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Neurocomputing 42 (2002) 197214 www.elsevier.com/locate/neucom

Summary: Neurocomputing 42 (2002) 197­214
Synaptic Darwinism and neocortical function
Paul R. Adams
, Kingsley J.A. Cox
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, College of Arts and Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook,
State University NewYork, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5230, USA
We propose that certain brain systems, such as those of neocortex, exploit a fusion of
ideas from neural networks and evolutionary computation, and that several previously puz-
zling features of thalamocortical circuitry and physiology can be understood as consequences
of this fusion. The starting point is a consideration of anatomical errors in the recently de-
scribed digital strengthening of synaptic connections, which are analogous to mutations. A
mathematical model of this process shows the equivalence of the intrinsic error rate and a
"correlation ratio" which re ects the spatial variation in the degree of synchrony of neural
˙ring. The correlation ratio plays a similar role to ˙tness ratios in genetic algorithms. It is
argued that a major trend in brain evolution has been decreases in the intrinsic error rate,
allowing increases in circuit complexity, but that biophysical limits to this trend have forced
the neocortex to adopt a virtual error-reduction strategy. This requires online measurement
of correlation ratios and control of the plasticity of the connections formed by individual


Source: Adams, Paul R. - Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, SUNY at Stony Brook


Collections: Biology and Medicine