A model of neocortex

Prompted by considerations about (i) the compositionality of cognitive functions, (ii) the physiology of individual cortical neurons, (iii) the role of accurately timed spike patterns in cortex, and (iv) the regulation of global cortical activity, we suggest that the dynamics of cortex on the 1-ms time scale may be described as the activation of circuits of the synfire-chain type (Abeles 1982, 1991). We suggest that the fundamental computational unit in cortex may be a wave-like spatio-temporal pattern of synfire type, and that the binding mechanism underlying compositionality in cognition may be the accurate synchronization of synfire waves that propagate simultaneously on distinct, weakly coupled, synfire chains. We propose that Hebbian synaptic plasticity may result in a superposition of synfire chains in cortical connectivity, whereby a given neuron participates in many distinct chains. We investigate the behaviour of a much-simplified model of cortical dynamics devised along these principles. Calcula...

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