Anydomainofscientificresearchhasitssustainingorthodoxy. Thatis, research on a problem, whether in astronomy, physics, or biology, is con- ducted against a backdrop of broadly shared assumptions. It is these as- sumptionsthatguideinquiryandprovidethecanonofwhatisreasonable-- of what "makes sense." And it is these shared assumptions that constitute a framework for the interpretation of research results. Research on the problem of how we see is likewise sustained by broadly shared assump- tions, where the current orthodoxy embraces the very general idea that the business of the visual system is to (...) create a detailed replica of the visual world, and that it accomplishes its business via hierarchical organization and by operatingessentiallyindependently of other sensorymodalitiesas well as independently of previous learning, goals, motor planning, and motor execution. (shrink)
How do minds emerge from developing brains? According to the representational features of cortex are built from the dynamic interaction between neural growth mechanisms and environmentally derived neural activity. Contrary to popular selectionist models that emphasize regressive mechanisms, the neurobiological evidence suggests that this growth is a progressive increase in the representational properties of cortex. The interaction between the environment and neural growth results in a flexible type of learning: minimizes the need for prespecification in accordance with recent neurobiological evidence (...) that the developing cerebral cortex is largely free of domain-specific structure. Instead, the representational properties of cortex are built by the nature of the problem domain confronting it. This uniquely powerful and general learning strategy undermines the central assumption of classical learnability theory, that the learning properties of a system can be deduced from a fixed computational architecture. Neural constructivism suggests that the evolutionary emergence of neocortex in mammals is a progression toward more flexible representational structures, in contrast to the popular view of cortical evolution as an increase in innate, specialized circuits. Human cortical postnatal development is also more extensive and protracted than generally supposed, suggesting that cortex has evolved so as to maximize the capacity of environmental structure to shape its structure and function through constructive learning. (shrink)
Learning procedural skills involves improvement in speed and accuracy. Walker proposes two stages of memory consolidation: enhancement, which requires sleep, and stabilization, which does not require sleep. Speed improvement for a motor learning task but not accuracy occurs after sleep-dependent enhancement. We discuss this finding in the context of computational models and underlying sleep mechanisms.
Although working memory capacity and executive function contribute to human intelligence, we question whether there is an equivalence between them and fluid intelligence. We contend that any satisfactory neurobiological explanation of fluid intelligence needs to include abstraction as an important computational component of brain processing. (Published Online April 5 2006).