Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brain Bugs: Graceful Degradation (Fault-Tolerance)

Neural web.

Graceful Degradation

Fault-tolerance or graceful degradation is the property that enables a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of (or one or more faults within) some of its components. If its operating quality decreases at all, the decrease is proportional to the severity of the failure, as compared to a naïvely-designed system in which even a small failure can cause total breakdown. Fault-tolerance is particularly sought-after in high-availability or life-critical systems.

From Dean Buonomano's website:

How does learning, memory, and behavior emerge from networks of neurons?

Learning and cognition are not a product of isolated neurons, but the emergent property of complex networks of neurons. While great progress continues to be made in molecular and cellular neuroscience, as well as in cognitive neuroscience, there is a gap between these levels of analyses. One of our main focuses is to bridge this gap and understand how does learning and other complex computations  emerge from the local circuits of the human brain.

How does the brain tell time?

While the brain's ability to tell time is a fundamental computation necessary for everything from speech recognition to anticipating events in the world around us, virtually nothing is known about how the brain tells time. We have hypothesized that timing is such an important component of brain function that most neural circuits are capable of telling time on the scale of milliseconds and seconds.

Answering the above questions is be necessary both to understand the brain and mind, and to unveil the causes of neurological disorders that impair learning, memory, and cognition.

NPR "Fresh Air" Audio Interview with Dean Buonomano about his book, "Brain Bugs."

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