Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 7 - Art + NeuroSci

Neuroscience is about people's mind, memory and imagination. DESMA 9 was not the place where I first got experience with neuroscience topics. One year ago, in the summer vacation, I was reading a book called Incognito by David Eagleman. In the book, Eagleman models the brain as a pair of "rivals". On one hand, there exists a fast response system that will be triggered in the first place, and often unconsciously. The author describes an experiment to illustrate how this system works. The experimenter asked a group of people to describe the process of changing lanes in their words. None of them did it correctly because changing lanes was a process "burned like a circuit into the brain". On the other hand, something like doing hard mathematical problems is handled by a proactive thinking system; one has to go through the reasoning process to draw a conclusion.

Figure 1: The book Incognito
Besides literature, neuroscience ideas are also borrowed by computer scientists. Neural networks is  an advanced technique in the subfield of artificial intelligence. Like how real neuro-systems build responses from experiences, neural networks are trained by real data to simulate any function which accepts a set of parameters as input and returns a value as output. The program named AlphaGo which defeated Go world champion Lee Sedol used neural networks as part of its reasoning system.
Figure 2: Neural networks utilized by AlphaGo
Many visual art forms also get ideas from neuroscience. My favorite is the film Inception, which depicts a world where people can be trapped in their dreams. In this situation, it is interesting to see how people invent secret methods to help them distinguish real world from dream worlds.
Figure 3: The poster of movie Inception
The various application of neuroscience is referred to as "neuroculture" by Giovanni Frazzetto and Suzanne Anker. They believe the transformation from a science to a culture has made neuroscience more friendly to the society. As a fan of neuroscience, I'm also happy to see the chemistry happening between the science and the society.

Vesna, V. "Lectures on Neuroscience + Art".
Frazzetto, G. Anker, S. "Neuroculture". <>
Eagleman, D. Incognito. Vintage. 2012.
"Inception Poster". <>
"Neural Networks Figure". <>

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