Imagination, AI and the Brain

What Underlies Imagination?

Call To Imagination — Jun 2024

Our ability to imagine and plan, and the training process of AI models

In this presentation, researcher Blake Richards discusses the fundamental role of imagination in human intelligence, planning, creation, and innovation. The speaker's lab studies the components of imagination, particularly focusing on the hippocampus, which is essential for both memory and imagination. The hippocampus creates cognitive maps—mental representations of the world—that anchor imagination to reality.

By training an AI agent to predict visual inputs in a simulated environment, the researchers observe the creation of cognitive maps within the AI, similar to those in animal brains. This research suggests that both human and AI imaginations emerge from predictive learning processes. AI models can help us understand human imagination, revealing that imagination might be a universal trait of predictive learning systems.