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# The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati

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24 Jan 2018, 05:34
gmat4varun wrote:
Fifth question is something I am still not very clear . How Answer Option A is correct ?

5. From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
Computers operate by following algorithms.

In the first paragraph
Searle: computers fallows algorithms and cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content.
However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures.

In the second paragraph
The author refutes what Searle says, by pointing out that even the brains need to work like algorithms--interpret and transfer the information
Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking
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24 Jan 2018, 13:40
5/6 Correct.
Question 1: 0:39 (Correct)
Question 2: 1:08 (Correct)
Question 3: 0:47 (Correct)
Question 4: 0:30 (Inorrect)
Question 5: 1:03 (Correct)
Question 6: 0:47 (Correct)

Total Time: 6:57

Anyways ,can anyone tell me the difficulty level of this passage? I think it was a 500-600.
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24 Jan 2018, 14:00
Transcendentalist wrote:
Vercules wrote:
The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures. People, on the other hand, understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain.

Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. His argument proceeds thus: if a computer were used to simulate a stomach, with the stomach's churnings faithfully reproduced on a video screen, the machine would not be digesting real food. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think. Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

6) Which of the following most accurately represents Searle's criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor, as that criticism is described in the passage?
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

Spoiler: :: OA
B

Can someone help explain this one? I was stuck between A and E

A: The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable

In the passage Searle did not question the experimental authenticity of the metaphor. Hence Incorrect.

B. The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers

In the passage, the author states that Searle criticizes the metaphor because he thinks the brain powers cannot be simulated simply because it is complex and unique doe every being.

" Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures. People, on the other hand, understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain." The words 'meaning' and 'content' are the unique abilities of the brain considered to be important by Searle, therefore he thinks that 'Brain as a computer' is wrong because it would underestimate the abilities of the human brains by comparing it to something inferior. Hence 'B' is Correct.

C. The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.

Irrelevant and Searle makes no such comparison. Incorrect.

D. The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.

This might seem like a good option at first but look at the metaphor 'Brain as a computer'. The metaphor is not suggesting the capabilities of a computer but underestimating the capabilities of a human brain which is Searle's main concern. 'D' is the opposite of the metaphor. Hence Incorrect.

E. The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

This is the opposite of Searle's claim. In the last paragraph the author states "To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information" which means that Searle was of the view that brains do not work by processing information. Option 'E' states that Searle thought both computers and brains process information which is against the claim of Searle and the whole passage. Hence Incorrect.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati  [#permalink]

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25 May 2018, 12:07
yes3sir wrote:
5/6 Correct.
Question 1: 0:39 (Correct)
Question 2: 1:08 (Correct)
Question 3: 0:47 (Correct)
Question 4: 0:30 (Inorrect)
Question 5: 1:03 (Correct)
Question 6: 0:47 (Correct)

Total Time: 6:57

Anyways ,can anyone tell me the difficulty level of this passage? I think it was a 500-600.

Ya I think so. I found it pretty straightforward compared with other passages that were tagged 700-level. Perhaps what makes it easy is that it does not use complex words or jargon and topic is one which all people are familiar with. There are definitely passages which are much more convoluted than this one.
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30 May 2018, 02:05
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
5) From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
A) Computers operate by following algorithms.
B) The human brain can never fully understand its own functions.
C) The comparison of the brain to a machine is overly simplistic.
D) The most accurate models of physical processes are computer simulations.
E) Human thought and computer-simulated thought involve similar processes of representation.

The correct answer option for this question is A - as provided by various forums.
I was not able to find the clear reason to reject the answer choice E - in this passage, so need your help - how to reject E and select A?
In the passage, I can see the line "John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms," but where does the author agrees with this point?

Regards,
Akash

Hi,

I hope I can shed a light on the issue you have/had.

"John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers simply follow algorithms, <...>. <...> Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think."

From the above quoted sentences, I think it's reasonable to say that the second sentence is the one where the author 'nods' to Searl's idea. Computers and brains process information, simple as that. If the author thought that computers do not work the same way Searl thinks, he or she couldn't have countered the idea that computers and brain can equally perform the same thing. Thus the two can be deemed equivalent.

Perhaps this will help.
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09 Sep 2018, 06:43
GMATNinja wrote:
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.

hi GMATNinja hope you are having great weekend should we apply the above mentioned strategy to all RC passages ?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati  [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2019, 01:12
Quote:
4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to

(A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
(B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
(C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
(D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
(E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain

dear experts, your approach to Q4 is great healful.
i picked up E, because i the author says : it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think.

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati  [#permalink]

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10 Sep 2019, 23:14
Can someone please explain Question No. 4 ??
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16 Nov 2019, 23:06
Hello,

Can anyone describe how the answer to question 4 is B and not C ?
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29 Nov 2019, 06:59
Rumsus wrote:
Hello,

Can anyone describe how the answer to question 4 is B and not C ?

Mapping specific statements in the passage:
"Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle" - Author says that the brain works by breaking down the information, meaning and content, using specific steps = code. So, if we can decipher these steps, then we will be able to simulate the working of a brain using a computer. Then if this is the case, then why isn't the brain a machine. - Author is asking John Searle for explanation

"Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think. Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information"
- Similarly in this case, the author is strengthening the case of brain being a machine.

In short author provides numerous cases in which we can call a brain a machine. And every time he seeks explanation from Searle's argument to understand why he is not consider the brain a machine.

Thus, in short, the author seeks explanation and not examples.

Hope the explanation helps!
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19 Jan 2020, 00:24
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
Paragraph 2 refers to the author's point that he is clearly opposing Searle's point
A) propose an experiment
<detail - incorrect>
B) analyze a function
<detail - it doesn't cover the entire paragraph - incorrect >
C) refute an argument
<the 2nd paragraph clearly refutes Searle's point - correct>
< passage does more than explaining the contradiction - understatement - incorrect >
E) simulate a process
<detail - incorrect >

2) Which of the following is most consistent with Searle's reasoning as presented in the passage?
Searle's reasoning is presented throughout the passage, so we need to verify details of each of the answer options.
A) Meaning and content cannot be reduced to algorithms.
<line "Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking" proves this answer choice - correct >
B) The process of digestion can be simulated mechanically, but not on a computer.
<out of scope, as second half of the answer choice has not been mentioned - incorrect >
C) Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are essentially similar because they are composed primarily of information.
<reverse of what Searle claims - incorrect >
D) A computer can use "causal powers" similar to those of the human brain when processing information.
<reverse of choice A - incorrect >
E) Computer simulations of the world can achieve the complexity of the brain's representations of the world.
<reverse of choice A - incorrect >

3) The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about the simulation of organ functions?
Inference question type - we need to refer the para-2 and 3; we need to focus on the author's point not the S's point.
A) An artificial device that achieves the functions of the stomach could be considered a valid model of the stomach.
<line - "His argument proceeds thus: if a computer were used to simulate a stomach, with the stomach's churnings faithfully reproduced on a video screen, the machine would not be digesting real food." mentions the opposite view point of the author - hence inference is what this choice says - correct >
B) Computer simulations of the brain are best used to crack the brain's codes of meaning and content
<"best" is red flag; also there is no such correlation mentioned - incorrect >
C) Computer simulations of the brain challenge ideas that are fundamental to psychology and neuroscience.
<reverse of what the author says - incorrect>
D) Because the brain and the stomach both act as processors, they can best be simulated by mechanical devices.
<"best" is red flag; also there is no such correlation mentioned - incorrect >
E) The computer's limitations in simulating digestion suggest equal limitations in computer-simulated thinking.
<opposite of what the passage says - incorrect >

4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to
This inference question redirects us to go back to the area where author negates the Searle's point - "But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking;.................it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think."
A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
<no such flaw is referred; wrong connection between the points - incorrect>
B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
<"able to understand meaning -> is same as -> thinking" ; rewording of the idea mentioned into the passage - correct >
C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
<might be a true reason of the failure of the argument but it is not highlighted or referred as a flaw by the author in the passage - incorrect >
D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
<same reasons as for option C - incorrect >
E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain
<out of context - incorrect >

5) From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
A) Computers operate by following algorithms.
B) The human brain can never fully understand its own functions.
C) The comparison of the brain to a machine is overly simplistic.
D) The most accurate models of physical processes are computer simulations.
E) Human thought and computer-simulated thought involve similar processes of representation.

The correct answer option for this question is A - as provided by various forums.
I was not able to find the clear reason to reject the answer choice E - in this passage, so need your help - how to reject E and select A?
In the passage, I can see the line "John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms," but where does the author agrees with this point?

-> I had same question and found it. Answer E is not correct since Searle did not think that human and compuarter simulated thought involve similar process. It is Author's point not Searle's. Thus couldn't be agreeded point.
6) Which of the following most accurately represents Searle's criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor, as that criticism is described in the passage?
Question type seems - "why does Searle think that brain is not a computer?" Answer seems directly quoted in the line "However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content."
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
<out of scope - incorrect >
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
<paraphrase of the line mentioned above - correct >
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
<two far distant points are being correlated un-necessarily - incorrect >
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
<too much misaligned ; far-fetched inference - incorrect >
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.
<not even related to what question asks - incorrect >

What do you say about the reasons that I have mentioned to reject answer options? And do you see a pattern of wrong answer options anywhere - please let me know.

Regards,
Akash
Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulati   [#permalink] 19 Jan 2020, 00:24

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