Our brains give us the remarkable ability to make sense of situations we’ve never encountered before—a familiar person in an unfamiliar place, for example, or a coworker in a different job role—but the mechanism our brains use to accomplish this has been a longstanding mystery of neuroscience.
Now, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated that our brains could process these new situations by relying on a method similar to the “pointer” system used by computers. “Pointers” are used to tell a computer where to look for information stored elsewhere in the system to replace a variable.
But a computer and a brain are not the same stuff. In fact, O’Reilly said: "While the results show that a pointer-like system could be at play in the brain, the function is not identical to the system used in computer science. It’s similar to comparing an airplane’s wing and a bird’s wing. They’re both used for flying but they work differently."
So, this is the main question: what is the difference between a computer and our brain?
The research is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (full access paywall)
The image is credited to: Alejandro Zorrilal Cruz.