Monday, November 16, 2015

An architecture for learning language

  • Published: November 11, 2015
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140866


Communicative interactions involve a kind of procedural knowledge that is used by the human brain for processing verbal and nonverbal inputs and for language production. Although considerable work has been done on modeling human language abilities, it has been difficult to bring them together to a comprehensive tabula rasa system compatible with current knowledge of how verbal information is processed in the brain. This work presents a cognitive system, entirely based on a large-scale neural architecture, which was developed to shed light on the procedural knowledge involved in language elaboration. The main component of this system is the central executive, which is a supervising system that coordinates the other components of the working memory. In our model, the central executive is a neural network that takes as input the neural activation states of the short-term memory and yields as output mental actions, which control the flow of information among the working memory components through neural gating mechanisms. The proposed system is capable of learning to communicate through natural language starting from tabula rasa, without any a priori knowledge of the structure of phrases, meaning of words, role of the different classes of words, only by interacting with a human through a text-based interface, using an open-ended incremental learning process. It is able to learn nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns and other word classes, and to use them in expressive language. The model was validated on a corpus of 1587 input sentences, based on literature on early language assessment, at the level of about 4-years old child, and produced 521 output sentences, expressing a broad range of language processing functionalities.
H/t Dan Everett.

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