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The Brain Doesn’t Work Like the Internet January 11, 2007

Posted by Johan in Connectionism.
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In popular science articles, connectionist models are often introduced with the internet analogy – a bunch of nodes that collectively produce output, where some nodes have more connections, and thus more influence on the output, than others. The linked article is just one example of this.

Of course, they are completely wrong. In fact, the brain works like the blogosphere. You see, the problem with the internet analogy is that at each node is an entity that is generally capable of making far more complex things of input than simply excitatory or inhibitory output.

Not so with the blogosphere. Think of each blog as a node. Think of each blogger’s RSS aggregator as the sum of excitatory connections (granted, the model fails to account for inhibitory connections). When enough of the other bloggers (nodes) copy/paste a news story into their blog (i.e., fire), the sum of the collected blogging (input) reaches a treshold, and the blogger posts the same story. Thus, every other blogger that happened to be connected to our original blogger receives input, and we achieve spreading activation.

On second thought, the lack of inhibition is not a problem of the model – it is a problem of the blogosphere.

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