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The Conscious Mind, The Resonating Brain by Stephen Grossberg | BU today


We all have brains. Yet we are all different. This is because each brain shapes our individual mind, and it is our mind that controls our behaviors, emotions, and experiences. So how does a brain give birth to a mind? This is the fundamental question that has largely defined Stephen Grossberg’s career, and it is also the origin of a new book he has published which sets the course for a remarkable career.

In 2015, 40 years after becoming a full professor at Boston University, Grossberg accepted the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists for his pioneering research into understanding how the brain transforms into the mind. By accepting this honor, Grossberg expressed a desire to “grow towards something more sustainable”.

This summer, Grossberg has indeed created something lasting, drawing more than 60 years of brain research to publish his 700-word magnum opus. Conscious mind, resonant brain: how each brain makes a mind (Oxford University Press, 2021). Through 17 chapters, Grossberg tackles topics such as “How does a brain make a mind”, “How do we see an evolving world”, “Target tracking, navigation and decision making”, “See and reach for hearing and speaking ”, and“ From knowledge to feeling ”. Grossberg too explains how and why our brains can consciously see, hear, feel, and know things about the world, then use these conscious representations to control goal-directed actions.

Grossberg, Wang Professor of Cognitive and Neural Systems at Boston University, is widely recognized as one of the leading founders of the field of neural networks. Much of his research spanned three areas – neuroscience, psychology, and mathematics – and much of it revolved around two questions: How does the brain control behavior? and Can technology mimic biological intelligence?

From his book, BU today identified three brief passages in particular that caught our attention and made us think more deeply about how our brains work:

  • “Our brains are not digital computers! Many people in artificial intelligence, or AI, thought for a while that the brain was designed like a digital computer. However, very few people today believe that the brain works like a digital computer. There seems to be more to our mental lives, after all, than just a quagmire of operating systems and programs. But what we are not don’t teach us what we are. “
  • “An understanding of how the brain gives birth to the mind also provides a practical insight into the ‘human condition’ and how our minds manage a world full of surprises and unexpected events. Such an understanding sheds new light on how practical wisdom through the ages has guessed important truths about how we can try to live our lives in a way that best respects our mind and how we can best ourselves. adapt to the unexpected challenges of the world. In particular, it clarifies various maxims that parents use to try to protect their children from “bad influences”.
  • “The evolution of the brain is shaped by behavioral success. No matter how beautiful the nerve cells of your ancestors were, they too easily could have become someone else’s meal if they couldn’t work together to generate behavior that can quickly adapt to environmental challenges.

Grossberg expresses deep pride in the publication of his work: “The book provides a self-contained, non-technical overview of my working life with over 100 contributors in a conversational style as a series of stories,” he says. . “Taken together, these findings are of interest to anyone wondering how our brains make our minds, including what makes us humans, both in health and in disease. “

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