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Synthetic Neural Modeling Applied to a Real-World Artifact

Gerald M. Edelman, George N. Reeke, Jr., W. Einar Gall, Giulio Tononi, Douglas Williams and Olaf Sporns
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 89, No. 15 (Aug. 1, 1992), pp. 7267-7271
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2359973
Page Count: 5
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Synthetic Neural Modeling Applied to a Real-World Artifact
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Abstract

We describe the general design, operating principles, and performance of a neurally organized, multiply adaptive device (NOMAD) under control of a nervous system simulated in a computer. The complete system, Darwin IV, is the latest in a series of models based on the theory of neuronal group selection, which postulates that adaptive behavior is the result of selection in somatic time among synaptic populations. The simulated brain of Darwin IV includes visual and motor areas that are connected with NOMAD by telemetry. Under suitable conditions, Darwin IV can be trained to track a light moving in a random path. After such training, it can approach colored blocks and collect them to a home position. Following a series of contacts with such blocks, value signals received through a "snout" that senses conductivity allow it to sort these blocks on the basis of differences in color associated with differences in their conductivity. Darwin IV represents a new approach to synthetic neural modeling (SNM), a technique in which large-scale computer simulations are employed to analyze the interactions among the nervous system, the phenotype, and the environment of a designed organism as behavior develops. Darwin IV retains the advantages of SNM while avoiding the difficulties and pitfalls of attempting to simulate a rich environment in addition to a brain.

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