Yes, Brains do reconfigure themselves, Virginia

Developing Intelligence : A Neural FPGA? Dynamic Task-Relevant Code in Prefrontal Cortex:

How does the brain exert flexible control over behavior? One idea is that high-level areas of the brain self-organize representations that lead to reward in a certain task, in a sense by “programming” or “executing” a pattern of activity that controls activity in more posterior and domain-specific regions (i.e., sensory or motor cortex). This portrays prefrontal cortex as a kind of field-programmable gate array, which can be dynamically reconfigured on the basis of dopaminergic reward signals, so as to perform different computations at will.

Concrete evidence for this view is provided by Hasegawa et al. in their recent article on the activity recorded from 310 neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices of 2 rhesus monkeys while they performed a surprisingly difficult task.

This seems like very nice work; it does seem a little surprising that it wasn’t done 10-15 years ago.


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