Picture of equations, brain and neurons

I want to understand how the brain works.

… a big problem to tackle.

One way to approach it is by realizing that the brain is like a computer, and utilizing our knowledge of computers to understand the brain.

Action potentials reduce the complex neuronal biophysics into a binary-like signal.

Short term memory feels like RAM.

Long term memory resembles hard drives.

There is a small problem with this approach.

The brain is not a computer. Even though it’s very tempting to make the analogy, it is useful to always keep in mind that the brain is not a computer.

It was evolved, not designed.

It is connected to a body in a manner that no engineer would allow a computer to be connected to its peripherals.

It’s full of water! Never mix electricity with water.

So what do I do instead?
I look at the actual brain. Using experimental results on multiple levels – behavioral, electrophysiological, imaging or any other available. From that I try to infer some concepts or clues about certain phenomena. I then use mathematical modeling to test whether it all makes sense, and hopefully gain some new insight. With this new insight I return to my experimental collaborators and try to grasp for the next piece in the puzzle.

Sounds vauge? Here are some concrete examples.

Multiple timescales
Neural representations

We are grateful for funding from Marie Curie reintegration grant, and Fondation Adelis.