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Publication Summary and Abstract

Gurney K.N. (2006), Neural networks for perceptual processing: from simulation tools to theories. , Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci , 362:339-353..

Neural networks are modelling tools that are, in principle, able to capture the input–output behaviour of arbitrary systems that may include the dynamics of animal populations or brain circuits. While a neural network model is useful if it captures phenomenologically the behaviour of the target system in this way, its utility is amplified if key mechanisms of the model can be discovered, and identified with those of the underlying system. In this review, we first describe, at a fairly high level with minimal mathematics, some of the tools used in constructing neural network models. We then go on to discuss the implications of network models for our understanding of the system they are supposed to describe, paying special attention to those models that deal with neural circuits and brain systems. We propose that neural nets are useful for brain modelling if they are viewed in a wider computational framework originally devised by Marr. Here, neural networks are viewed as an intermediate mechanistic abstraction between ‘algorithm’ and ‘implementation’, which can provide insights into biological neural representations and their putative supporting architectures.
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