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ERIC Number: EJ1089121
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 49
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
Multiscale Modeling of Gene-Behavior Associations in an Artificial Neural Network Model of Cognitive Development
Thomas, Michael S. C.; Forrester, Neil A.; Ronald, Angelica
Cognitive Science, v40 n1 p51-99 Jan 2016
In the multidisciplinary field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, statistical associations between levels of description play an increasingly important role. One example of such associations is the observation of correlations between relatively common gene variants and individual differences in behavior. It is perhaps surprising that such associations can be detected despite the remoteness of these levels of description, and the fact that behavior is the outcome of an extended developmental process involving interaction of the whole organism with a variable environment. Given that they have been detected, how do such associations inform cognitive-level theories? To investigate this question, we employed a multiscale computational model of development, using a sample domain drawn from the field of language acquisition. The model comprised an artificial neural network model of past-tense acquisition trained using the backpropagation learning algorithm, extended to incorporate population modeling and genetic algorithms. It included five levels of description--four internal: "genetic", "network", "neurocomputation", "behavior"; and one external: "environment". Since the mechanistic assumptions of the model were known and its operation was relatively transparent, we could evaluate whether cross-level associations gave an accurate picture of causal processes. We established that associations could be detected between artificial genes and behavioral variation, even under polygenic assumptions of a many-to-one relationship between genes and neurocomputational parameters, and when an experience-dependent developmental process interceded between the action of genes and the emergence of behavior. We evaluated these associations with respect to their specificity (to different behaviors, to function vs. structure), to their developmental stability, and to their replicability, as well as considering issues of missing heritability and gene-environment interactions. We argue that gene-behavior associations can inform cognitive theory with respect to "effect size", "specificity", and "timing". The model demonstrates a means by which researchers can undertake multiscale modeling with respect to cognition and develop highly specific and complex hypotheses across multiple levels of description.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A