2013 California Meeting
Executive Committee
Ablin Lecture
Cloward Award
Forms & Documents

2010: Chris Wood, MD
Chris Wood
Chris Wood
Dr. Chris Wood received his PhD from Yale University in 1973. Following a postdoctoral appointment at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington DC, he returned to Yale as a faculty member with joint appointments in the Departments of Psychology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery. Chris left Yale in 1989 to lead the Biophysics Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a position he held until becoming the Santa Fe Institute’s Vice President in 2005. At Los Alamos, Chris’ group was responsible for a wide range of biophysical and physical research, including protein crystallography, quantum information, and human brain imaging. During 2000-2001, Chris served as interim director of the National Foundation for Functional Brain Imaging, a collaboration involving Harvard / Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Minnesota, and a number of academic and research institutions in New Mexico devoted to the development and application of advanced functional imaging techniques to mental disorders. Chris’ research interests include imaging and modeling the human brain, computational neuroscience, and biological computation.

What Kind of Computer is the Brain?
While most scientists agree that the brain “processes information” and many would claim that the brain “computes” in one sense or another, the precise meanings of “information processing” and “computation” in those claims are unclear. In this talk I will address the questions “Does the brain compute?” and “If so, what and how?” The theory of computation is mainly expressed as abstractions that are independent of any particular physical realization. However, once an abstract computation is actually implemented it becomes a physical phenomenon and the physical substrate, silicon or brain tissue for example, matters tremendously. I will focus in particular on the question of whether “computational primitives” exist for the brain that are analogous to binary arithmetic and Boolean algebra, which are the “computational primitives” of the digital architectures in our laptops and desktops with which we are far more familiar.