The necessity of connection structures in neural models of variable binding

Frank van der Velde (Corresponding Author), Marc de Kamps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


In his review of neural binding problems, Feldman (Cogn Neurodyn 7:1–11, 2013) addressed two types of models as solutions of (novel) variable binding. The one type uses labels such as phase synchrony of activation. The other (‘connectivity based’) type uses dedicated connections structures to achieve novel variable binding. Feldman argued that label (synchrony) based models are the only possible candidates to handle novel variable binding, whereas connectivity based models lack the flexibility required for that. We argue and illustrate that Feldman’s analysis is incorrect. Contrary to his conclusion, connectivity based models are the only viable candidates for models of novel variable binding because they are the only type of models that can produce behavior. We will show that the label (synchrony) based models analyzed by Feldman are in fact examples of connectivity based models. Feldman’s analysis that novel variable binding can be achieved without existing connection structures seems to result from analyzing the binding problem in a wrong frame of reference, in particular in an outside instead of the required inside frame of reference. Connectivity based models can be models of novel variable binding when they possess a connection structure that resembles a small-world network, as found in the brain. We will illustrate binding with this type of model with episode binding and the binding of words, including novel words, in sentence structures
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-370
JournalCognitive neurodynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2015


  • Behavior
  • Frame of reference
  • Small-word networks
  • Novel variable binding


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