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Current reading: neuroscience September 30, 2010

Posted by Sarah in Uncategorized.
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Right now my “interests” are supposed to be limited to passing quals. Fair enough, but I’m also persistently trying to get a sense of what math can tell us about how humans think and how to model it. Except that I don’t actually know any neuroscience. So I’ve been remedying that.

Here’s one overview paper that goes over the state of the field, in terms of brain architecture and hierarchical organization. Neurons literally form circuits, and, in rough outline, we know where those circuits are. We can look at the responses of those circuits in vivo to observe the ways in which the brain clusters and organizes content: even to the point of constructing a proto-grammar based on a tree of responses to different sentences. I hadn’t realized that so much was known already — the brain is mysterious, of course, but it’s less mysterious than I had imagined.

Then here’s an overview paper by Yale’s Steve Zucker about image detection using differential geometry. In his model, detection of edges and textures is based on the tangent bundle. Apparently, unlike some approaches in computational vision, this differential geometry approach has neurological correlates in the structure of the connections in the visual cortex. The visual cortex is arranged in a set of columns; the hypothesis is that these represent \mathbb{R} \times S^1, with the column representing position and the slices at different heights of the columns representing orientation.