Publications / SAND Report

Modeling cortical circuits

Rothganger, Fredrick R.; Rohrer, Brandon R.; Verzi, Stephen J.; Xavier, Patrick G.

The neocortex is perhaps the highest region of the human brain, where audio and visual perception takes place along with many important cognitive functions. An important research goal is to describe the mechanisms implemented by the neocortex. There is an apparent regularity in the structure of the neocortex [Brodmann 1909, Mountcastle 1957] which may help simplify this task. The work reported here addresses the problem of how to describe the putative repeated units ('cortical circuits') in a manner that is easily understood and manipulated, with the long-term goal of developing a mathematical and algorithmic description of their function. The approach is to reduce each algorithm to an enhanced perceptron-like structure and describe its computation using difference equations. We organize this algorithmic processing into larger structures based on physiological observations, and implement key modeling concepts in software which runs on parallel computing hardware.