How can an engineer learn from neuroscientists

Jim Kroger kroger at ucla.edu
Sat Mar 8 04:02:28 EST 1997


In article <5fg581$4p4 at kira.cc.uakron.edu>, nutty at brain (Madhusudan
Natarajan) wrote:

| Kevin Spencer (kspencer at s.psych.uiuc.edu) wrote:
| : junior1 at ibm.net  [Bernie Arruza] writes:
| 
| : [snip]
| 
| : >Universities have very little incentive to merge their departments to
study the
| : >mysteries of the brain.
| 
| : Excuse me, but you are quite wrong.  I guess you don't know that many
| : universities in the past 10 years have been establishing cognitive science
| : and cognitive neuroscience departments and programs.  Whole conferences and
| : journals devoted to these new integrative disciplines have sprung up.  The
| : 1990s have been proclaimed the "Decade of the Brain" and the fed govt and
| : private foundations have made funding cognitive neuroscience a priority.
| 
| Right, but a lot of these departments still are lost in the process of 
| identity establishment. I was trying to get into a school for my Ph.D. 
| where I could get my hands wet with animal models as well as try 
| computational models. While individual people adopt this approach, whole 
| programs do not run on these lines. The approach, I have found, in 
| cognitive neuro. depts is to blend a mix of people who do whole system 
| animal models (or some fraction thereof) and computational/psych. people, 
| but rarely people who do both -- which would be the ideal mix. I found 
| more biomed. departments catering to my interests of being an engineer as 
| well as a  neuroscientist than any cognitive sciences program. (I ended 
| up in a science program, but thats besides the point).
| 


I do computational models, behavioral cognitive studies with humans,
recording from rhesus monkey frontal cortex, and fMRI of humans during
cognitive tasks. I'm a grad in cognitive at UCLA who has branched out
on my own to take advantage of the intense brain research at UCLA. 

I find your statements to be an overgeneralization. You should concentrate
on people, not programs. If there are labs at a campus working on different
things, then so can you, time permitting. The cognitive science and 
cognitive neuroscience programs in existence at UCLA have been distinctions
that have had no effect on my work and which I've pretty much ignored. 
The point is whether there are people working on what you want to work on,
however many things that may be. 

Jim Kroger

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