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bitRAKE
vid wrote:
How did they manage to reconstruct image that cat sees from watching it's neural activity?
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/286/5442/1079d
www.sciencemag.org wrote:
Biomedical engineer Garrett Stanley, now at Harvard, working with Dan and Fei Li, inserted electrodes into the lateral geniculate nucleus--which passes signals from the retina to the visual cortex--of an anesthetized cat. Keeping its eyes propped open, they registered activity in 177 neurons in response to black-and-white videos of faces and trees. The firing was translated into images by a computer using a technique called linear decoding, in which each spiking of a neuron is like a freeze frame of the outside world.

The findings, reported in the 15 September Journal of Neuroscience, "show that a very simple 'reading' can capture a surprising amount of detail," says William Bialek of the NEC Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, who with Rob de Ruyter van Steveninck has done similar research with single fly neurons.
Very interesting research, but they just seem to be bypassing the sensory organ - not 'reading' the brain. We might be able to fake reality to a brain in a vat without ever needing to understand what the brain is doing, lol. Wonder if my one-eyed friend knows about this.

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Post 27 Apr 2008, 00:48
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vid
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vid
Quote:
I'm not talking about the signalling, I mean about what is inside that decides whether or not to trigger a signal

That mechanism seems to be described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_potential

Quote:
Very interesting research, but they just seem to be bypassing the sensory organ - not 'reading' the brain. We might be able to fake reality to a brain in a vat without ever needing to understand what the brain is doing, lol. Wonder if my one-eyed friend knows about this.

I didn't say the "read the brain". They read information from neurons leading from cat's sensory (eye) to brain.

I remember that in this particular research, there were some images posted of what they decoded from those neurons... very crude, basically just few pixels, but still fascinating
Post 27 Apr 2008, 08:31
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vid
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vid
By the way, here is simulator that simulates first few layers of image processing in brain. Quite interesting, but takes forever to learn just basics (well, it's still fast compared to human brain Very Happy )

http://topographica.org/Home/index.html
Post 27 Apr 2008, 08:46
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tom tobias



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tom tobias
sleepsleep wrote:
...assume energy never created and never destroyed.
This assumption is clearly invalid in the case of the nervous system. Neurons and muscle cells, i.e. the two cell types which engage in signalling in animals, including humans of course, both create energy, i.e. synthesize ATP, and consume energy (those signals are not sent for free)
citing a reference in Wikipedia on the 'synapse', vid wrote:

What is missing in this explaination? Or, are there any other competing explainations? .... I agree the high-level mechanisms are still poorly understood, due to complexity I mentioned, but low level mechanisms are AFAIK well understood.
I remain unconvinced that the "low level" mechanisms are "well understood". The Wiki article, and many, many books on the subject, focus almost exclusively on actions of Acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter, to explain a synapse, but, what about Epinephrine, Glycine, Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), and other transmitters? The reason why one writes about "low level" synaptic mechanisms is primarily because of the large size of the presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons employed in the famous (Nobel prize winning) experiments describing this action. These large neurons permit entry of a glass microelectrode into the perikaryon (cell body) of both pre and post synaptic cells, with the concurrent registration of action potential conduction, followed by much smaller post synaptic potentials. The cells which signal by means of transmitters other than acetylcholine are SMALLER, often by an order of magnitude, hence, difficult to penetrate with a glass microelectrode, consequently, we know much less about ionic currents during synaptic transmission involving such cells. The role of glial cells is also poorly understood. As far as intra-synaptic cleft activity is concerned, we know zilch. How does arrival of the action potential at its terminus lead to an influx of calcium, and what role does this ion play in releasing acetylcholine? Is Calcium influx similarly necessary to encourage release of glycine, GABA, etc? How does the postsynaptic neuron add the various TINY postsynaptic potentials on its dendrites to generate a new action potential at the axon hillock, millimeters away from these presynaptic sources? (In computer terms, this would be analogous to RF transmission, i.e. transmission over huge distances, as if by "magic", without any obvious mechanism...)
In conclusion, no, I don't agree that "low level" mechanisms of neuronal function are well understood, or, at least I cannot claim to understand these processes. Embarassed
Post 27 Apr 2008, 09:41
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tom tobias



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tom tobias
vid wrote:
By the way, here is simulator that simulates first few layers of image processing in brain.
Simulators are not difficult to program. The problem is not one of computer/human interface, but rather, lack of accuracy in the underlying information. Let us suppose, for example, that we want to simulate DMA transfer, to estimate the advantage gained from using DMA to transfer large quantities of data, compared with the time needed to accomplish the same transfer by means of the cpu, assuming some other INTENSE activity going on concurrently, to which the cpu must also attend.
Such a task will be "easy" to simulate, from the perspective of the end user running the program. The user of this simulation program may observe a nice chart elaborated in real time, during the simulation, showing the increased efficiency of employing DMA, compared with the longer duration associated with the same data transfer by the already heavily burdened cpu alone.

But, in the case of simulating the "first few layers of image processing in the brain", one would FIRST have to KNOW something about the functional operation of those first layers, right? My contention is that we KNOW absolutely NOTHING at all about cerebral cortical organization and function. NOTHING. I realize that we have identified six layers in the visual cortex of humans and other animals, and we have further subdivided some layers, for example, IV a, and IV b. So what? How does this assist us? What? You wish to suggest that input from the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus arrives at layer IV, well, except for the parts that terminate in layers 1 and VI, ok, yes, but, ....See, the problem, vid, is that we really don't know beans about the neocortex. Lots of books, nobel prizes, articles, photographs, and conjecture exist, but, in order for a simulation to be meaningful, one must actually know something about the underlying functional elements being simulated, and we don't know anything about how the different layers of neocortex interact, so a simulator of something we know nothing about, is going to be very uninteresting, in my opinion. We create a simulator, (which we DO know how to accomplish), BECAUSE we know nothing. We seek to create the impression that we do understand enough to simulate the activity of the neocortex, as a means of gaining more money to further study the problem. It is easy to write software to create a simulator. It is terribly difficult to penetrate cell processes, only one micron in diameter (the size of the LARGER processes in neocortex), while the experimental animal is performing a task, (say, watching some image, in the case where we wish to analyze neocortical role of image processing, for example,) using a sharpened glass microelectrode, itself nearly one micron in diameter, without destroying this tiny one micron diameter process. It would be similar to sticking the probe of a volt-ohmeter into the middle of an Intel cpu, in order to study cpu architecture...) After studying the electrical events, during behaviour of the animal, one must then inject a dye into the cell process to identify by microscopic examination (upon suitable sacrifice of the animal, and proper preparation of the neocortex) the precise location within the neocortex of this single tiny neuron, whose cell component (dendrite, perikaryon, or axon) was penetrated by the glass microelectrode. This technique is extraordinarily difficult, particularly when compared with writing software for a simulator. So far as I am aware, I was among the first persons to attempt this experiment in an awake behaving mammal, more than thirty years ago, and I failed. I devoted YEARS of effort to this project: training the animals, recording intracellular synaptic and postsynaptic potentials, injecting an electron opaque dye, (to permit electron microscopic reconstruction of the whole neuron) and then sacrificing the animal to preserve the isolated cell for microscopic reconstruction, so as to provide some actual data for a simulator to have meaning. Some investigators have achieved results far superior to anything I ever accomplished, by using anesthetized animals. Problem then, though, is to interpret the data. In my opinion, data ostensibly explaining neocortical function, derived from anesthetized animals, is utterly meaningless... Working with awake animals is a far more challenging technique than it may appear, on paper....Rationalizing the death, and suffering, of innocent animals is also not easily reconciled, particularly when those monkeys stare back at us, in the moments before their untimely execution for crimes uncommitted.....
Sad
Post 27 Apr 2008, 10:39
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victor



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victor
tom tobias wrote:
Rationalizing the death, and suffering, of innocent animals is also not easily reconciled, particularly when those monkeys stare back at us, in the moments before their untimely execution for crimes uncommitted..... Sad
I am touched! Crying or Very sad

The more advanced we are, the MORE we kill! Confused
Post 27 Apr 2008, 10:56
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vid
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vid
This reason sounds more convicing, sad to know we still know very little.

Anyway, don't you think that basic principe utilized by simulator (several layers of neural network, some for focusing at different point, detecting basic shapes, detecting more advanced shapes) is same as one used in brain?

How about, rather cruel way, to somehow damage or "turn off" different parts of brain and see effects. Like, "how much you can see after i shot electricity to this neuron layer and make it unoperable"?
Post 27 Apr 2008, 11:05
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tom tobias



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tom tobias
vid wrote:
...How about, rather cruel way, to somehow damage or "turn off" different parts of brain and see effects.

http://luria.ucsd.edu/bio.html
The brilliant Russian scientist and physician, Alexander Luria, had a similar idea. He studied brain injured, world war 2 veterans, to explain functionality of the parts remaining, pursuant to infliction of severe head trauma.
A more modern approach, using animals, is associated with reversible, selective, geographically constrained, cryogenic hypothermia applied to different regions of neocortex during behaviour.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v267/n5612/abs/267613a0.html
Imagine that we are living at the time of Galileo. He is describing Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter. Perhaps he could discuss something about the orbit, and maybe even its physical diameter. Could Galileo identify the saline ocean that resides 200km beneath the surface of Ganymede? Obviously, I do not write this as a criticism of one of my heroes....He did not have the instrumentation available that would have permitted such a discovery.
http://www.fmri.org/fmri.htm
I was one of the first to attempt to show (in 1991), while still in medical school, that motor cortex, contralateral to a hand squeezing a rubber ball on command, i.e. in synchrony with the EKG, which triggered the RF pulse from the modestly powered instrument of that era, would show an increase in activity.
http://www.psc.edu/science/goddard.html
(As before, I failed!!!)
Smile
Post 27 Apr 2008, 14:35
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vid
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vid
victor wrote:
tom tobias wrote:
Rationalizing the death, and suffering, of innocent animals is also not easily reconciled, particularly when those monkeys stare back at us, in the moments before their untimely execution for crimes uncommitted..... Sad
I am touched! Crying or Very sad

The more advanced we are, the MORE we kill! Confused

Just don't forget that those killings will someday help saving lives, curing terrible diseases, etc...
Post 27 Apr 2008, 15:43
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vid
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vid
Post 27 Apr 2008, 16:25
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victor



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victor
vid wrote:
Just don't forget that those killings will someday help saving lives, curing terrible diseases, etc...
The keyword here is "someday." And the question is WHEN? 20 years later? 50 years later? Or NEVER? We don't know. We do know one thing for sure - we KILL lots and lots of innocent lives in the course of our advancement.

Make no mistakes. I do support scientific research, and I do understand the potential benefits it may bring to mankind. But the hard fact remains: We KILL, KILL, and KILL! Confused
Post 28 Apr 2008, 09:37
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vid
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vid
Yes, this definitively is a hard one. We have to advance, but we should strive to do it as humanely as possible.

In simplified form of this problem, "Is it good to kill one human if we save two others by killing him?". I don't dare to answer this.
Post 28 Apr 2008, 10:37
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Borsuc



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Borsuc
vid wrote:
Just don't forget that those killings will someday help saving lives, curing terrible diseases, etc...
vid wrote:
In simplified form of this problem, "Is it good to kill one human if we save two others by killing him?". I don't dare to answer this.
Especially if you are the one 'human' who is sacrificed, right? Razz (without your will/approval).

also it's funny how people seem to say that they 'understand' a certain thing just because "it works" for a particular case. When it fails, they simply say "coincidence". (don't ask me for links, i'm not really into the trust-everything-you-read-on-the-net stuff, so most probably this does not come from someone else's mouth, but my own experience). Understanding, again, is not the same as practice. The only thing that we understand is mathematics, but that doesn't necessarily mean the world (who said the world obeys mathematic laws?).

This kind of evidence doesn't explain anything at all. It only shows (through the devices we trust so much) the particular practical situation. Doesn't 'explain' anything at all (explanation does not equal information) -- explanations come from us, which as subjective as it gets. Thus understanding is false.


(i'm not saying I am the 'chosen one' that understands everything. What gets me is when people say that they understand everything, especially from reading other people's thoughts (from the net, etc).)

"Those that think they understand everything are a great annoyance to those of us that do". And yes, we are (including me) those that think we understand everything. Wink
Post 28 Apr 2008, 12:12
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vid
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Quote:
Especially if you are the one 'human' who is sacrificed, right?

In that case my "lower sense" will-to-survive will most likely win over "higher sense" humanity - that's how brain works. But I still look up to brave people who sacrifaced their lives to save many.

Quote:
also it's funny how people seem to say that they 'understand' a certain thing just because "it works" for a particular case. When it fails, they simply say "coincidence". (don't ask me for links, i'm not really into the trust-everything-you-read-on-the-net stuff, so most probably this does not come from someone else's mouth, but my own experience).

Sorry for offtopicking, but your argumentation here seems terribly flawed to me. Collection of sources, ideally from both sides of debate, regardles over how it collected and passed (internet, paper, personal experience, rumors, clay tablets, ...) is always better than just one man's personal experience. You repeat same mistake you criticise: just because YOU have this experience (it happened in your particular case), doesn't mean it is trustworthy representative.

To not understand me wrong: I agree with your claim, incorrect generalization happens all the time, I just disagree with your excuse to disregard other data in favor of your own experience, which is incorrect generalization itself.
Post 28 Apr 2008, 12:46
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Borsuc



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Borsuc
vid wrote:
In that case my "lower sense" will-to-survive will most likely win over "higher sense" humanity - that's how brain works. But I still look up to brave people who sacrifaced their lives to save many.
You're right, and actually think about it. If the person is not you, and it does not want to be sacrificed, how would you feel when you do? What if you were there?

do you think you have any more position to judge this than him?
(don't get me wrong, perhaps I misunderstood you?)

vid wrote:
Sorry for offtopicking, but your argumentation here seems terribly flawed to me. Collection of sources, ideally from both sides of debate, regardles over how it collected and passed (internet, paper, personal experience, rumors, clay tablets, ...) is always better than just one man's personal experience. You repeat same mistake you criticise: just because YOU have this experience (it happened in your particular case), doesn't mean it is trustworthy representative.
Of course my experience would not make me trustworthy for everyone else at all -- not more than a piece of text on the net!

But if you think about it, even a piece of text from the net, from the moment you read it to the end, it's still an experience. If you do not have experience with a 2D world, it's unlikely you'll ever know about it.
Post 28 Apr 2008, 12:57
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tom tobias



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tom tobias
vid wrote:
..."Is it good to kill one human if we save two others by killing him?". I don't dare to answer this.
Well, we should try to answer this, I suppose....
http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/377/14863_cannibalism.html
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0410_030410_cannibal.html
Here is the refutation of this article:
http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/22927/
Kill one to save two??? Why not kill one, to save one? Then, why not "survival of the fittest"? Is not all warfare, in essence, a genetic mechanism to improve the species, by preventing reproduction of the weakest elements?
If one views Europe of 2008, USA of 2008, and Germany of 1933 as three points on a line with maximum concern for individual welfare at one end of the line, and with little concern for the individual, but maximum concern for preservation of a particular subgroup at the other end of the line, USA today falls in between the two poles. In USA, homelessness, disease, suffering, etc, are all viewed as someone else's problem, not to be addressed by taking wealth from the most successful members of society. Such an attitude would not be tolerated in either of the two polar extremes, residing at the two termini of this imaginary line. In one case, those unfortunates would be fed, clothed, sheltered, and treated with medications, at public expense, while in the other, they would be executed, as "subhuman". Is this latter scenario an instance of "kill one to save two"? Maybe it is! If so, then my harsh criticism of Israel and 1933 Germany as two members of the group of "elitist" societies residing at the rightmost terminus of this imaginary line, is mistaken. Instead of my blaming Israel for killing the Palestinians, whom the Jews consider "subhuman", perhaps I should be criticizing Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, et al, for inadequately suppressing genetic disease, by helping "inferior humans" to reach reproductive potential??? Hmm. Kill one, to save two? Then, what about the planet as a whole? What about the defenseless species rapidly being exterminated by humans? Are there not already far too many people on this tiny planet? If so, then, why not kill 100 to save 1? Organ donors of the planet unite!
Smile
Post 28 Apr 2008, 13:26
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vid
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vid
Quote:
If the person is not you, and it does not want to be sacrificed, how would you feel when you do? What if you were there?

Sure... and how would those other two feel? Isn't their feeling just as important as one man feeling?

One option for one who is in charge is to choose "lesser evil", and kill one man, spare two. Other is to give the "one" man possibility to choose his own fate, and thus also choose fate of other two people. In this hypothetical situation, there is always someone who must decide to kill somebody. In my opinion, any of those 3 persons who's life is endangered (eg. no one of those three) will in most cases beheave "lowly" and let others die to save himself. In theory, one who isn't endangered, or even involved, could choose more "humane" solution.

Still, a really hard one.

And don't forget we can bring this to expreme, it can be one man vs. thousands or millions, nation vs. nation, etc. Such decisions unfortunatelly are everyday reality.

Quote:
But if you think about it, even a piece of text from the net, from the moment you read it to the end, it's still an experience

Of course... that's why you best collect as many experiences as possible, best from representative sample of all circumstances, and collect them. There is a good chance someone already did it, and published this work (on paper, on internet, doesn't matter). And "link" (or reference) to such published work makes much better argument than experience of oneself.

That's what I meant to say. Link to one man's experience is in no way better than my own experience. Link to experiences of 10 people is way better, but still easily misleading. Link to such properly-done collection of experiences is way way more better than my own experience.
Post 28 Apr 2008, 13:29
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Borsuc



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Borsuc
vid wrote:
And don't forget we can bring this to expreme, it can be one man vs. thousands or millions, nation vs. nation, etc. Such decisions unfortunatelly are everyday reality.
Yes and I truly blame the nation for sacrificing people against their own will (sacrificing them in any way, not necessarily literally).

vid wrote:
And "link" (or reference) to such published work makes much better argument than experience of oneself.
Why?
I can write whatever I want Smile

vid wrote:
Link to experiences of 10 people is way better, but still easily misleading. Link to such properly-done collection of experiences is way way more better than my own experience.
Not necessarily, see the analogy with monkeys in the other thread.

If those 10 people were "monkeys" (read: metaphor) I doubt it would be "way better". Of course I'm not claiming that we (me and you) are better, but merely monkeys. Humans are rare.

(don't take this literally (i.e biologically), but metaphorically).
Post 28 Apr 2008, 13:39
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vid
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vid
Quote:
Yes and I truly blame the nation for sacrificing people against their own will (sacrificing them in any way, not necessarily literally).

Yeah... unfortunatelly it so often is nescessary, and leaders have to choose lesser evil.

For example consider Stalin's (in)famous Order number 227 to shoot retreating soldiers. It caused people to shoot their own, yet it most likely saved much more lives than it took. Absolutely barbaric, but it saved many lives... now what?

Quote:
If those 10 people were "monkeys" (read: metaphor) I doubt it would be "way better". Of course I'm not claiming that we (me and you) are better, but merely monkeys. Humans are rare.

Starting argument with "if" followed by description of unlikely case (10 other monkeys, 1 human) doesn't rule out common case Razz

10 experiences are better than single one. Chances are much better with 10 to hit at least some non-monkey than with single (no one can ever be sure if he isn't the monkey Very Happy )

Quote:
Why?
I can write whatever I want

If you have credentials for doing such works, if it is peer reviewed, and if there are more independent studies with similar results, then chance of fake decreases very rapidly. Unless all these are satisfied, you can usually find some criticism of work, so checking is not THAT hard. Still, such fakes are rare, and "using exception to rule out common case" fallacy argument applies again.
Post 28 Apr 2008, 14:03
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