Noise in Biology

This article in Quantamagazine talks about how classes of patterns that occur in drug-induced hallucinations can arise. Over 60 years ago Turing proposed a biological mechanism that was responsible e.g. for spots and stripes in animals’ fur. Now physicists have worked noise into that mechanism to make it more robust in a messy environment like the brain and proposed that stochastic Turing mechanism as a possible cause for why these classes of regular patterns occur in (drug-inspired) vision.

It says in the article:

The findings also demonstrate how noise plays a pivotal role in biological organisms. “There is not a direct correlation between how we program computers” and how biological systems work, Weiss said. “Biology requires different frameworks and design principles. Noise is one of them.”

This just makes you wonder (as always) how amidst all that noise something like the language faculty can emerge – especially if you buy into the idea that there is a computational core to language (computational as in Computational Theory of Mind).

A fascinating problem indeed!

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