Opinion: Making a brain map we can use

book cover“It is now conventional wisdom that the brain is the seat of the mind; it is alone through the brain’s workings that we think and feel and know,” writes UC Berkeley philosophy professor Alva Noë.

“But what is a brain, anyway? Is the brain a data processor? A biologically evolved computer?”

If so, then isn’t mapping brain cells, in an effort to understand how the brain works, “as wrong-headed as mapping out the atoms in a smartphone to understand how it works?”

Noë is the author of Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness. He thinks out loud about efforts to map the brain’s system of connections, on National Public Radio’s “13.7 cosmos & culture” website.