The human brain is a network of 10 11 neurons with 1015 connections, making it the most complex system in the universe. Systems/cognitive neuroscience is the study of how information processing in this vast neural network gives rise to perception, memory, abstract thought, complex behavior, and consciousness itself. This is the mind/body problem, debated by philosophers for millennia, now accessible to empirical inquiry, and one of the great remaining scientific frontiers. Johns Hopkins has an unusual concentration of systems/cognitive laboratories, with a focus on quantitative, network-level understanding of cognitive information processing. Experimental tools include neurophysiology, brain imaging, and psychophysics. Analytical approaches involve systems identification, dimensionality reduction, information theory, and network modeling. One major area of interest is how visual and tactile information processing leads to perception and understanding of two- and three-dimensional objects. Another focus is on neural processing and recognition of speech and other complex sounds. Other laboratories study neural mechanisms of attention, memory formation, motor learning, decision-making and executive control of behavior.
The Zanvyl Krieger Mind / Brain Institute is a free standing institute at the Johns Hopkins University with strong connections to the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and to the School of Medicine. The institute is dedicated to the study of the neural mechanisms of higher brain functions using modern neurophysiological, anatomical, and computational techniques.