At the frontier between integrative and computational neuroscience, we propose to model the brain as a system of active memories in synergy and in interaction with the internal and external world and to simulate it as a whole and in situation.
In integrative and cognitive neuroscience (cf. § ), on the basis of current knowledge and experimental data, we develop models of the main cerebral structures, taking a specific care of the kind of mnemonic function they implement and of their interface with other cerebral and external structures. Then, in a systemic approach, we build the main behavioral loops involving these cerebral structures, connecting a wide spectrum of actions to various kinds of sensations. We observe at the behavioral level the properties emerging from the interaction between these loops.
We claim that this approach is particularly fruitful for investigating cerebral structures like the basal ganglia and the prefrontal cortex, difficult to comprehend today because of the rich and multimodal information flows they integrate. We expect to cope with the high complexity of such systems, inspired by behavioral and developmental sciences, explaining how behavioral loops gradually incorporate in the system various kinds of information and associated mnesic representations. As a consequence, the underlying cognitive architecture, emerging from the interplay between these sensations-actions loops, results from a mnemonic synergy.
In computational neuroscience (cf. § ), we concentrate on the efficiency of local mechanisms and on the effectiveness of the distributed computations at the level of the system. We also take care of the analysis of their dynamic properties, at different time scales. These fundamental properties are of high importance to allow the deployment of very large systems and their simulation in a framework of high performance computing (cf. § ). Running simulations at a large scale is particularly interesting to evaluate over a long period a consistent and relatively complete network of cerebral structures in realistic interaction with the external and internal world. We face this problem in the domain of autonomous robotics (cf. § ) and ensure a real autonomy by the design of an artificial physiology and convenient learning protocoles.
We are convinced that this original approach also permits to revisit and enrich algorithms and methodologies in machine learning (cf. § ) and in autonomous robotics (cf. § ), in addition to elaborate hypotheses to be tested in neuroscience and medicine, while offering to these latter domains a new ground of experimentation similar to their daily experimental studies.