[Comp-neuro] New Book about architectural constraints on neural systems

Andrew Coward andrew.coward at anu.edu.au
Thu Mar 2 03:27:00 CET 2006

(Apologies if you receive this announcement more than once)

A recently published book, “A System Architecture Approach to the  
Brain” (ISBN 1-59454-433-6), applies some developments in systems  
theory to demonstrate that modelling of higher cognitive processes in  
terms of neurophysiology requires some very specific architectural  

The book demonstrates theoretical arguments that any learning system  
that is subject to a range of practical considerations will be  
constrained within a set of general architectural bounds called the  
recommendation architecture. The theoretical arguments have been  
developed by analogy with the ways in which practical considerations  
constrain the architectures of extremely complex electronic control  
systems, although there is minimal direct resemblance between such  
architectures and those of learning systems.

The practical considerations are (1) the need to perform a large number  
of behavioural features with relatively limited physical resources for  
information recording, information processing and internal information  
communication; (2) the need to add and modify features without side  
effects on other features; (3) the need to protect the many different  
meanings of information generated by one part of the system and  
utilized for different purposes by each of a number of other parts of  
the system; (4) the need to maintain the association between results  
obtained by different parts of the system from a set of system inputs  
arriving at the same time; (5) the need to limit the volume of  
information required to specify the system construction process; (6)  
the need to limit the complexity of the construction process; and (7)  
the need to recover from construction errors and subsequent physical  
failures or damage.

The book describes the strong resemblances between the structures and  
processes predicted for a system within the recommendation architecture  
bounds and the physiological structures and cognitive processes of the  
mammal brain. The ways in which the recommendation architecture  
approach makes it possible to understand experimental results for a  
wide range of cognitive processes in terms of physiology are described.

L. Andrew Coward
Research Fellow
Department of Computer Science
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
andrew.coward at anu.edu.au

tel +61 02 6125 5694
mob +62 0431 529 197

Book Website:   

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