From 'Understanding the Brain by Creating the Brain' towards manipulative neuroscience

M. Kawato
2008 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences  
Ten years have passed since the Japanese 'Century of the Brain' was promoted, and its most notable objective, the unique 'creating the brain' approach, has led us to apply a humanoid robot as a neuroscience tool. Here, we aim to understand the brain to the extent that we can make humanoid robots solve tasks typically solved by the human brain by essentially the same principles. I postulate that this 'Understanding the Brain by Creating the Brain' approach is the only way to fully understand
more » ... al mechanisms in a rigorous sense. Several humanoid robots and their demonstrations are introduced. A theory of cerebellar internal models and a systems biology model of cerebellar synaptic plasticity is discussed. Both models are experimentally supported, but the latter is more easily verifiable while the former is still controversial. I argue that the major reason for this difference is that essential information can be experimentally manipulated in molecular and cellular neuroscience while it cannot be manipulated at the system level. I propose a new experimental paradigm, manipulative neuroscience, to overcome this difficulty and allow us to prove cause-and-effect relationships even at the system level.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.2272 pmid:18375374 pmcid:PMC2610191 fatcat:ci6zc3nq7fdobhxw5win7d5ed4