Brain and Values: Is a Biological Science of Values Possible

By Karl H. Pribram | Go to book overview

5
Virtual Associative Networks: A Framework for Cognitive Modeling
Yan M Yufik, Ph D Institute of Medical Cybernetics, Inc. Potomac MD 20854
Introduction

"What little understanding we have so far gained about the workings of the brain has come only after we had already understood a problem in the world that the brain has evolved to solve." R. N. Shepard, 1995, p 51.

The cognitive modeling proposal in this chapter is founded on a premise that the human brain solves the problem of satisfying some inborn values in a manner maximally efficient under the constraints changing in the course of the life cycle. Modeling such value satisfaction has many aspects, some of which are underscored in the following questions
1. Neuronal processes in the brain underlie intelligent performance. Since people outperform cats, are human neurons more intelligent than feline neuron?
2. What allows a chess player, capable of a few operations per second, to compete with a computer carrying over 108 operations per second (e.g., Kasparov vs. Deep Blue)?
3. As I am starting to write this article, I know precisely what points I am going to make but do not know how my argument will come out. Presently, there is no text in my memory that I can read from. In that case, what is it that I know, in what form does this knowledge exist, and how am I going to use it?

This introductory section will preview answers offered by the Virtual Associative Network (VAN) model, starting with the last question. Presently, I have a set of entities in my memory, such as words, concepts and images, that I hope to explicate and interrelate in the article. Some of the arguments have been structured before, others will be shaped for the first time and combined with earlier ones, depending on how the article unfolds.

My knowledge is a repertoire of resources allocated dynamically to satisfy my objectives. If my arguing points and/or their priorities change, the flow and the structure of the exposition will change too. If my computer breaks down and a few sentences are lost, I will not be able to reproduce them word-by-word in the new version. Fortunately, I will not have to if the resources in my memory remain accessible and my allocational ability does not fail. Resource Allocation (RA) is the central formalism in the VAN model, applied to define the organization of memory structures and operations that underlie performance. This leads to the second question.

Performance is negotiated between Short Term Memory (STM) and Long Term Memory (LTM). At this very moment, I am aware of only a few words that I am typing, and of

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