Rutgers University, Center for Cognitive Science
Memory and the Computational Brain
That the brain computes is now widely accepted in psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. However, it is also widely believed that the brain computes in some manner that is fundamentally different than the manner in which a computer computes, because the brain is thought to lack a read-write memory, which is an essential component of a conventional computing machine. Computation is fundamentally about the composition of functions. In this talk, based on a recent book coauthored with Adam KIng, I explain the simple considerations that necessitate a read-write memory in any device capable of composing functions of two-or-more variables whose values are specified at different times. I review examples of simple animal behaviors that require such composition (course setting, for example). I argue that these considerations imply that an addressable read-write memory mechanism must be at the heart of the brain’s computational capability.