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How the Brain Increases in Fitness

11/18/2010

How the Brain Increases in Fitness

11/18/2010

Investigator Team: Dr. Christof Koch, California Institute of Technology and Allen Institute for Brain Science, Dr. Chris Adami, Michigan State University, Dr. Giulio Tononi, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Project Title: “How the Brain Increases in Fitness”
Award Amount: $600,000 (2010)

Unlike many physical systems, brains and their pathologies have been resistant to deep explanations because of their complexity. Yet brains are also characterized by a high degree of flexibility, robustness, and intelligence. This group of Allen Distinguished Investigators is working to characterize why brains have these properties by relating the complexity of brains to how they adapt to sensory input. The group is developing a theoretical notion for "fitness" based on the mutual information between sensory input to an organism's brain and its possible motor outputs. Looking at the brains of the simple worm C. elegans, the researchers are finding that brain complexity increases as the organisms become more adapted to their environment – that is, the brain becomes more flexible, robust, and intelligent as it becomes more fit.