Neural Morphogenesis, Synaptic Plasticity, and Evolution
Morphology plays an important role in the computational properties of neural systems, affecting both their functionality and the way in which this functionality is developed during life. In computer-based models of neural networks, artificial evolution is often used as a method to explore the space of suitable morphologies. In this paper we critically review the most common methods used to evolve neural morphologies and argue that a more effective, and possibly biologically plausible, method consists of genetically encoding rules of synaptic plasticity along with rules of neural morphogenesis. Some preliminary experiments with autonomous robots are described in order to show the feasibility and advantages of the approach.