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Friday, June 13, 2008

How the Brain Works (no more kid gloves!)

Proposal For A Structural and Electrical Conductance Map Of The Brain At The Neuron Scale

Randall Reetz 8/28/01

Goal: To produce (through direct measurement) a digital multidimensional data set (and simulation models) of the human brain capturing sufficient structure and behavioral information (dendrite scale) to accurately derive a robust specification of it's function.

Intro: For hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years, we have wondered what mechanisms drive thinking and the self. Certainly the most complex organ in our bodies, the brain is understandably the least understood organ as well. However, I contend that complexity is not the only hurdle standing between us an understanding of the brain's function and the mechanisms that precipitate function. I believe we have a species-wide (maybe even bio-wide) bias against knowing how knowing works. Is it possible that we are afraid to know what knowing actually is? It is way past time to gather our balls and pull back the terrible curtains hanging between us and this most forbidden Wizard of Oz. In computers we have a modeling medium robust enough to handle the complexity of n-dimentional causal networks. If we apply modern nano-scale scanning techniques to the measurement of the brain at resolutions sufficient to capture relevant structural data (maybe 1 50th the width of a dendrite) and simultaneously augment this 3D data with simultaneously acquired, spectral/chemical and electrical conductance data, then we can begin to build and refine empirically derived functional simulations. We will finely know how the brain works (or at the very least, how it doesn't work)! Time to take the kid-gloves off. Its time to stop talking and philosophizing in the dark. We have all of the tools, technologies, methods, and knowledges we need to illuminate this one great darkness in human knowledge. Its time to shut up and start measuring.

Method: Nano-scale cryo

A. Suspend head and neck (in natural attitude) in electrically neutral medium that will cure into semisolid.
B. Cryogenically freeze suspended head (block) at liquid Nitrogen temperatures.
C. In nano-scale steps... 1. Shave surface of block (in steps of 1/50th diameter of dendrite). 2. Scan surface revealed by each shaving (at resolution of 1/50th diameter of dendrite) with the following detectors... a. Optically at range from infrared through visible light and into the ultraviolet range. b. For Electrical Conductance by dragging a nano-scale probe along surface scanning both surface measurements of conductance with detection plate (covering entire surface of shave) and through magnetic inductance scan at depth. c. Spectral analysis of optical scans for elemental makeup.
D. Run raw scan data set through software filters designed to reduce it to functional and structural maps.
E. Run functional map data sets through software designed to reduce it to computational logic.
F. Run sensory data through computational logic maps to produce input/output sets.
G. Analyze input/output sets do derive description of brain function and methods.

Randall Reetz

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