(from ScienceDaily, November 21, 2016)
At Augusta University Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute, neuroscientist Dr Joe Z Tsien writes:
Intelligence is really about dealing with uncertainty and infinite possibilities. Billions of neurons assemble and align not just to acquire knowledge, but to generalize and draw conclusions from it.
He writes of neurons clustered into cliques that handle recognition of basic conditions – the recognition of foods, shelter, friends or foes. In other words, I would say, differentiation clusters. Dr Tsien continues:
Groups of cliques then cluster into functional connectivity motifs.
This is additional association and differentiation, for example recognizing rice as something you might like for dinner tonight, or recognizing a chair as appropriate for your office. Tsien continues:
For it [an idea] to be a universal principle, it needs to be operating in may neural circuits, so we selected seven different brain regions and, surprisingly, we indeed saw this principle operating in all these regions.
In other words, intricate organization in the brain is what's happening. The human brain has about 86 billion neurons, and each neuron can have tens of thousands of synapses (transmissions between nerve cells). An idea might involve billions of sparks between neurons that number into the trillions. The brain can hold specific information, like a computer, and also categorize and generalize the information into abstract concepts.
(If only we would all do better at gathering the info and categorizing it and avoid our discrimination failures, faulty associations, sloppy generalizations and wild assumptions.)
Neurons in the cerebellum are more involved in muscle coordination. Elephants have larger brains than humans, but the intelligence that Tsien in describing is in the outer layer of the brain. It plays a key role in learning and memory (the higher brain functions). Dr Tsien claims that size doesn't matter in comparing elephants and humans. The human brain, according to Tsien, has its room for the gathering of what he calls "cliques" of associations and "functional connectivity motifs."
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