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Computer Simulates Daydreaming

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have created a virtual model of a brain that daydreams as you and I do.

Researchers created the computer model based on the dynamics of brain cells and the many connections those cells make with their neighbors and with cells in other brain regions. They hope the model will help them understand why certain portions of the brain work together when a person daydreams or is mentally idle. This, in turn, may one day help doctors better diagnose and treat brain injuries.

“We can give our model lesions like those we see in stroke or brain cancer, disabling groups of virtual cells to see how brain function is affected,” said senior author Maurizio Corbetta, MD, the Norman J. Stupp Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “We can also test ways to push the patterns of activity back to normal.”

In the 1982 film 2010 (the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the computer scientist Dr. Chandra works with his artificially intelligent computer, the SAL-9000. In the excerpt shown below, Dr. Chandra asks SAL to assist in an experiment, to try to determine what would happen if the HAL-9000 computer could be reactivated.


(Dr. Chandra speaks with SAL-9000)

SAL-9000: I would like to ask a question.

Chandra: What is it?

SAL-9000: Will I dream?

Chandra: Of course you will dream. All intelligent creatures dream, nobody knows why. Perhaps you will dream of HAL, just as I often do.

From Daydreaming simulated by computer model .

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