An Investigation of Adaptive Behavior Towards a Theory of Neocortical Function

  • Hawkins J
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My interests are focused on the human neocortex. Specifically, I want to understand the neocortex from an information processing or theoretical perspective. I believe that major advances in our understanding of thought processes are possible and can be made with the knowledge and technology we possess today. When I talk to a stranger about a controversial topic, I start by asking some probing questions to reveal how much our views are in common. This helps me interpret and shape the ensuing conversation. The first section of this paper, titled "Approaches to Understanding Behavior", serves the same purpose. It is a quick way of revealing my opinions on several topics related to the study of human behavior. It has little direct relevance to the major ideas presented in the body of the paper and can be skipped altogether if desired. Reading it first, however, may be useful in interpreting the rest of the paper. The second and major section of the paper is titled "Towards a Theory of Neocortical Function". Here I present a proposal for a theory of the operation of the neocortex. Some of the ideas I present are well established and non-controversial; others are new and speculative. Together they form a cohesive picture of how the neocortex may operate. My goal is not to convince you that all these ideas are correct, but to illustrate my philosophy of how to understand and study the adaptation of behavior. I conclude the paper with a review of the major points of my thesis and a brief discussion of my plans for the future. 2




Hawkins, J. (1986). An Investigation of Adaptive Behavior Towards a Theory of Neocortical Function. Artificial Intelligence, 9(July), 75–94.

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