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Feb 21, 2013

Data Mining and Neuroscience


Bradley Voytek from University of California at SF gave a talk on data mining and neuroscience yesterday in Mountain View. This is part of Big Data Think Tank meetup.

Voytek said, data mining could play an important role in brain study and treatment. Imagine applying data mining to reduce open-skull surgery from 45 minutes to 2 minutes, imagine a better way to analyze and understand fMRI data. Imagine we can apply data mining to understand aging and brain response, helping us to identify ways to improve cognitive function for the elderly. In addition, not mentioned in this talk, are recent studies on applying data mining (specifically association rule mining) to understand Alzheimer’s disease, identifying associations in brain region change.

Voytek also mentioned the need to understand the network of neural signals. This is an exciting domain as it will ultimately help us to improve human cognition, such as hearing and vision. As reported recently in the news, the implementation of “bionic eyes” depends on the mapping of neurons corresponding to visual processing. Deeper understanding of neurons for this function could help us eradicate blindness completely. Imagine a future when there is no more blindness or deafness. How much human suffering can be eliminated!

Neuroscience is the next frontier of science. Understanding human brain and ultimately human consciousness will resolve age-old question on self and soul. With that understanding, imagine we can preserve consciousness or even human memory. It is not far-fetched to think we can watch another person’s memory like watching a movie, if we can truly understand those neural signals (associated memory retrieval).

It is exciting to see data mining can play an important role of in the advancement of science, particularly in neuroscience.

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