Fundamental Discovery emphasizes mechanisms of higher brain functions, especially those functions that distinguish us as human: perception, cognition and intelligent behavior. Understanding these complex functions requires a multilevel approach where Brown has strong faculty addressing key questions:
- Neural function at the molecular and genetic level: All of the operations of the brain begin with these basic building blocks. The structure and properties of brain cells are proscribed by their genes and the molecules those genes create.
- Cells and circuits. Higher brain functions seem to depend on how neurons wire themselves into particular circuits. Brown is a leader in understanding the details of these circuits and how they give rise to special properties.
- Systems for Vision, Action, Cognition and Mind. Brown faculty spanning several departments investigate how we understand what we see, how we think, make decisions and carry out complex actions, such as speaking or learning to drive a car. Brown’s faculty is widely known for its excellence in this area, particularly bolstered by recent hiring in the new Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Science.
- Computation and Theory. The brain is perhaps the most complex computational machine in the universe. It processes information in ways unlike any device we know, in order to transform ideas to actions, create and understand, or store and retrieve vast amounts of information. Understanding these processes require creation of models, guided by well-founded theories and mathematical principles.