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About This Site

This site is dedicated to a new Conceptual Understanding of Brain Function and its outcomes. Switching to the new brain concept is a must to assure a success in our quest to understand the brain. Conceptual views determine how we conduct both theoretical and experimental research and explain brain functions. They glue together different neuroscience disciplines and show the place of each discipline in the global picture.

The new concept is based on two discoveries – the discovery of the neural network computational principle and the discovery of the generic functional organization of hierarchical neural optimal control systems. The first happened in the 1980s and the second in the late 1980s and early 1990s, i.e., quite a while ago.

To facilitate understanding of the new brain concept the following topics are discussed in the Section New Brain Concept:

    ■Why the classical approach (the approach that can be found in any textbook of neuroscience) that consists in finding within the brain’s neural network specific neural circuits that control corresponding forms of behavior is not correct?

    ■Neural network computational principle and its corollaries.

    ■What is Neural Optimal Control System (NOCS), its functional organization, and how various NOCSs can interact with each other?

    ■Understanding mechanisms of normal brain-initiated behaviors based on the new brain concept. The role of the spinal cord, the cerebellum, and the skeletomotor cortico – basal ganglia – thalamocortical loop in motor control is analyzed as an example.

    ■Brain disorders as the result of malfunctions in NOCSs. Parkinson's disease and some other disorders are analyzed as examples.

    ■How does the new concept change the understanding of the relationship between structure and function in the brain?

    ■The new brain concept as the foundation for a unifying brain theory capable of explaining various brain initiated normal and pathological behaviors.


Problems with switching to the new concept.

In any science, changing conceptual views is never easy. Especially difficult it will be to switch to the new brain concept. The new concept should be categorized as technogenic because it brings technical notions to neuroscience. To completely understand and actively use the new brain concept in systems neuroscience will require a deep knowledge of mathematics, neurocomputing, control theory, and numerous adjacent technical disciplines. Presently, this is not the case in biomedical field. The gap between biomedical and technical education is huge and to bridge it is not a simple task. In the history of neuroscience, there never was a situation when a gap between an existing concept and a new one was that big. A lot of knowledge is required to change an old concept and accept a new one. At universities, biomedical students are still taught the classical brain concept. The overwhelming majority of research in systems neuroscience (probably, more than 90 or even 95%) is also conducted based on classical views of the brain. This situation cannot be easily and quickly changed. The change will require huge funds, organizational efforts, and time.

In modern society, both educational and research systems are complex systems and, as such, possess colossal inertia. They are also intertwined. The major confronted problems are:

    ■How to expeditiously prepare new textbooks of fundamental and clinical neuroscience?

    ■Where to find a sufficient number of professors who can teach the new neuroscience?

    ■How to intensify research based on the new brain concept? Presently, such research is practically non-existent. It is obvious that the intensification will require principally new problem formulation and financial support. Both requirements are hard to achieve within any modern research system based on peer reviewed grant applications. As already mentioned above, the majority of researchers in system neuroscience are classicists, and fast change of their way of scientific thinking will be difficult, if not impossible. It is also hard to imagine how any grant application based on the new brain concept can successfully make it through the system of classical like-minded peers. Under these circumstances, the process of switching to the new concept can take many decades. If it is the case, it will mean a colossal waste of resources and time, a postponement of an adequate brain theory and real brain-like intelligent machines that have a potential to change the course of human civilization. 16 years have been already lost: A solution of CPG (Central pattern Generator) problem based on the new concept was found in 1992, but CPGs are still studied based on the old classical brain concept.

This web site will help to grasp the new brain concept. For some specialists like neurochemists, neuropharmacologists, morphologists, and some others it will be sufficient to see how their work fits the new concept and make necessary adjustments if necessary. However, for those scientists who have biomedical education and want to understand how the brain controls complex behaviors more serious adjustments in educational background are necessary. The adjustments may be an equivalent of obtaining a second educational degree in technical field.

This site is also a call to everybody who realizes the gravity of the situation in system neuroscience and is willing to participate in promoting the new brain concept in education and research. Reinterpretation of accumulated data and a formulation of principally new scientific problems is urgently needed. A worldwide campaign will help to overcome a resistance of those scientists who are comfortable with the existing situation and are not willing to change anything. I have encountered a lot of such scientists while giving numerous lectures and presentations on this topic.

I also hope that this site and worldwide discussions initiated by those who understand the necessity and urgency of conceptual changes in neuroscience will help to attract funds to research conducted based on the new brain concept. Originally, it could be private donations. Well established governmental funding systems, for the reasons already mentioned above, will need many many years to make a necessary turn in their funding priorities.

I'll gladly participate in any open discussion of the new concept and answer readers' questions. Some of the answers can be found in FAQ section. If you have any suggestion that can make this site better, please, send it to me. You may contact me at kbaev@neurallaws.com