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Representation Within a Single Neuron
07 May
07. May 2019
Kolloquium "Philosophie und Wissenschaftsreflexion"

Representation Within a Single Neuron

I start with two puzzles about intelligence. First, intelligence does not depend on neuron number in the way one might intuitively expect. A bee, with about 1 million neurons, can perform cognitive tasks that severely test a human, with about 100 billion. A nematode worm, with 302 neurons, can do tasks such as avoidance learning, flexible decision-making and sensorimotor integration. Second, attempts to emulate even the simplest nervous systems with artificial neural networks have failed (so far) to live up to expectations. I then present a hypothesis that solves both puzzles: in smaller brains, individual neurons do more of the computational work. Computational tasks that in large brains require large networks of neurons can sometimes be accomplished in small brains within a single neuron. I motivate this hypothesis with an example from Caenorhabditis elegans. I close by reflecting on the potential consequences of this hypothesis, if true, for AI and for the evolution of intelligence, cognition and consciousness.


Dr. Jonathan Birch


Institut für Philosophie

Prof. Dr. Feest und Prof. Dr. Frisch


07. May 2019
16:15 o'clock - 1800 o'clock


Institut für Philosophie
Building: 1146
Room: B313
Im Moore (Hinterhaus) 21
30167 Hannover
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