And neurons that were wired together in the past will fire together in the future. This extension of Hebb’s idea is the basis for our Experience Recorder and Reproducer (ERR).
The ERR is simpler than, but superior to, the computational models of the mind popular in today’s neuroscience and cognitive science, the “software in the brain hardware.”
Although we see mind as immaterial information, we think that man is not a machine and the mind is not a computer.
The biological and neurological basis for our proposed ERR is very straightforward.
- The ERR Recorder: Neurons become wired together (strengthening their synaptic connections to other neurons) during an organism’s experiences, across multiple sensory and limbic systems.
- The ERR Reproducer: Later firing of even a part of the previously wired neurons can stimulate firing of all or part of the original complex, thus “playing back” similar past experiences (including the critically important emotional reaction to those experiences).
Our ERR mind model grows out of the biological question of what sort of “mind” would provide the greatest survival value for the lowest (or the first) organisms that evolved mind-like capabilities.
We propose that a minimal primitive mind would need only to “play back” past experiences that resemble any part of current experience. Remembering past experiences has obvious relevance (survival value) for an organism. But beyond survival value, the ERR touches on the philosophical problem of “meaning.” We suggest the epistemological “meaning” of information perceived may be found in the past experiences that are reproduced by the ERR.
The ERR model is a memory model for long-term potentiation stored in the neocortical synapses. Short-term memory must have a much faster storage mechanism. While storage is slow, we shall see that ERR retrieval is just as fast, and it does not fade as does short-term, working memory.
We propose that the ERR reproduces the entire complex of the original sensations experienced, together with the emotional response to the original experience (pleasure, pain, fear, etc.). Playback of past experiences are stimulated by anything in the current experience that resembles something in the past experiences, in the five dimensions of the senses (sound, sight, touch, smell and taste).
The ERR model stands in contrast to the popular cognitive science or “computational” model of a mind as a digital computer with a “central processor” or even many “parallel processors.” No algorithms or stored programs are needed for the ERR model. There is nothing comparable to the addresses and data buses used to stored and retrieve information in a digital computer.