APR 18, 2018 6:09 AM PDT

Digital or Analog?


The brain is frequently compared to a computer. Indeed, research shows that the mind is faster and more powerful than any computer that currently, exists. With billions of neurons, synapses and electrical signals flying around, it's a body part that isn't likely to ever be entirely recreated artificially. A philosophy professor at the University of Kansas has received a National Science Foundation Scholar Award to research a book on how the neural processes in the brain might be more analog than digital. Corey Maley, received the grant of $155, 121 that he will use to travel to conferences and science meetings to speak with researchers, other philosophers and even mathematicians and physicists on whether or not the brain is analog or digital.

Digital computers are binary, a system of 1s and 0s that make code. The brain is similar, with voltage spikes that ebb and flow, but in the brain, there is more variation in these spikes. It's not just on or off, as a binary or digital system works. Maney believes that the brain is more like the original analog computers. While those have fallen by the wayside, the way the brain works is quite similar to how computations are done on analog computers. While philosophy and neuroscience don't often overlap, understanding how the brain works is essential to treating brain injury or illness, so in this way, looking at it philosophically could advance our understanding of the brain.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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