Another bad day for atheists

The American Association for the Advancement of Science website reports:

The primate brain is ‘pre-adapted’ to face potentially any situation

Scientists have shown how the brain anticipates all of the new situations that it may encounter in a lifetime by creating a special kind of neural network that is “pre-adapted” to face any eventuality. This emerges from a new neuroscience study published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Enel et al at the INSERM in France investigate one of the most noteworthy properties of primate behavior, its diversity and adaptability. Human and non-human primates can learn an astonishing variety of novel behaviors that could not have been directly anticipated by evolution — we now understand that this ability to cope with new situations is due to the “pre-adapted” nature of the primate brain.

This study shows that this seemingly miraculous pre-adaptation comes from connections between neurons that form recurrent loops where inputs can rebound and mix in the network, like waves in a pond, thus called “reservoir” computing. This mix of the inputs allows a potentially universal representation of combinations of the inputs that can then be used to learn the right behaviour for a new situation.

The authors demonstrate this by training a reservoir network to perform a novel problem solving task. They then compared the activity of neurons in the model with activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of a research primate that was trained to perform the same task. Remarkably, there were striking similarities in the activation of neurons in both the reservoir model and the primate.

This breakthrough shows that we have taken big step towards understanding the local recurrent connectivity in the brain that prepares primates to face unlimited situations. This research shows that by allowing essentially unlimited combinations of internal representations in the network of the brain, one of them is always on hand for the given situation.

Categories: Atheism, God, Science

2 replies

  1. A bad day for atheism indeed. As the authors of the study put it:

    “The results reported in this work are proposed as a proof of concept of the reservoir computing (RC) paradigm as a model of representational and dynamical properties of local generic prefrontal cortical networks in a cognitive task. Strong local recurrence is a striking property of the cortex, and constitutes the main architectural feature modeled by a reservoir. Here we demonstrated that an RC architecture can perform a complex cognitive task, and that certain characteristic electrophysiological features and dynamical patterns of activity of dACC neurons were replicated. We argue that the similarities in activity patterns between the dACC and RC model are the result of their common recurrent architecture, emphasizing its role in information representation schemes in the PFC. While mere random recurrent connectivity has been shown to provide universal spatio-temporal processing capabilities to RC networks [9], their distributed mixed-selectivity representations may need to be strengthened and their inherent fading memory may restrict their processing capabilities in time. In this context, the role of task-learning might be to reinforce already present weak yet relevant signals, and to robustly extend the time-limited influence of previous state through time via input driven attractors [17, 20].”

    Reservoir Computing Properties of Neural Dynamics in Prefrontal Cortex


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