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Deep learning comes full circle

Daniel Yamins and the Stanford NeuroAI Lab are using artificial intelligence to better understand the brain. (Image credit: Getty Images)

May 4 2018

Posted In:

Faculty, In the News

Artificial intelligence drew much inspiration from the human brain but went off in its own direction. Now, AI has come full circle and is helping neuroscientists better understand how our own brains work.

By Nathan Collins

For years, the people developing artificial intelligence drew inspiration from what was known about the human brain, and it has enjoyed a lot of success as a result. Now, AI is starting to return the favor.

Although not explicitly designed to do so, certain artificial intelligence systems seem to mimic our brains’ inner workings more closely than previously thought, suggesting that both AI and our minds have converged on the same approach to solving problems. If so, simply watching AI at work could help researchers unlock some of the deepest mysteries of the brain.

“There’s a real connection there,” said Daniel Yamins, assistant professor of psychology. Now, Yamins, who is also a faculty scholar of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute and a member of Stanford Bio-X, and his lab are building on that connection to produce better theories of the brain – how it perceives the world, how it shifts efficiently from one task to the next and perhaps, one day, how it thinks.