International Conference on Cognitive Modeling 2016

A small contingent of the CNRG presented their work at ICCM this year.

Peter Duggins gave a talk on the effects of drugs (Guanfacine and Phenylephrine) on a spiking neuron model of working memory. [Paper]

Terry Stewart coauthored a paper with Michael Vertolli on a spiking neural model of supervised learning for auditory localization in barn owls. [Paper]

Congratulations to Peter Duggins for winning the Allen Newell Award for best student-led paper!

Chris Eliasmith at TPL Cutting Edge

Chris recently paid a visit to the Toronto Public Library, where he talked about recent advances in modeling the connection between biology and cognition using the semantic pointer architecture, and Spaun in particular.

This was the inaugural lecture for the Krembil Foundation Cutting Edge series, focused on health and technology. Chris' talk, as well as the interview and audience questions, can be seen in full here.

How to Build a Brain: Now Softer and Cheaper

On June 1, 2015, nearly two years after its initial release, How to Build a Brain will be available in paperback for $40 (50 CAD). To celebrate, here are some of our favorite pieces of feedback we've received on the book, the research described in the book, and presentations we've given on that research.

My company's CEO told me about this book. I'm almost through my first reading, and it is...humbling. This book contains more information in fewer pages than any other book I have read on the subject. It's an academic text, but it is good if you are hard core enough to read it.

Sam Caldwell, HBB review on

The brain is a big thing, and including the whole thing in one book is probably somewhat optimistic... And it is certainly a sign of a good book that you want more, not less. A great read.

Simon Laub, HBB review on


Lee Yoon-Kyoung, HBB review on

Actually disgusting that the "eBook" is just a scrollable PDF. $60+ for this is just evil. The actual book is great.

Hannu, HBB review on

Whoah, that's some Ghost in the Shell shit right there.

Hiratana on Reddit

Nice fellow. Looks like some sort of druid wizard. Extremely intelligent and it does show. Decent lectures.

Anonymous review of Chris Eliasmith

Chris is the least evasive of the AI researchers I've seen in interviews.

zanyguitar, comment on Singularity 1 on 1 interview

He looks like Aaron Paul's hippie doppelganger

Kwlo Katastasi, comment on TedX talk

I love this guy

Lokazra, comment on TedX talk

Synthesizing Symbolicism and Connectionism

Paul Thagard, Professor of Philosophy at UWaterloo and fellow member of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, wrote a blog post calling the Semantic Pointer Architecture (SPA) a new synthesis in cognitive science, bringing together symbolicist and connectionist approaches. He writes:

As in connectionism, semantic pointers are patterns of firing in large neural populations, but Eliasmith has figured out how to make them also work like symbols in high-level reasoning. ... SPA provides a detailed, neurologically plausible, and mathematically rigorous account of how the dynamics of embodiment, embedding, and action work.

Read more at his blog post. Also check out more of Dr. Thagard's writing at Psychology Today!