Approaching human cognition from many angles | MIT News

In January, as the Charles River was starting up to freeze more than, Keith Murray…

Approaching human cognition from many angles | MIT News

In January, as the Charles River was starting up to freeze more than, Keith Murray and the other associates of MIT’s men’s heavyweight crew workforce took to erging on the indoor rowing equipment. For 80 minutes at a time, Murray endured just one of the most grueling workout routines of his higher education experience. To distract himself from the soreness, he would talk with his teammates, covering every little thing from wonderful philosophical strategies to personalized coffee choices.

For Murray, pretty much any dialogue is an option to take a look at how folks think and why they feel in sure strategies. At present a senior double majoring in computation and cognition, and linguistics and philosophy, Murray attempts to realize the human encounter based on understanding from all of these fields.

“I’m hoping to mix unique techniques together to comprehend the complexities of human cognition,” he claims. “For case in point, from a physiological perspective, the mind is just billions of neurons firing all at after, but this rarely scratches the surface area of cognition.”

Murray grew up in Corydon, Indiana, exactly where he attended the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities all through his junior yr of high college. He was uncovered to philosophy there, learning the strategies of Plato, Socrates, and Thomas Aquinas, to name a handful of. When looking at faculties, Murray grew to become intrigued in MIT since he required to find out about human assumed procedures from distinct views. “Coming to MIT, I understood I desired to do one thing philosophical. But I wanted to also be on the additional technical side of factors,” he states.

Once on campus, Murray promptly pursued an possibility as a result of the Undergraduate Exploration Prospect Software (UROP) in the Digital Humanities Lab. There he worked with language-processing technological know-how to evaluate gendered language in a variety of novels, with the end target of displaying the data for an on-line viewers. He acquired about the primary mathematical products employed for analyzing and presenting info on the web, to examine the social implications of linguistic phrases and expressions.

Murray also joined the Concourse studying neighborhood, which brought together various views from the humanities, sciences, and math in a weekly seminar. “I was exposed to some outstanding illustrations of how to do interdisciplinary get the job done,” he remembers.

In the summertime prior to his sophomore 12 months, Murray took a placement as a researcher in the Harnett Lab, in which instead of functioning with novels, he was performing with mice. Together with postdoc Lucas Fisher, Murray experienced mice to do navigational tasks applying virtual actuality machines. His intention was to discover neural encoding in navigation, comprehension why the mice behaved in certain ways after getting shown selected stimuli on the screens. Paying time in the lab, Murray became more and more intrigued in neuroscience and the biological elements behind human believed processes.

He sought out other neuroscience-linked exploration encounters, which led him to examine a SuperUROP task in MIT’s Computer system Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Functioning beneath Professor Nancy Lynch, he developed theoretical styles of the retina making use of equipment discovering. Murray was thrilled to use the strategies he acquired in 9.40 (Introduction to Neural Computation) to address advanced neurological complications. Murray considers this just one of his most demanding investigate experiences, as the experience was solely on the web.

“It was throughout the pandemic, so I experienced to study a ton on my individual I couldn’t exactly do investigate in a lab. It was a huge obstacle, but at the finish, I figured out a lot and ended up acquiring a publication out of it,” he demonstrates.

This previous semester, Murray has labored in the lab of Professor Ila Fiete in the McGovern Institute for Mind Study, setting up deep-understanding styles of animals carrying out navigational responsibilities. By means of this UROP, which builds on his last venture from Fiete’s class 9.49 (Neural Circuits for Cognition), Murray has been doing the job to incorporate current theoretical products of the hippocampus to investigate the intersection amongst synthetic intelligence and neuroscience.

Reflecting on his diversified study activities, Murray suggests they have shown him new strategies to take a look at the human mind from several views, one thing he finds helpful as he tries to fully grasp the complexity of human conduct.

Outside of his educational pursuits, Murray has continued to row with the crew staff, exactly where he walked on his very first 12 months. He sees rowing as a way to construct up his strength, equally physically and mentally. “When I’m carrying out my course operate or I’m pondering about projects, I am working with the very same psychological toughness that I made all through rowing,” he says. “That’s a thing I learned at MIT, to cultivate the perseverance you set towards a thing. It’s all the very same psychological toughness irrespective of whether you apply it to actual physical activities like rowing, or investigate initiatives.”

Looking forward, Murray hopes to pursue a PhD in neuroscience, wanting to locate approaches to incorporate his like of philosophy and human assumed into his cognitive exploration. “I feel there is a great deal far more to do with neuroscience, primarily with synthetic intelligence. There are so several new technological developments occurring proper now,” he suggests.