InterJournal Complex Systems, 411
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [411]
Submission Date: 607
Revised On: 607
Fusing significance coding in cingulate cortex with frontal circuits generating cognitive sequences: Generalizing from a neurocomputational model...
Author(s): Marica Bernstein

Subject(s): CX.32

Category: Brief Article


Here I describe a biologically plausible neurocomputational mechanism for the integration of outputs from neural areas involved in coding motivational significance with those from areas generating short sequences of cognitive activity. Previously, we used a vector space interpretation of cognitive representation and neural activity to hypothesize a mechanism for some sequential processes (e.g., speech production, language apprehension, voluntary sensory attention). The primate saccade generating system was the biological system from which we generalized. The result was a generalized neurobiologically plausible computational model that accounts for how the brain generates a coherent sequence within the time limitations imposed by behavior. However, in that model we provided no neurobiological account for a feature of many sequential processes: internal "motivations" can contribute to determining the sequence of cognitive outputs irrespective of the surface properties of individual points in the sequence. Therefore, we expanded the existing model to include the effect of affect. We derived all of the properties and connectivities of this additional component of the model by examining anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). ACC filters sensory, multimodal and internal ("emotional") information, effectively coding for significance. ACC provides an interface between the decision-making processes of frontal cortex, the emotional functions of the limbic system, and the neural mechanisms generating cognitive sequences. Given ACC’s connectivities with, and effects on, brain regions subserving higher cognition, this component of the expanded model generalizes. Our model thus provides a neurocomputational mechanism for the fusing of affect with sequential processing. Given its biological plausibility it also points toward a neurophysiological explanation for this integration.

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