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Models of the Mind: How Physics, Engineering and Mathematics Have Shaped Our Understanding of the Brain

Models of the Mind: How Physics, Engineering and Mathematics Have Shaped Our Understanding of the Brain

by Grace Lindsay

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Overview

Grace Lindsay reveals the value of describing the machinery of neuroscience using the elegant language of mathematics.

The brain is made up of 85 billion neurons, which are connected by over 100 trillion synapses. For over a century, a diverse array of researchers have been trying to find a language that can be used to capture the essence of what these neurons do and how they communicate – and how those communications create thoughts, perceptions and actions. The language they were looking for was mathematics, and we would not be able to understand the brain as we do today without it.

In Models of the Mind, author and computational neuroscientist Grace Lindsay explains how mathematical models have allowed scientists to understand and describe many of the brain's processes, including decision-making, sensory processing, quantifying memory, and more. She introduces readers to the most important concepts in modern neuroscience, and highlights the tensions that arise when bringing the abstract world of mathematical modelling into contact with the messy details of biology.

Each chapter focuses on mathematical tools that have been applied in a particular area of neuroscience, progressing from the simplest building block of the brain – the individual neuron – through to circuits of interacting neurons, whole brain areas and even the behaviors that brains command. Throughout Grace will look at the history of the field, starting with experiments done on neurons in frog legs at the turn of the twentieth century and building to the large models of artificial neural networks that form the basis of modern artificial intelligence. She demonstrates the value of describing the machinery of neuroscience using the elegant language of mathematics, and reveals in full the remarkable fruits of this endeavor.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472966421
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 130,369
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Grace Lindsay is a computational neuroscientist currently based at University College London. She completed her PhD at the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, where her research focused on building mathematical models of how the brain controls sensory processing. Before that, she earned a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh and received a research fellowship to study at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Freiburg, Germany. She was awarded a Google PhD Fellowship in Computational Neuroscience in 2016 and has spoken at several international conferences.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Spherical Cows 7

Chapter 2 How Neurons Get Their Spike 17

Chapter 3 Learning to Compute 49

Chapter 4 Making and Maintaining Memories 83

Chapter 5 Excitation and Inhibition 117

Chapter 6 Stages of Sight 151

Chapter 7 Cracking the Neural Code 183

Chapter 8 Movement in Low Dimensions 215

Chapter 9 From Structure to Function 247

Chapter 10 Making Rational Decisions 279

Chapter 11 How Rewards Guide Actions 309

Chapter 12 Grand Unified Theories of the Brain 341

Mathematical Appendix 365

Acknowledgements 377

Bibliography 379

Index 395

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