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Have We Missed Half of What the Neocortex Does? Allocentric Location as the Basis of Perception

Jeff HawkinsJeff HawkinsCo-founder

This video was recorded on December 15, 2017 at the MIT Center for Brains, Minds + Machines as part of their Brains, Minds and Machines Seminar Series.



In this talk, Jeff describes a theory that sensory regions of the neocortex process two inputs. One input is the well-known sensory data arriving via thalamic relay cells. We propose the second input is a representation of allocentric location. The allocentric location represents where the sensed feature is relative to the object being sensed, in an object-centric reference frame. As the sensors move, cortical columns learn complete models of objects by integrating sensory features and location representations over time. Lateral projections allow columns to rapidly reach a consensus of what object is being sensed. We propose that the representation of allocentric location is derived locally, in layer 6 of each column, using the same tiling principles as grid cells in the entorhinal cortex. Because individual cortical columns are able to model complete complex objects, cortical regions are far more powerful than currently believed. The inclusion of allocentric location offers the possibility of rapid progress in understanding the function of numerous aspects of cortical anatomy.

Jeff discusses material from these two papers. Others can be found at

A Theory of How Columns in the Neocortex Enable Learning the Structure of the World

Why Neurons Have Thousands of Synapses, A Theory of Sequence Memory in the Neocortex

Jeff HawkinsJeff HawkinsCo-founder