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Biological neurons are extremely complex cells whose morphology grows and changes in response to the external environment. Yet, artificial neural networks (ANNs) have represented neurons as simple computational devices. It has been evident for a long time that ANNs have learning abilities that are insignificant compared with some of the simplest biological brains. We argue that we understand enough neuroscience to create much more sophisticated models. In this paper, we report on our attempts to do this.We identify and evolve seven programs that together represents a neuron which grows post evolution into a complete 'neurological' system. The network that occurs by running the programs has a highly dynamic morphology in which neurons grow, and die, and neurite branches together with synaptic connections form and change. We have evaluated the capability of these networks for playing the game of checkers. Our method has no board evaluation function, no explicit learning rules and no human expertise at playing checkers is used. The learning abilities of these networks are encoded at a genetic level rather than at the phenotype level of neural connections.
Date of Conference: 18-21 May 2009