Chris Eliasmith, University of Waterloo, Canada

The weekly 'Issues in Cognitive Science' series provides an informal setting in which faculty, graduate students and invited speakers present their current research or plans for future research, and discuss recent journal articles of general interest to cognitive scientists. The 'catered brown bag' meetings take place every other Wednesday, 12-1:30pm, Sage 4101. Many of these presentations may be viewed in our video archiveGeneral information for speakers

Chris Eliasmith, University of Waterloo, Canada

Sage 4101

September 28, 2011 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Our lab has developed a method for constructing biologically realistic single cell models called the Neural Engineering Framework (NEF).

We have used the NEF to propose novel models that successfully capture single cell dynamics, tuning properties, and spike patterns.

Most of these models have been for small-scale neural systems (e.g. rodent path integration, working memory, the translational VOR, zebrafish motor control, etc.).  In this talk I describe how these same principles can be used to provide a useful approach to cognitive modelling, which we call the Semantic Pointer Architecture (SPA).  I demonstrate the approach with applications to the well-known Tower of Hanoi task (which demands planning, memory, and decision making), and the Raven's Progressive Matrices (a general intelligence test) if time permits. I argue that the SPA provides a principled way of bridging the gap between biological constraints and psychological constraints on cognition. In the course of presenting these models, I will demonstrate Nengo (, a neural modelling environment which can be used to simplify the construction and simulation of such models.


Neural representations of compositional structures

Neural cognitive Modelling

Add to calendar