Logics in Animal Cognition: Are They Important to Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) And Aerospace Missions?
Ma, Zhanshan (Sam)
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Conventional wisdom is that logic and language are tightly connected to logics in human cognition. However, recent studies have revealed that, in animal cognition, there exist logics that do not depend on languages. In other words, logical behavior is not human brain specific. At least four logics: perceptual logic, technical logic, social logic, and inference logic have been studied in animal cognition. Despite the obvious differences between animals and humans in using languages, recent studies confirm that both humans and animals utilize the socalled sensor brain maps for most sensory modalities: populations of neurons are selectively tuned to different stimulus features or feature combinations (Ewert 2005, Ma and Krings 2009). This commonality suggests that the studies of animal logics should also be insightful for understanding human logics. After briefly reviewing some of the recent advances in animal logics research, we turn to a more practical research field—the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) [also known as Brain Machine Interface (BMI)] in biomedicine. BCI promises to provide nonmuscular communication and control for people with severe motor disabilities. A fundamental goal of BCI is to translate thought or intent into action with brain activity only (Birbaumer 2006). If we recognize that logic is about the way of thinking and it is probably the most reliable and possibly most efficient way to understand thoughts, an interesting question could be: will the understanding of animal logics be very helpful for BCI research? The current BCI research is primarily targeted for rehabilitation applications. In this article, we also discuss the potential of using BCI techniques in aerospace systems and space explorations. One can imagine the potential that an astronaut operates a robot device by only thinking. Perhaps a revolutionary breakthrough from BCI technology can be the 'copiloting' of aerial vehicles by multiple pilots including some who stations at the ground. This copiloting not only reduces the stress (brain fatigue) of pilots, but also enhances the reliability and fault tolerance of aerial vehicles.
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