Hypothesis generators (also from “In search of memory”)

The sensory systems are hypothesis generators. We confront the world neither directly nor precisely, but as Mountcastle pointed out: “… Sensation is an abstraction, not a replication, of the real world.”

AK: so this suggests that there should be a mechanism for rewarding the sensory systems when the hypothesis is correct (or correct enough).


1 thought on “Hypothesis generators (also from “In search of memory”)

  1. It would seem that there would be a system to evaluate the effectiveness of the brain’s ability to perceive an effective “abstraction” of the real world. I don’t know if it is a reward system, or perhaps a system of negative reinforcement. If the perceptions are greatly flawed, we cannot negotiate the world around us effectively, and therefore must adapt and re-evaluate. The sensation of pain for example could be used as an indicator of faulty perceptions.

    Although, I suppose that positive outcomes can also lead to refining perceptive skills when they are relative to previous experiences. Better outcomes from the same task done through different means. So I guess negative reinforcement help to the brain to learn what no to do, and positive help is learn how to do what we want to do better.

    Linked to this is an Idea I was going to post about, but I may as well do it here. The idea that the brain creates an abstraction of the real world out of the data it receives and filters.seems linked with the idea Kandel spoke about with regard to the brain’s perceiving or art. He used impressionism as an example of a form that exaggerates certain aspects of the world it is trying to portray, and how strongly we respond to that kind of work. He claims the brain has a built in ability to respond to exaggeration, shown by studies that look at the face recognition center of the brain. When looking at face the neurons in that section fire, but when looking at a cartoon version of that same face, the same neurons fire much more rapidly.

    It would seems that the fact that the brain generates an abstraction of the real world as our perception of it is what allows the brain to be excited by an exaggerated representation of that world. If the brain saw a one to one real representation of the world, then it response to these artistic exaggerations would be one of confusion at the inaccuracy rather than excitement and recognition of a new perspective.

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