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Good news brain news
Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are finally entering the picture.
New York Times article on how brain and spine implants allowed a paralyzed man to walk naturally again. This is one use case of BCIs, if there is damage to the spine, you can read outgoing neural signals in the brain, and then output the signals below the injury to working motor neurons, “jumping over” the problem area.
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And Neuralink announced just yesterday that they got FDA approval for human trials. They already achieved typing with your mind and making the brain see things that the eyes don't see (which will enable blind people to see again) on monkey test subjects.
More good news brain-wise, scientists found causal evidence that the shingles vaccine prevents a good chunk of dementia cases.
Sam Harriss did an interesting podcast episode with Shamil Chandaria, philanthropist and researcher. In particular I found fascinating their explanation of how our brain models the world, and the Free Energy Principle. Basically, the intuitive assumption of our brain taking in inputs and us perceiving the inputs is flawed. Instead, our brain keeps a model of the world, and we perceive that model. Sensory inputs are used to error correct this model.
Two fascinating facts that drove this point home for me:
There are 10x as many connections going top down (from frontal lobe to visual cortex) as bottom up. If we were merely perceiving and processing sensory inputs, this ratio would be very different.
We barely have any color-detecting receptors in our peripheral vision, yet it doesn't feel that way. The world model our brain maintains fills in the gaps.
Interesting thread on the stages of a human mind's growth. There's also a more in-depth blog post.
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