NetLogo banner

 Contact Us

 Modeling Commons

 User Manuals:


NetLogo User Community Models

(back to the NetLogo User Community Models)

Learning and Creativity

by Derek A. Rush (Submitted: 11/28/2006)

[screen shot]

Download Learning and Creativity
If clicking does not initiate a download, try right clicking or control clicking and choosing "Save" or "Download".

(You can also run this model in your browser, but we don't recommend it; details here.)


This model is a representation of the occurence of learning and creativity for a very simple, hypothetical creature. The creature is motivated by an urge that has to be satisfied and it is helped by learning from received inputs. Making this model and reviewing the probable origins of a creature's neurobiology has suggested a direction in which it may have been extended for larger brains (see Conclusions below).


Copying is fundamental to Evolution, to life itself and to the construction of creatures. Copying the actions of those who have survived thus far is a valuable inheritance and it is Evolution's formula for survival. Every creature, from birth, may be seen to be copying, in repeating its actions, in behaving similarly to its fellows or in copying from what it senses around it; also it is well established that seeing an action by a similar creature can excite the same action area in the brain of the watching creature.
Creatures make great use of copied patterns, examples are the stridulation calls of insects and the calls of birds. Nowhere is this illustrated better than in the habits, routines, records, fashions, languages, dialects and accents of human beings. It is therefore highly probable that the neurobiology of all creatures is founded on the copying and storing of patterns. A creature learns by receiving and memorising patterns from inputs. Memories are reinforced by frequent access but become faint with lack of use.


Creatures are subject to urges, generated by the creature's brain/body chemistry and directed at maintaining or improving its condition. There is a primary urge to survive, including an urge to satisfy hunger and hunger has been used in this model to set the level of emotion and thereby the motivation to find food.


Creativity involves associating patterns and parts of patterns, sometimes perhaps by shuffling, until a new pattern satisfies the condition that is motivating the activity. However it may be creativity only in the place and time of this particular creature, in other places and times it may already be known. Creativity seeds can be part of a memory retained for some other purpose and discovered later during a search for associations.
In the model it is the acceptance of a new taste and the repetition of the experience that values the action as creative. Similarly, for humans, a composer of music who discovers a new combination of notes which continues to give satisfaction, may be judged creative by those enjoying the music.


The model uses a randomly generated terrain with areas of:
...... no food: labelled 0 and mostly dark coloured or black
...... bad food: labelled 9 and mostly light coloured or white
...... good foods: labelled 1,2 and 3, green coloured and eaten by creature "thing"
...... good foods: labelled 6,7 and 8, green coloured and eaten by creature "thingy"

The creature monitored is the monster "thing", coloured brown and eating foods 123, who learns by observing the feeding by "thingy", coloured grey and eating foods 789, who is a not-so-near related monster. They both have a "mouth" defined by neighbors3 and have dificulty seeing what they are eating. Creature "thing" has to be reasonably close to "thingy" to observe, to learn that foods 678 appear to be satisfying and to copy its feeding.
When "thing" discovers that foods 3 and 6 eaten together are much more satisfying than any of the other foods, it might be credited with having created a new food.
Emotion rises in "thing" as it becomes hungrier so it is motivated to forage more quickly; but when it begins to feel better satisfied by foods 678 and food 3&6, it slows down.
The model shows uncomplicated learning but with humans it could be for example, a maths procedure, copied and then by association used to calculate results from data both old and new.


It can be concluded:
...... that if some of a brain's performance comes from inherited patterns very much more will be learnt in a lifetime by copying;
...... that a Search Engine of some sort may be operating in brains almost continally, to select from the memory of inputs for the purpose of associations;
...... that the Engine should present its selection according to a number of different criteria rather than only according to the number of times accessed;
...... that for human beings with their very large brains plus the use of language, the Search Engine must have an extraordinary performance.
To examine these conclusions requires a further and very different model.


(Three previous relevant NetLogo Models by the author were

FR. 1 The Expression Of The Emotions In Man and Animals by Charles Darwin.1872.
FR. 2 The Living Brain by W.Grey Walter. Duckworth, London, 1953.
FR. 3 Mapping The Mind by Rita Carter. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1998.
FR. 4 Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 1996.
FR. 5 The Emotional Brain, Joseph LeDoux. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1998.
FR. 6 Phantoms In The Brain-Human Nature And The Architecture Of The Mind by
V.S.Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee. Fourth Estate, London 1998.
FR. 7 The Human Computer by Mark Jeffery. Little, Brown and Company, London, 1999.
FR. 8 Consciousness-How Matter Becomes Imagination by Gerald M. Edelman and G.Tononi.
Penguin London, 2000.(In the USA as A Universe of Consciousness. Perseus.)
FR. 9 How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker. Penguin, London.(Also in the USA,
W.W.Norton 1997)
FR.10 An Anatomy of Thought, The origin and machinery of the mind by Ian Glynn. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1999.
FR.11 Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins. Penguin Press Science, 1999.
FR.12 The Private Life Of The Brain by Susan Greenfield. Penguin, 2000.

Derek A Rush November 2006.

(back to the NetLogo User Community Models)