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Neuron

Editorial

How Does the Brain Work?


The ultimate goal of neuroscientific research is to understand how the brain works. To achieve this goal, we need the concerted effort
across disciplines to put the puzzle together. While there is no doubt that theory-based research has made crucial contributions to
our understanding of brain functions, a closer crosstalk between theory and experimental research could help promote further prog-
ress in addressing fundamental challenges in brain research.
In this special issue, Neuron is pleased to present a collection of Perspectives from both experimentalists and theoreticians
exploring current brain theories and discussing their ideas for how the brain might work. The special issue How Does the Brain
Work? emerged from a workshop with the same name that took place at the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen in September
2016. The participants of this workshop discussed emerging brain theories and presented their ideas for a common brain theory.
As these discussions highlighted the great potential for these theory-driven approaches to advance our neurobiological understand-
ing, Neuron was excited to collaborate with the organizers of this workshop, Dr. Per Roland (Department of Neuroscience and
Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen) and Dr. Henrik Linden (Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of
Copenhagen), and invited the original speakers of this workshop to contribute to this collection.
The original aim of these articles was to provide a survey of current brain theories, to identify current gaps, and to fill these gaps with
hypotheses. As you will see, some of these hypotheses are speculative considering our current knowledge. However, while these
hypotheses are theoretically motivated, some of them have the potential to be translated into testable experiments.
We hope that these Perspectives will not only provide a useful summary for theoreticians, but that they will also be inspiring to
readers who may be coming from experimental disciplines. The Perspectives cover a multitude of topics ranging from information
processing within neural networks at different scales (local versus global) and in different domains (spatial versus temporal) to models
for the neural control of movement, different brain states, and somatosensory representations. Finally, several pieces are dedicated
to modeling cognitive processes including learning, memory, and social interaction.
Each Perspective provides an overview of the particular topic, with the aim of illustrating not only what we know and where recent
advances have shed light, but also to highlight what we dont yet know and how theory could help to fill the gaps.
We hope that these articles will offer our audience insights into the strengths and challenges of current brain models and how these
theoretical frameworks can motivate experimental work to deepen our understanding of how the brain works. While not intended to
offer comprehensive coverage of all existing brain models, we hope that this collection provides a sense of the ongoing work
throughout the field.
We are indebted to the many authors and reviewers who thoughtfully contributed to this special issue, and we would like to
apologize to all whose exciting ideas we havent yet had the chance to cover. In keeping with Neurons philosophy of staying at
the forefront of the field, we invite you to submit your latest theoretically motivated studies. We hope that you will find the issue
interesting and inspiring.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.05.030

Neuron 94, June 7, 2017 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc. 933