Living organisms have either innate or acquired mechanisms for reacting to percepts with an appropriate behavior e.g., by escaping from the source of a perception detected as threat, or conversely by approaching a target perceived as potential food. In the case of artifacts, such capabilities must be built in through either wired connections or software. The problem addressed here is to define a neural basis for such behaviors to be possibly learned by bio-inspired artifacts. Toward this end, a thought experiment involving an autonomous vehicle is first simulated as a random search. The stochastic decision tree that drives this behavior is then transformed into a plastic neuronal circuit. This leads the vehicle to adopt a deterministic behavior by learning and applying a causality rule just as a conscious human driver would do. From there, a principle of using synchronized multimodal perceptions in association with the Hebb principle of wiring together neuronal cells is induced. This overall framework is implemented as a virtual machine i.e., a concept widely used in software engineering. It is argued that such an interface situated at a meso-scale level between abstracted micro-circuits representing synaptic plasticity, on one hand, and that of the emergence of behaviors, on the other, allows for a strict delineation of successive levels of complexity. More specifically, isolating levels allows for simulating yet unknown processes of cognition independently of their underlying neurological grounding.
Keywords: behavioral learning; developmental cognition; neural circuit; synchronized perceptions; virtual machine.
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