This is The Big Question that boggle our laboratory everyday. The BML began in August 2012 on a voyage to discover the answers to these questions. We hope and believe that not only will such understanding potentially help in the development of interventions to treat brain-based and related disease, it will also be important for improving human life. Not to mention, we think its cool.
The approaches we use include, but are not limited to, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of brain structure and function, cognitive experimental tests, and neuropsychological assessments.
We also work closely with others who focus on electrophysiological methodology, bio-molecular work on neurons at the cellular level, as well as animal work. In other words, we are a very open, multi-disciplinary lab and we do whatever we can to get at the answers.
Our recent findings have led us to take the view that the brain is an intelligent system that maintains prior inferences about the environment and integrates the sensations it experiences through its interactions with the environment to form new inferences. To validate this view and to explore its implications, the lab engages three broad research areas. First, we examine how age and culture influence mental functions. We compare human young and older adult brain activities during decision-making processing under uncertainty and consider different patterns in East Asians vs. Westerners. Second, we examine how older adult brain functions represent spatial, social, and conceptual environments and implement an intervention study of the efficacy of robot programming training in improving inferential processing in older adults. Third, we develop an artificial neural network, informed by neuropsychological principles, to improve human-machine interactions.
What we’ve found so far confirms something that we’ve suspected a long time ago: The brain is awesome in its very nature, and the mind, intoxicating! But we are still very very far from answering The Big Question. Join us as we continue the journey.