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[Colloquium] Natural intelligence to Artificial intelligence: A new route that can be taken

January 31, 2013

Watch Colloquium: 

M4V file (674 MB)

  • Date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 
  • Time: 11:00 am — 11:50 am 
  • Place: Mechanical Engineering 218

Kunjumon Vadakkan
University of Manitoba, Canada 

Intelligence is often considered a secondary manifestation resulting from the abilities to memorize. What is the biological mechanism of memories? Current biological experiments are relying on specific behavioral motor outputs of spoken language or locomotion as measures of retrieved memories. But what exactly are memories? If we view memories as virtual internal sensations formed within the nervous system at the time of memory retrieval, how can we make further investigations? In other words, can we study the virtual sensory qualities of the internal sensations of memory? We examined possible basic units of virtual internal sensations of memory at the time of its retrieval, hypothesized re-activable cellular changes from which they can occur and traced the locations of these cellular changes back to the time of associative learning for feasible operational mechanisms. However, it is difficult to prove operation of such mechanism in biological systems. Exploration of this will only be achieved by carrying out the gold standard test of its replication in physical systems. Engineering challenges in this approach include devising methods to convert the first person perspective of internal sensations to appropriate readouts. Experiments to translate theoretically feasible neuronal mechanisms of its formation both by computational and engineering methods are required. I will explain a possible biological mechanism with substantiating evidences and will provide a broad outline of both computational and engineering methods to test the operation in physical systems. There are challenges ahead; but a collaborative efforts between Neurosciences and Physical and Engineering sciences can take further steps.


Bio: Kunjumon Vadakkan is interested in understanding how internal sensations are created from neuronal activities. Specific features of some of the diseases are likely to provide clues to understand the normal functioning of the nervous system from which formation of internal sensations may be understood. After graduating Medicine in 1988 and practicing family medicine for a short period, Dr. Vadakkan completed the MD program in Biochemistry at the Calicut University, India. This was followed by a Research Associate position at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi to study negative regulatory elements upstream of p53 gene. He moved to Canada in 1999, did MSc (under Dr.Umberto DeBoni) and PhD (under Dr. Min Zhuo) from the University of Toronto. Later, he did post-doctoral training in Dr. Mark Zylka’s laboratory at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Currently, he is a 4th year Resident in Neurology at the University of Manitoba.