In July 2013, my labmate Goncalo and I described the research interests of our lab, the Intelligent Systems Lab, using only the ten hundred most used words in the english language. The idea came from the Up-Goer Five Text Editor, which was inspired by this XKCD comic. Other scientists have also written about their work in a similar way, which you can find at the “Ten Hundred Words of Science” tumblr blog.
“We want to know how the brain understands the world. When we look at things, we know what to do with them. We can imagine picking them up, throwing them around, what they feel like, what they sound like. We do not know how to give this power to things that we make.
We try to understand this power by looking into the animal brain while it plays around in interesting worlds. When things in the world change, animals are surprised and look like they are trying to explain what happened. After that, they move in a different way when they expect thet world may change. By looking into their brains before and after the animals change what they expect, we hope to learn more about the brain’s power to understand worlds.
When we try to look at the brain, we are faced with a big problem. The brain is made of many cells that work together. We can hear them working, but we can only listen to very few of them at a time. Because of this, we try to build better ways to listen to more cells so we can understand what they are working on.”