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Office Hours with Drew University’s Minjoon Kouh

The nature of biological and artificial intelligence

July 2021 – This summer, we’re spending time in office hours with some of Drew University’s amazing faculty to learn about what interests and inspires them and their research.

Today, we’re talking with Minjoon Kouh, Associate Professor of Physics and Neuroscience.

What most interests you about physics and neuroscience?

What is the nature of intelligence—whether it is biological, like the human brain, or artificial, like AI? What are the computational mechanisms that support and produce an intelligent behavior?

Why does this fascinate you?

It’s just fun!

What are the implications of these topics?

In a nervous system, information is passed between neurons and processed via electrical and chemical signaling. It is possible to describe and approximate such computational processes mathematically and algorithmically. With enough understanding, we would be able to understand the basis of biological intelligence and even build non-biological agents that can learn and behave effectively in a messy, noisy world.

How do you bring these subjects into the classroom?

I incorporate topics in computational neuroscience and machine learning in my teaching. For example, the concepts of electrical potential and electrical current from physics are fundamental to understanding how the neurons communicate via action potentials. I work with many students on research projects in modeling visual cortex, implementing machine learning algorithms, and analyzing human eye movements.

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