Randy Gallistel, Co-Director of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, gave a really interesting talk at Ohio State on Friday afternoon. Here are some of the key points.

1. While most (but not all) cognitive scientists and neuroscientists assume that the brain is computational in nature, very little is known about how the brain actually computes and stores information in memory (e.g., how does the brain encode and integrate spike trains at time 1 with spike trains at time 2?).

2. According to Gallistel, read/write memory is an essential element of computation. For example, many very well understood behaviors such as dead reckoning can easily be understood and modeled with a read/write memory system but are very difficult issues for neural nets with no read/write memory.

3. While some memories can be represented in the brain through long-term potentiation (LTP) and changes in synaptic connectivity, it is doubtful that such mechanism(s) can account for read/write memory. Rather, Gallistel argues that such a memory system probably lies at the molecular level.

The following link is an interview with Randy Gallistel where he discusses these issues and his book titled Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science will Transform Neuroscience. I highly recommend listening to this interview if you are interested in cognitive neuroscience and you are not familiar with Gallistel's position. Special thanks goes out to +Ginger Campbell for putting together such a great interview!
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