The University of Sussex

Computational Neuroethology: a provisional manifesto

D.T. Cliff

This paper questions approaches to computational modelling of neural mechanisms underlying behaviour. It examines "simplifying" (connectionist) models used in computational neuroscience and concludes that, unless embedded within a sensorimotor system, they are meaningless. The implication is that future models should be situated within closed-environment simulation systems: output of the simulated nervous system is then expressed as observable behaviour. This approach is referred to as "computational neuroethology". Computational neuroethology offers a firmer grounding for the semantics of the model, eliminating subjectivity from the result-interpretation process. A number of more fundamental implications of the approach are also discussed, chief of which is that insect cognition should be studies in preference to mammalian cognition.

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