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March 11, 1961

Design for a Brain

Author Affiliations

U. S. Army.

JAMA. 1961;175(10):927-928. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040100091036

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During the past 20 years, research in the behavioral sciences has become increasingly sophisticated. New findings concerning the brain and behavior have forced upon us the unpleasant necessity of reexamining our models. Concepts once useful, such as "the unconscious," "regression," and "motivation," no longer serve to adequately encompass the data. Ashby is a representative of this new order of sophistication in research, as he proceeds to investigate the problem of the brain's orderliness. He accepts, as fact, that the nervous system behaves adaptively and assumes that it is, in its essentials, mechanistic. These two data are approached as not irreconcilable.

From this point, he proceeds to examine dynamic systems from the standpoint of rigorous scientific —dominantly mathematical—logic until he has evolved a theoretical counterpart of brain functioning. He then builds and experiments with a prototype electronic model, which he names the "Homeostat," and tests various aspects of his theories of

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