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Research opportunities

Gary Powell gip at comlab.ox.ac.uk
Mon Feb 7 07:37:10 EST 1994

Home is where the brain is?  WANTED:  Opening in brain research for 
a mathematician/computer scientist.

I am a recently graduated Computer Science / Mathematics graduate
from Manchester University, England.  I am very interested in 
getting involved in cognitive modelling research.  By this I mean
modelling aspects of the brain (e.g. visual processing, consciousness,
language), based on solid neurophysiological data about the brain.  The
modelling would involve experimenting with plausible structures that
could, in some way, be present in the brain.  I am interested in modelling
structures and processes only where there is enough data to enable
these models to be scientifically assessed without resorting to too much
handwaving.  I would rather concentrate on quite small scale problems 
(such as stereoscopic vision) that are within reach of current understanding,
rather than more major problems, such as the internal manipulation of 
knowledge, which we cannot yet tie down in any precise way.

However, my background of everything beyond maths and computers (for
instance a knowledge of brain physiology) is fairly scanty.  This leads
me to two questions:

   1.  Is it possible to jump straight into such research, and make a 
       useful contribution, (i.e. start a PhD) without a more formal
       background in the subject?

   2.  Are there any taught courses, MSc's or the like, for scientists
       from a technical background who wish to become involved in
       brain research?

I know that good work of the sort I am interested in is being conducted
at Oxford, Sussex, Sheffield within the UK (particularly in vision research),
but I am less sure of taught courses, or of work elsewhere.  I am interested 
in courses both in the U.K. and the rest of the world.
If there are any suitable courses, can anyone suggest how I might obtain
funding, particularly for courses overseas.  

Finally, is this the best group to post this message to?  Rather than
flood tens of groups with the same message, I thought I'd start with this
one group, and take it from there.

Comments and suggestions of any sort welcome,


Gary Powell.

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