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The Recommendation Architecture: Lessons from Large-Scale Electronic Systems Applied to Cognition

By l andrew coward


A fundamental approach of cognitive science is to understand cognitive systems by separating them into modules. Theoretical reasons are described which force any system which learns to perform a complex combination of real time functions into a modular architecture. Constraints on the way modules divide up functionality are also described. The architecture of such systems, including biological systems, is constrained into a form called the recommendation architecture, with a primary separation between clustering and competition. Clustering is a modular hierarchy which manages the interactions between functions on the basis of detection of functionally ambiguous repetition. Change to previously detected repetitions is limited in order to maintain a meaningful, although partially ambiguous context for all modules which make use of the previously defined repetitions. Competition interprets the repetition conditions detected by clustering as a range of alternative behavioural recommendations, and uses consequence feedback to learn to select the most appropriate recommendation. The requirements imposed by functional complexity result in very specific structures and processes which resemble those of brains. The design of an implemented electronic version of the recommendation architecture is described, and it is demonstrated that the system can heuristically define its own functionality, and learn without disrupting earlier learning. The recommendation architecture is compared with a range of alternative cognitive architectural proposals, and the conclusion reached that it has substantial potential both for understanding brains and for designing systems to perform cognitive functions

Topics: Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Physiological Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1016/s1389-0417(01)00024-9
OAI identifier:

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