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Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

ISSN Print: 0892-0915

Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevNeurobiol.v19.i2-3.30
pages 119-202

A New Conceptual Understanding of Brain Function: Basic Mechanisms of Brain-Initiated Normal and Pathological Behaviors

Konstantin V. Baev
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ 85013

ABSTRACT

This article attempts to show why classical conceptual views of the brain that can be found in any neuroscience textbook are not capable of providing an adequate explanation of brain-initiated normal and pathological behaviors and why the classical view should therefore be replaced with a new concept of the brain. The major reason for the inadequacy of the classical model is its explanation of the relationship between structure and function in the brain. This article introduces a new brain concept based on two discoveries: the discovery of the neural network computational principle and the discovery of the generic functional organization of hierarchical neural optimal control systems. A neural optimal control system is a learning system that possesses a model of the behavior of its controlled object. A hierarchy of neural optimal control systems is functionally organized in such a way that a higher level neural optimal control system treats a lower one as its controlled object and creates a model of its behavior. The ability of the new conceptual brain model to explain brain mechanisms of normal and pathological behaviors is demonstrated through the examples of spinal reflexes and central pattern generators, the cerebellum, skeletomotor cortico-basal ganglia-thalamocortical loop, and Parkinson's disease and some other brain disorders. In this article, a new understanding of the relationship between structure and function in the brain is introduced. This article also discusses organizational and educational changes in the neurosciences that may be necessary to accelerate a broad acceptance of this new concept of the brain.