I am writing this posting to ask for those with neuroanatomical
expertise to help me identify the groups of neurons in my two-level theory
of learning. The groups of neurons and the means by which they can be
identified are as followed -
(Note -I use the term "neural pathway" to refer to paths in which information
flows from one neuron to another via synapses as a result of neurons firing or
not firing. This contrasts with information flow that occurs in a
non-localised manner, e.g. the emission, diffusion and reception of chemical
1) Group 1 are the neurons that receive and process perceptions.
2) Group 2 respond to rewards and punishments resulting from
satisfaction/non-satisfaction of biological needs by neutralising them. The
neurons are capable of learning to predict the occurrence of
rewards/punishments in which case they neutralise them as soon as they occur
and prevent them from having any effect on the Group 3 neurons.
Neutralisation occurs by emission of chemicals representing a
reward/punishment that is the opposite of that being neutralised. As a result,
non-occurrence of predicted reward/punishment will result in the occurrence of
an attemped neutralisation of the non-occurring reward/punishment which will
have a real effect on the learning of Group 3 neurons.
(In performing the predictions the Group 2 neurons would make use of
information provided via neural pathways from Group 1.)
3) The learning of Group 3 neurons is controlled by externally received
rewards/punishments adjusted by neutralisation by Group 2 neurons. The Group
3 neurons receive information via neural pathways from Group 1 and also
information about the actions or intended actions of Group 4 neurons. The
output of Group 3 neurons is to control the production of chemical messengers
that apply reward or punishment to Group 4 neurons.
4) The learning of Group 4 neurons is controlled by the rewards/punishments
applied by the Group 3 neurons. Group 4 neurons receive information via neural
pathways from Group 1, and their final output is to cause actual observable
behaviour, e.g. muscular movements.
Various extra information pathways do exist. The learning of Group 1 neurons
is self-controlled. But learning of Group 1 neurons is generally beneficial,
so it results in the production of raw external rewards as adjusted by Group 2
and applied to Group 3. Group 4 is also able to produce internal behaviours
whose sole purpose is to be perceived by Group 1 neurons, thus allowing
internal processing of information.
Extra clue: In the "blindsight" phenomenon, part of the neural pathway from
Group 1 to Group 3 is lost, so that a certain input is no longer available to
Group 3, but the equivalent pathway from Group 1 to Group 4 is not cut off,
so that the input continues to be available to Group 4.
Note that my theory is essentially a two-tier learning theory. External
rewards/punishments adjusted for expectation control the learning of Group 3
neurons, and Group 3 neurons produce rewards/punishments which control the
learning of Group 4 neurons which produce actual behaviour. The learning that
occurs in Group 3 occurs very slowly (it may take days, weeks or months for
even extreme rewards or punishments to have an observable effect), whereas
learning in Group 4 can be quite rapid (observable learning can occur in
seconds or minutes).
Philip Dorrell Email: p at dorrell.demon.co.uk
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