Guided by the Mountcastle organizational principle for the column as the basic neuronal network in the cortex, we developed the trion model. An essential feature of the model is that it is highly structured in time and in spatial connections. Simulations of a network of trions have shown that large numbers of quasi-stable, periodic spatial-temporal firing patterns can be excited. These patterns can be readily enhanced by only a small change in connection strengths, and the patterns evolve in certain natural sequences from one to another. With only somewhat different parameters than those used for studying memory and pattern recognition, much more flowing and intriguing patterns emerged from the simulations. The results were striking when these probabilistic evolutions were mapped onto pitches and instrument timbres to produce music: For example, different simple mappings of the same evolution give music having the "flavor" of a minuet, a waltz, certain folk music, or styles of specific periods of Western art music. A theme can be learned so that evolutions have this theme and its variations recur. We suggest that we have found a viable cortical model for the coding of certain aspects of musical structure in human composition and perception. Further, we propose that the trion model is relevant for examining creativity in those higher cognitive functions of mathematics and chess that are similar to music.


Braitenberg, V., & Braitenberg, C. Geometry of orientation columns in the visual cortex. Biological Cybernetics, 1979, 33, 179-186.
Brothers, L., & Shaw, G. L. The role of accurate timing in human performance and the code for higher cortical function. In R. Cotterill (Ed.), Models of brain function. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1989.
Cranberg, L. D., & Albert, M. L. The chess mind. In L. K. Obler & D. Fein (Eds.), The ex- ceptional brain. New York: Guiford, 1988.
Fisher, M. E., & Selke, W. Infinitely many commensurate phases in a simple Ising model. Physical Review Letters, 1980, 44, 1502-1505.
Hubel, D. H. & Wiesel, T. N. Functional architecture of macaque monkey visual cortex. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 1977, B198, 1-59.
Katz, B. The release of neural transmitter substances. Springfield: Thomas, 1969.
Little, W. A. Existence of persistent states in the brain. Mathematical Biosctences, 1974, 19, 101-120.
Little, W. A., & Shaw, G. L. Analytic study of the storage capacity of a neural network. Mathematical Biosciences, 1978, 39, 281-290.
McGrann, J. V., Shaw, G. L., & Shenoy, K. V. Recognition of rotated object in the trion model of cortical organization. Abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Psychology, 1989.
Mountcastle, V. B. An organizing principle for cerebral function: the unit module and the distributed system. In G. M. Edelman & V. B. Mountcastle (Eds.), The mindful brain. Cambridge: MIT, 1978.
Shaw, G. L., Silverman, D. J., & Pearson, J. C. Model of cortical organization embodying a basis for a theory of information processing and memory recall. Proceedings of the Na- tional Academy of Sciences USA, 1985, 82,2364-2368.
Shaw, G. L., Silverman, D. J., & Pearson, J. C. Trion model of cortical organization and the search for the code of short-term memory and of information processing. In J. Levy and J. C. S. Delacour (Eds.), Systems with learning and memory abilities. New York: Else- vier, 1988.
Shaw, G. L., & Vasudevan, R. Persistent states of neural networks and the random nature of synaptic transmission. Mathematical Biosciences, 1974, 21, 207-218.
Silverman, D. J., Shaw, G. L., & Pearson, J. C. Associative recall properties of the trion model of cortical organization. Biological Cybernetics, 1986, 53, 259-271.
Steiner, G. The sporting scene: White knights of Reykjavik. London: Farber and Farber, 1973.
Trehub, S. A. Infants' perception of music patterns. Perception and Psychophysics, 1987, 41,635-641.
This content is only available via PDF.