Monday, 11 May 2015

I am doing an online course on the Mind ...

I have started on a FutureLearn course "What is a Mind" and tried to introduce myself as follows (but message was limited to 1200 characters):
My interest in the mind arises from an unconventional uk research project that I worked on which started in 1967 but died from lack of funding . This was looking at the design of an inherently human-friendly "white box computer" - in complete contrast with the incomprehensible "black box" approach of the conventional stored program computer. This led to the production of schools package (MicroCODIL) which ran on the BBC Computer and got rave reviews, followed by publication in the top UK Computer Journal.  Despite this success Unfortunately the project had already folded due to the lack of funding, as the ideas were incompatible with the way the computer establishment thought the industry should be going. Perhaps I should have continued but at the time I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following a family suicide.
In recent years I decided to revisit the research and found that what had started as a purely computer hardware proposal could almost certainly be mapped onto a neural net, and the way that the system worked seems to be a crude (but working) model of human short term memory. In addition there seems to be a feasible evolutionary pathway relating the aanimal brain to human intelligence.
I have joined this course because I want to discover more about how the human mind works - and also to have the opportunity to discuss how my ideas relate to those of others interested in the brain's workings.
Information on the project and my ideas can be found on my blog
Hopefully I will get a lot of new ideas, and there will be some interesting discussions. If so I will report back here ...


  1. A wide variety of people are joining the course and there are different veiws of the distinction between the brain and the mind. I injected the following comment which makes my position very clear:

    One needs a terminology to distinguish between the physical components of an object and the information that is stored within the object. You could say all old fashioned photographs are the same - a piece of paper with grains of silver scattered about on one side. But the pictures that is conveyed by the grains of silver can be very different. I would say that all human brains are very similar - but that the patterns of knowledge stored within them (the mind) is very different.

  2. Other thoughts:

    Think of your brain as a kind of mirror and the mind as the reflection of all your life’s experiences in that mirror, including reflections of other minds (parents, teachers, friends, etc.) you have encountered on the way. Every mind will be different, and will always be changing as you experience new things. Of course the brain is an imperfect mirror - selectively remembering or forgetting reflected images along the way. Defects in the brain, sometimes caused by illness, can act to distort can lead to internal reflections which amplify the remembered images leading to seeing vivid images, hearing voices, or perhaps deep depression or feelings of terror. Language can be seen as a way of transferring reflections between one brain and another, and the main difference between us and animals is that they don’t have language.