[Comp-neuro] Re: Attractors, variability and noise

Brad Wyble bwyble at gmail.com
Fri Aug 15 14:58:59 CEST 2008

On Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 8:23 PM, james bower <bower at uthscsa.edu> wrote:

> I would rather personally gain insights from including a known feature of
> the brain in a model than randomly misplacing parenthesis -  :-)

The placement of the parenthesis was beneficial noise.  Noise is used by the
brain, QED.

> However, the general point is absolutely taken -- without something
> concrete and mathematical, you don't know what you know or what you don't
> know.  Further, unless you share your model with others (and I don't mean
> through paper publication), they don't know what you know, they know, or
> collectively you don't know either.
> Another problem with abstract models -- most of which are simple enough
> that you can write your own code.  Systems like Bard's XPP are absolutely
> essential to have some form of intercommunication -- and BTW,  what about
> misplaced parenthesis that go unrecognized?

One has to write scripts with Genesis or Neuron and typos may abound there
as well.

> Often when I talk to biologists about the need for modeling, they tell me
> that they don't yet know enough to build a model - truth is, you don't know
> how little you know until you start to build one (I may have already said
> that).

This is quite true, and I would say the same for psychologists.   Proving
that two effects are experimentally dissociable is often taken as evidence
that they are mediated by distinct systems/pathways/brain-regions, but
modelling will show that one system can readily account for both.  We as
people overestimate our ability to reason our way through a complex

> For sure I have said before (several times in several different ways) that
> a model should NEVER be principally designed to prove to people you are
> right (smart, sophisticated, or etc).  Unfortunately, many are.

Indeed.  To me, proving that one's model can explain the data is the
starting point of an iterative back and forth with experimentalists.

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