What the Neocortex Does

Sergio Navega snavega at attglobal.net
Tue Aug 1 17:35:02 EST 2000

Harry Erwin wrote in message <1eeoeeq.1l5du7o1hdv8vwN%herwin at gmu.edu>...
>I'm beginning to suspect a primary function of the neocortex is the
>maintenance of a non-symbolic, dynamic model of the environment. The
>evidence seems fairly strong that bats live mostly in such a model
>(Griffin, 1958), and the difficulty we have training bats to use
>symbolic representations (yes/no tokens) in communicating with us,
>suggests that their internal model is non-symbolic, possibly like the
>analog models used in some contexts like wind tunnels and floatation
>Harry Erwin, PhD, <mailto:herwin at gmu.edu>,Computational Neuroscientist
>(modeling bat behavior), Senior SW Analyst and Security Engineer, and
>Adjunct Professor of Computer Science, GMU. Looking--CV available at:

If you're modeling bat behavior, I think you should also consider
symbolic alternatives.

What? Are you saying that bats may have symbols in their brains?

Yes, I am. Symbols, in a broader definition, are not necessarily
discrete and precise elements. This arrow -> is a symbol for a
concept of flow or direction. But that very same symbol could
be written as ==>> or any other representation. What a bat may
have in its "mind" could be thought as a vague representation of
its world, but that is certainly symbolic: it is a neural pattern
of activations that *represent* an object or event in its world.
A symbol is an object that stands for another object.

Sergio Navega.

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