Using artificial neural networks to ask ‘why’questions of minds and brains


Neuroscientists have long characterized the properties and functions of the nervous system, and are increasingly succeeding in answering how brains perform the tasks they do. But the question ‘why’ brains work the way they do is asked less often. The new ability to optimize artificial neural networks (ANNs) for performance on human-like tasks now enables us to approach these ‘why’ questions by asking when the properties of networks optimized for a given task mirror the behavioral and neural characteristics of humans performing the same task. Here we highlight the recent success of this strategy in explaining why the visual and auditory systems work the way they do, at both behavioral and neural levels.

Trends in Neurosciences
Meenakshi Khosla
Meenakshi Khosla
Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science

My research interests include computational neuroscience, artificial intelligence and large-scale data analysis.