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Taking a bite of a Granny Smith apple releases a torrent of sensory experiences—a tart tang on the tongue, a savory smell in the nose, a crisp crunch at the ear, a firm feel in the hand, and a chartreuse color at the eye. This bite also releases a torrent of neural activity in multiple areas of the brain. It is natural to ask: What is the relation between sensory experiences and neural activity? This question, in various forms, has perplexed philosophers for centuries. It now absorbs scientists in fields such as neuroscience, cognitive science, and computer science. All now agree that there are clear correlations between sensory experiences and neural activity. But, remarkably, there is no consensus on how to interpret these correlations: We ...

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