I am a software engineer with a special interest in machine/deep learning and I have a fair amount of experience in this space. In (supervised) machine learning, you are tuning a (very) large data structure called a neural network by subjecting it over and over again with pictures/sounds/inputs that contain a particular "thing" you want it to learn and letting it analyze the characteristics of each input. Every time you show it a new input that contains this "thing" it tweaks the configuration of the network a bit more, and after many (hundreds; thousands; tens of thousands) of examples, this network converges ("learns") into a final state that is capable of recognizing the "thing" on new inputs that it has not yet seen.
I'm trying to do some research in some new areas of machine learning and I'm interested in what some of the predominant modern theories are on how the brain "works" as a possible source of inspiration. It is my belief that humans have inadvertently been building computers and software in a way that mimics the human body, probably because nature perfected the recipe a long time ago, and its probably the best recipe! So by having some decent understanding of what our top dogs in neuroscience believe with respect to have the brain "works", I might be able to think outside the box here and solve some problems that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
By "how the brain works" I mean:
- Theories on how the brain converts inputs (vision, sound, smells, tactile sensations/pressure/heat/pain, tastes, etc.) into a form that it can then process and make informed decisions with
- Theories on how the brain actually makes these decisions; how we think and uses stored information to decide to do something
- Theories on how the brain stores and fetches memories and information (how I can recall my social security number, name or birth date, or how I know what a cat looks like; as well as how I store new info like remembering a new co-worker's name)
- Theories on why our brains are all so different and people have different likes/interests/aversions than others (why I like writing software and hiking and other people like skydiving or eating spicy food, etc.)
Again I'm interested in what the modern and "predominant" theories are (by that I mean: gaining lots of traction/legitimacy within the appropriate scientific communities) for all these things. Knowing what those are will help me sift through the ocean of blogs, white papers and articles that might very well mislead me or take me down roads on theories that were relevant 20 years ago but have long-since been abandoned or replaced, etc. Thanks in advance for any-and-all steering here!