It is well known that neural responses in many brain regions are organized in characteristic spatial patterns referred to as brain maps. It is likely that these patterns in some way reflect aspects of the neural computations being performed, but to date there are no general guiding principles for relating the structure of a brain map to the properties of the associated computation. In the field of parallel computing, maps similar to brain maps arise when computations are distributed across the multiple processors of a parallel computer. In this case, the relationship between maps and computations is well understood and general principles for optimally mapping computations onto parallel computers have been developed. In this paper we discuss how these principles may help illuminate the relationship between maps and computations in the nervous system.
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