I've long been interested in the concept of "states of mind", which influence the perception of the outside world and outlook on past, present and future. They can be thought of as "colored lenses" through which the world is perceived. Each state has a certain trigger. Some example states are:
- Anxiety - world is a terrible place full of danger
- Sexual arousal - brain notices sexual stimuli more and reduces inhibitions
- Creative inspiration - ideas fly and there's a drive to create
Today I've read about an experiment to replicate a part of a rat brain in supercomputer. The following quote jumped at me as rather significant:
The researchers wrote, that the slow synchronous waves of neuronal activity, which have been found in the brain during sleep, were ‘triggered’ during the simulations, suggesting that neural circuits may have the unique ability to able to switch into different ‘modes’ that could explain critical behaviours.
“An analogy would be a computer processer that can reconfigure to focus on certain tasks. The experiments suggest the existence of a spectrum of states, so this raises new types of questions, such as ‘what if you’re stuck in the wrong state?” said Markram.
I read that the project is criticized due to it's complexity, seems like they are working from the bottom up, which makes me ask:
Are there projects out there that attempt to model the brain from the higher levels of abstraction (discrete states and their triggers) down to more detail?
To use a computer analogy - instead of writing very low level binary code, I can take a high level programming library and work with that. Is there research in this direction?
This image is an example of a state machine - a system is modelled in terms of discrete states and their interactions. The author does not concern themselves with interaction of individual neurons, instead with higher level states: