Intelligence: creature or creation?
Our intelligence is our most precious and highly prized asset as human beings. We are trying to understand it, so we can gain more of it, explain it, so we can learn to learn it. It levels us to the throne of the kingdom of Animalia, without it, we stay helpless children.
Dr. Joe Tsien, from Augusta University, Georgia, studying the human brain, has come up with some answers, he calls the Theory of Connectivity. He published a paper in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience on his research, based on blindfolded mice experiments, showing something like a universal computational principle at work in the human brain. Under the experiment, certain parts of the mice’s brain associated with seeing were reprogrammed to carry out other tasks, that were previously arranged elsewhere. This plasticity showed the brains capability of relocating the organization of certain tasks like it’s possible by a universal function computer.
According to Tsien: “We present evidence that the brain may operate on an amazingly simple mathematical logic.” He states, that the “power-of-two-based permutation” taking the form of n=2i-1 explains the circuitry of the brain.
According to the study, a neuronal clique is a group of neurons which fire together and cluster into Functional Connectivity Motifs, (FCMs), which the brain uses to recognize specific patterns or ideas. “They are like branches on a tree, and the neuronal clique is the smallest unit of connectivity, a twig, which when combined with other cliques, link up to form an FCM. The more complex the idea is represented in the brain, the more convoluted the FCM. The n in n=2i-1 specifies the number of neuronal cliques that will fire in response to a given input, i.”
Tsien and his scientists tested the theory by presenting mice with a number of different stimuli and recording the patterns of neurons that fired in response. The results strengthened their hypothesis when the algorithm correctly predicted the amount of neural tissue that becomes activated in response to a given stimulus. The results could enable the creation of artificial brains that are wired accordingly.
The ability to scale up amounts of connections needed to express complex ideas doesn’t give birth complex ideas in itself, hence the results lack to provide us with the source of those very ideas though. Acknowledging that Tsaien’s results are an important piece of the puzzle, there’s still a long road ahead towards the understanding of our intelligence.