The neocortex is complex. It contains dozens of cell types, numerous layers, and intricate connectivity patterns. The connections between cells suggest a columnar flow of information across layers as well as a laminar flow within some layers. Fortunately, this complex circuitry is remarkably preserved in all regions. Vernon Mountcastle  was the first to propose that a canonical circuit consisting of cortical columns underlies everything the neocortex does. The way we see, feel, hear, move, and even do high level planning runs on the same circuitry.
If we can understand how a single cortical column works, we will have a framework for understanding how the entire neocortex works. Understanding the function of cortical columns is a central goal of our research program.
Under this proposal, cortical columns have far more powerful recognition and modeling capabilities than previously assumed. It is consistent with Mountcastle’s original idea, and the concept that if the neocortex is doing a function somewhere, it must be doing it everywhere. This idea also has large implications for how we think about biological and machine intelligence, a subject of our blog post, “The Thousand Brains Model of Intelligence.”
Cortical Columns Resources
- Does the neocortex use grid cell-like mechanisms to learn the structure of objects?
- Have We Missed Half of What the Neocortex Does? Allocentric Location as the Basis of Perception