Neuroscience research has relied heavily on studying sensation and action: how sensory stimuli are detected and perceived, and how movements are produced. But much of what goes on in the brain is internal — states that control motivation and bias decisions, representations of remembered events, and cognitive explorations. A primary goal of the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain (SCGB) is to expand our understanding of the role of internal brain processes in the arc from sensation to action, thereby discovering the nature, role and mechanisms of the neural activity that produces cognition.
Because internal brain processes are not directly linked to the outside world through sensation or action, they are difficult to study. However, technological advances are rapidly changing our ability to observe and manipulate brain activity on the level of circuits of many neurons. This allows us to recognize internal brain states from the activity alone, and to modify these states during behavior, unprecedented in the history of brain research.
The vast amount of data becoming available with novel technologies necessitates mathematical approaches for its analysis and understanding. Mathematical approaches provide tools for the study of interactions of many neurons. Thus, through the marriage of mathematical techniques with emerging technologies, the field is poised to uncover a mechanistic understanding of internal brain processes.
With newly emerging techniques for both the collection of the right datasets and the means to analyze them, the time is right to propel this field forward. To do this, the SCGB seeks to build a cohesive and interactive multi-disciplinary community of scientists focused on furthering our understanding of higher brain function.
Learn more about the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain here.