Neural Autopoiesis: Organizing Self-Boundary by Stimulus Avoidance in Biological and Artificial Neural Networks

Living organisms must actively maintain themselves in order to continue existing. Autopoiesis is a key concept in the study of living organisms, where the boundaries of the organism is not static by dynamically regulated by the system itself... To study the autonomous regulation of self-boundary, we focus on neural homeodynamic responses to environmental changes using both biological and artificial neural networks. Previous studies showed that embodied cultured neural networks and spiking neural networks with spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) learn an action as they avoid stimulation from outside. In this paper, as a result of our experiments using embodied cultured neurons, we find that there is also a second property allowing the network to avoid stimulation: if the agent cannot learn an action to avoid the external stimuli, it tends to decrease the stimulus-evoked spikes, as if to ignore the uncontrollable-input. We also show such a behavior is reproduced by spiking neural networks with asymmetric STDP. We consider that these properties are regarded as autonomous regulation of self and non-self for the network, in which a controllable-neuron is regarded as self, and an uncontrollable-neuron is regarded as non-self. Finally, we introduce neural autopoiesis by proposing the principle of stimulus avoidance. read more

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