There are 85 billion neurons in the brain, and they are linked by more than 100 trillion synapses. Researchers from all over the world have been trying for more than a hundred years to find a way to describe what neurons do and how they talk to each other, as well as how these conversations lead to thoughts, feelings, and actions. They were looking for a language, and they found it in math. Without math, we would not understand the brain as well as we do now.
In her book Models of the Mind, author and computational neuroscientist Grace Lindsay explains how mathematical models have helped scientists understand and describe many of the brain’s processes, such as making decisions, processing sensory information, measuring memory, and more. She explains the most important ideas in modern neuroscience and discusses the problems that come up when the abstract world of mathematical modeling meets the messy world of biology.
Each chapter is about how math has been used in a different area of neuroscience, starting with the simplest part of the brain, the single neuron, and moving on to circuits of neurons that talk to each other, whole brain areas, and even the behaviors that brains control.
Throughout the course, Grace will look at the field’s history, from experiments on neurons in frog legs at the turn of the 20th century to the large models of artificial neural networks that are the basis of modern artificial intelligence. She shows how important it is to talk about the parts of neuroscience using the elegant language of math, and she talks about the amazing results of this effort.