Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems
University of Boston
THE SUMMER SEMINAR, July 2003
The Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems (CNS) provides advanced training and research experience for graduate students and qualified undergraduates interested in the neural and computational principles, mechanisms, and architectures that underlie human and animal behavior, and the application of neural network architectures to the solution of technological problems. The department’s training and research focus on two broad questions. The first question is: How does the brain control behavior? This is a modern form of the Mind/Body Problem. The second question is: How can technology emulate biological intelligence? This question needs to be answered to develop intelligent technologies that are well suited to human societies. These goals are symbiotic because brains are unparalleled in their ability to intelligently adapt on their own to complex and novel environments. Models of how the brain accomplishes this are developed through systematic empirical, mathematical, and computational analysis in the department. Autonomous adaptation to a changing world is also needed to solve many of the outstanding problems in technology, and the biological models have inspired qualitatively new designs for applications. During the past decade, CNS has led the way in developing biological models that can quantitatively simulate the dynamics of identified brain cells in identified neural circuits, and the behaviors that they control. This new level of understanding is leading to comparable advances in intelligent technology.