Nick talks to neuroscientist and writer Dr. Erik Hoel. Erik is a professor of biology at Tufts University. He received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied under the sleep and consciousness researcher, Giulio Tononi. He did postdoctoral work at Columbia University, where he used information theory and other analytical tools to explore the biological basis of consciousness. He has come up with the so-called Overfitted Brain Hypothesis of dreaming, which explains the potential adaptive function of dreams by drawing analogies to techniques used to train Deep Neural Networks in the world of machine learning.
Erik and Nick discuss the biology and phenomenology of dreams and sleep generally, including some of the various theories for why we sleep. They also discuss Deep Learning (on a very basic level) and Erik described the Overfitted Brain Hypothesis of dreaming. They also discuss fiction and the arts, including Erik’s new novel and the potential evolutionary reasons for why humans create and consume fiction, as well as some technology-driven developments that are reshaping how we create and consume written work online.
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