Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 169–179 | Cite as

A model for generalization and specification by single neurons

  • Paul W. Munro


A rule for environmentally dependent modification of the neuronal state is examined. Under the rule, the neuron selects a trigger feature that matches either a particular pattern in the stimulus set, or the most common pattern component, depending on a certain parameter. Thus a neuron may evolve to respond to its stimulus environment in one of two capacities, namely specification or generalization. Neurons of the former variety are labelled “S-cells”; and those of the latter, “G-cells”. In the model, synaptic modification is modulated by two postsynaptic mechanisms which act antagonistically to strengthen or weaken the synaptic connectivities. The functional dependence of these mechanisms on the postsynaptic activity is shown to determine whether the neuron acts as an S-cell or a G-cell. A circuit is proposed for a module that consists of a G-cell and several S-cells sharing a common set of inputs. By inhibiting the G-cells, the S-cell acts as a contrast-enhancing element, increasing their specificities for individual patterns in the stimulus set. The output from the module is a recoded representation of the environment with respect to its general and distinctive features.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul W. Munro
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Neural ScienceBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Cognitive Science C-015UCSDLa Jolla

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