hungy hungry hippocampus

July 28, 2008

Big weekend of helping people move in, including a side trip all the way out to Westfield.

beast of a catapult
Had some time on my own, and finally managed to beat all 20 levels of Fantastic Contraption. Of all the ones I did and saved, acrobat is probably the niftiest... my solution for the final one is a serious beast. The site has a whole forum with people talking about it, and also people are posting original level designs and even a way of viewing other folk's solutions to those custom designs. While I'm proud of myself for having gotten through the original 20 levels, I think now I'm content to admire the cleverness of completed solutions rather than struggle on on my own...

The community is great, and paging through other people's solutions, sometimes I found myself giggling out loud.

Passage of the Moment
I have noticed that, as I get older, I have trouble remembering new things. For example, my children remember the details of most of the theatrical plays they have seen in the past year. I can't. Perhaps this is because I have seen so many plays in my life that rarely do I see anything truly new. New plays fit into memories of past plays, and the information just doesn't make it to my hippocampus. For my children, each play is more novel and does reach the hippocampus. If this is true, we could say the more you know, the less you remember.
--Jeff Hawkins, "On Intelligence". I ended up like linking this book very much, despite how he favors Searle over Turing, and a few times when I think he underestimates the summarization ability of various functions of the brain. His core idea is that the real key to the mind and consciousness is neocortex... even going so far as to say that "consciousness is what it feels like to have a cortex". He sees the neocortex as a hierarchical memory/prediction/pattern recognition system with the hippocampus at the very top...lower levels recognize patterns and send summary patterns on up, higher levels send predictions of what they'd expect to see next in the pattern on down. When something pattern is novel, it goes up all the way to the top to the hippocampus, where it has a shot at becoming a memory. (And people with a damaged hippocampus often can't form memories.)

I find this viewpoint very compatible with my introspection, and helps explains a lot of mental phenomena, from the power of visualization to our love of pattern in music and art, to why we can rely on mental autopilot sometimes.

w00t, just beat all 20 levels of "fantastic contraption" - now I feel stupidly smart, some of those other builders are so clever...
I don't have much against the guy, but so weird that we have a general whose last name is phonetically "betray us" - self-writing snark!
Dumb enough to drop your iced latte at the soup-r-salad. Gilding the lily for it to be some kind of bring your daughter to work day.