Foundations Of Cognitive Science


For well over half a century, neuroscientists have studied vision by mapping the receptive fields of individual neurons (Hubel & Wiesel, 1959; Lettvin, Maturana, McCulloch, & Pitts, 1959).  They do so with a method called microelectrode recording or wiretapping (Calvin & Ojemann, 1994), in which the responses of single neurons are measured while stimuli are being presented to an animal.  With this technique, it is possible to describe a neuron as being sensitive to a trigger feature, a specific pattern which, when detected, produces maximum activity in the cell.  Connectionist researchers also use wiretapping in an attempt to analyze the internal structure of their networks by identifying the stimulus patterns that produce maximum activity in hidden units (Dawson, 2004).


  1. Calvin, W. H., & Ojemann, G. A. (1994). Conversations With Neil's Brain. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  2. Dawson, M. R. W. (2004). Minds And Machines: Connectionism And Psychological Modeling. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
  3. Hubel, D. H., & Wiesel, T. N. (1959). Receptive fields of single neurones in the cat's striate cortex. Journal of physiology, 148, 574-591.
  4. Lettvin, J. Y., Maturana, H. R., McCulloch, W. S., & Pitts, W. H. (1959). What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain. Proceedings of the IRE, 47(11), 1940-1951.

(Added April 2011)