Research Topic

The Deep Brain: How the Nervous System Deals with the Hidden Environment

About this Research Topic

The fundamental role of any nervous system is to perceive information from its environment and process it in order to generate an adequate response. For that reason, increasingly complex structures have been developed through evolution to optimize the information required by the subject to ensure its survival. Moving beyond the input-output view on early nervous systems, the brain, as the most sophisticated nervous structure, generates an abstraction of the external reality by continuously re-elaborating both the external and internal information to extract those environment features ‘hidden’ from the sensory organs but critical for the survival of the individual. Time is perhaps one of the most important (and elusive) features of reality that cannot be perceived as such by the senses, but there are many other sources of hidden information that our brain must deal with.

How can a danger that has never been previously seen be recognized? How does the brain decide whether another organism is or not a threat? How does the brain process potential encounters under uncertainty and ambiguity? Research is now showing that these findings could be variations on the same process: maintaining meaning, or coherence. The brain evolved to predict, and it does so by identifying patterns, which frequently go unnoticed by our conscious mind but that form the scaffolding of this hidden information. Understanding the dynamics of information processing and its causal power in the brain is not only paramount for neuroscience but also for the development of robotics and artificial intelligence. Great efforts are being made to develop algorithms capable of recreating these cognitive functions, some of which are based on high performance but without a clear knowledge of the underlying mechanisms. Thus, the scope of this topic is the investigation, from a multidisciplinary point of view, of the interaction processes of the nervous system with these sources of information that are not directly accessible in the strict sense and that give rise to abstractions that allow organisms to interact in a sophisticated way with their environment. Some of the most exciting research on this area is coming from a neural contexts and unconventional computation, which explores the algorithms by which different biological or in-silico systems make decisions and implement complex adaptive behaviour.

Original research manuscripts within these themes, but not restricted to, will be welcomed:

- Memory and sensory systems-based cognition in biological organisms lacking animal/human-type brains

- Generalization and abstraction

- Interaction with inaccessible objects

- Social interaction

- Space and time in the brain

- Evolution of cognition

- Primitive cognition and pattern formation

- Emergence of cognitive properties/abilities

- Unconventional computation in biological systems


Keywords: Unconventional computation, Emergence of cognition, Generalization, Social cognition, Interactions, Abstraction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The fundamental role of any nervous system is to perceive information from its environment and process it in order to generate an adequate response. For that reason, increasingly complex structures have been developed through evolution to optimize the information required by the subject to ensure its survival. Moving beyond the input-output view on early nervous systems, the brain, as the most sophisticated nervous structure, generates an abstraction of the external reality by continuously re-elaborating both the external and internal information to extract those environment features ‘hidden’ from the sensory organs but critical for the survival of the individual. Time is perhaps one of the most important (and elusive) features of reality that cannot be perceived as such by the senses, but there are many other sources of hidden information that our brain must deal with.

How can a danger that has never been previously seen be recognized? How does the brain decide whether another organism is or not a threat? How does the brain process potential encounters under uncertainty and ambiguity? Research is now showing that these findings could be variations on the same process: maintaining meaning, or coherence. The brain evolved to predict, and it does so by identifying patterns, which frequently go unnoticed by our conscious mind but that form the scaffolding of this hidden information. Understanding the dynamics of information processing and its causal power in the brain is not only paramount for neuroscience but also for the development of robotics and artificial intelligence. Great efforts are being made to develop algorithms capable of recreating these cognitive functions, some of which are based on high performance but without a clear knowledge of the underlying mechanisms. Thus, the scope of this topic is the investigation, from a multidisciplinary point of view, of the interaction processes of the nervous system with these sources of information that are not directly accessible in the strict sense and that give rise to abstractions that allow organisms to interact in a sophisticated way with their environment. Some of the most exciting research on this area is coming from a neural contexts and unconventional computation, which explores the algorithms by which different biological or in-silico systems make decisions and implement complex adaptive behaviour.

Original research manuscripts within these themes, but not restricted to, will be welcomed:

- Memory and sensory systems-based cognition in biological organisms lacking animal/human-type brains

- Generalization and abstraction

- Interaction with inaccessible objects

- Social interaction

- Space and time in the brain

- Evolution of cognition

- Primitive cognition and pattern formation

- Emergence of cognitive properties/abilities

- Unconventional computation in biological systems


Keywords: Unconventional computation, Emergence of cognition, Generalization, Social cognition, Interactions, Abstraction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

26 November 2021 Abstract
26 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

26 November 2021 Abstract
26 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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