A relatively detailed review (~ 4000 words) of Christopher Mole's (2010) book "Attention is CognitiveUnison". I suggest that Mole makes a good case against many types of reductivist accounts of attention, using the right kind of methodology. Yet, I argue that his adverbialist theory is not the best articulation of the crucial anti-reductivist insight. The distinction between adverbial and process-first phenomena he draws remains unclear, anti-reductivist process theories can escapte his arguments, and finally I provide an argument (...) for why no personal level adverbialism can provide a complete and unified theory of attention. Despite my disagreements, I have learned a lot from engaging with Mole's book. It's a central contribution to the new philosophical literature on attention. (shrink)
Highlights of a difficult history -- The preliminary identification of our topic -- Approaches -- Bradley's protest -- James's disjunctive theory -- The source of Bradley's dissatisfaction -- Behaviourism and after -- Heirs of Bradley in the twentieth century -- The underlying metaphysical issue -- Explanatory tactics -- The basic distinction -- Metaphysical categories and taxonomies -- Adverbialism, multiple realizability, and natural kinds -- Adverbialism and levels of explanation -- Taxonomies and supervenience relations -- Rejecting the process : first view (...) -- Supervenience-failure -- The modal commitments of the process : first view -- The interference argument : a putative problem for adverbialist accounts -- Cognitiveunison -- The problem with attitude based adverbialism -- Gilbert Ryle and Alan White -- White's argument against disposition-based adverbialism -- The cognitiveunison theory -- Tasks -- Cognitive processes -- Potential service of a task -- Superordinate tasks -- Some features of the theory -- Divided attention -- Degrees of attention and merely partial attention -- The causal life of attention -- Mental causation -- How to respond to mental causation objections -- The causal role of attention -- Attention as an enabling condition -- Counterfactuals -- The causal relevance of attention per se -- Counterfactuals and causally relevant properties -- Objections to counterfactual analysis of causation and of causal relevance -- The extrinsicness of unison -- The privative character of unison and the problem of absence causation -- Causal exclusion -- Consequences for cognitive psychology -- Psychology and metaphysics -- The metaphysical commitments of the process-identifying project -- The diverse explanatory construals of current psychological results -- Reasons for deflation -- Inductively unreliable properties -- Questions without answers -- The positive payoff -- Philosophical work for the theory of attention -- Putting attention to philosophical work -- Attention and reference -- Attention and consciousness -- Prospects for optimism. (shrink)
Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I call potentialism, (...) inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
This article clarifies three principles that should guide the development of any cognitive ontology. First, that an adequate cognitive ontology depends essentially on an adequate task ontology; second, that the goal of developing a cognitive ontology is independent of the goal of finding neural implementations of the processes referred to in the ontology; and third, that cognitive ontologies are neutral regarding the metaphysical relationship between cognitive and neural processes.
Cognitive systems research has predominantly been guided by the historical distinction between emotion and cognition, and has focused its efforts on modelling the “cognitive” aspects of behaviour. While this initially meant modelling only the control system of cognitive creatures, with the advent of “embodied” cognitive science this expanded to also modelling the interactions between the control system and the external environment. What did not seem to change with this embodiment revolution, however, was the attitude towards affect (...) and emotion in cognitive science. This paper argues that cognitive systems research is now beginning to integrate these aspects of natural cognitive systems into cognitive science proper, not in virtue of traditional “embodied cognitive science”, which focuses predominantly on the body’s gross morphology, but rather in virtue of research into the interoceptive, organismic basis of natural cognitive systems. (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitive science concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended from (...) the work of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible (...) theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitive science. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstract ideas in cognitive science has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
The past 25 years have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of cognitive control in the regulation of complex behavior. It now sits alongside attention, memory, language, and thinking as a distinct domain within cognitive psychology. At the same time it permeates each of these sibling domains. This introduction reviews recent work on cognitive control in an attempt to provide a context for the fundamental question addressed within this topic: Is cognitive control to be understood (...) as resulting from the interaction of multiple distinct control processes, or are the phenomena of cognitive control emergent? (shrink)
Philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists have recently taken renewed interest in cognitive penetration, in particular, in the cognitive penetration of perceptual experience. The question is whether cognitive states like belief influence perceptual experience in some important way. Since the possible phenomenon is an empirical one, the strategy for analysis has, predictably, proceeded as follows: define the phenomenon and then, definition in hand, interpret various psychological data. However, different theorists offer different and apparently inconsistent definitions. And (...) so in addition to the usual problems (e.g., definitions being challenged by counterexample), an important result is that different theorists apply their definitions and accordingly get conflicting answers to the question “Is this a genuine case of cognitive penetration?”. This hurdle to philosophical and scientific progress can be remedied, I argue, by returning attention to the alleged consequences of the possible phenomenon. There are three: theory-ladenness of perception in contexts of scientific theory choice, a threat to the general epistemic role of perception, and implications for mental architecture. Any attempt to characterize or define, and then empirically test for, cognitive penetration should be constrained by these consequences. This is a method for interpreting and acquiring experimental data in a way that is agreeable to both sides of the cognitive penetration debate. Put crudely, the question shifts to “Is this a cognitive-perceptual relation that results in (or constitutes) one or more of the relevant consequences?” In answering this question, relative to various data, it may turn out that there is no single unified phenomenon of cognitive penetration. But this should be no matter, since it is the consequences that are of central importance to philosophers and scientists alike. (shrink)
We discuss the development of cognitive neuroscience in terms of the tension between the greater sophistication in cognitive concepts and methods of the cognitive sciences and the increasing power of more standard biological approaches to understanding brain structure and function. There have been major technological developments in brain imaging and advances in simulation, but there have also been shifts in emphasis, with topics such as thinking, consciousness, and social cognition becoming fashionable within the brain sciences. The discipline (...) has great promise in terms of applications to mental health and education, provided it does not abandon the cognitive perspective and succumb to reductionism. (shrink)
Recent theories in cognitive science have begun to focus on the active role of organisms in shaping their own environment, and the role of these environmental resources for cognition. Approaches such as situated, embedded, ecological, distributed and particularly extended cognition look beyond ‘what is inside your head’ to the old Gibsonian question of ‘what your head is inside of’ and with which it forms a wider whole—its internal and external cognitive niche. Since these views have been treated as (...) a radical departure from the received view of cognition, their proponents have looked for support to similar extended views within (the philosophy of) biology, most notably the theory of niche construction. This paper argues that there is an even closer and more fruitful parallel with developmental systems theory and developmental niche construction. These ask not ‘what is inside the genes you inherited’, but ‘what the inherited genes are inside of’ and with which they form a wider whole—their internal and external ontogenetic niche, understood as the set of epigenetic, social, ecological, epistemic and symbolic legacies inherited by the organism as necessary developmental resources. To the cognizing agent, the epistemic niche presents itself not just as a partially self-engineered selective niche, as the niche construction paradigm will have it, but even more so as a partially self-engineered ontogenetic niche, a problem-solving resource and scaffold for individual development and learning. This move should be beneficial for coming to grips with our own (including cognitive) nature: what is most distinctive about humans is their developmentally plastic brains immersed into a well-engineered, cumulatively constructed cognitive–developmental niche. (shrink)
There is much good work for philosophers to do in cognitive science if they adopt the constructive attitude that prevails in science, work toward testable hypotheses, and take on the task of clarifying the relationship between the scientiﬁc concepts and the everyday concepts with which we conduct our moral lives.
Allen Newell (1973) once observed that psychology researchers were playing “twenty questions with nature,” carving up human cognition into hundreds of individual phenomena but shying away from the difficult task of integrating these phenomena with unifying theories. We argue that research on cognitive control has followed a similar path, and that the best approach toward unifying theories of cognitive control is that proposed by Newell, namely developing theories in computational cognitive architectures. Threaded cognition, a recent theory developed (...) within the ACT-R cognitive architecture, offers promise as a unifying theory of cognitive control that addresses multitasking phenomena for both laboratory and applied task domains. (shrink)
Theories concerning the structure, or format, of mental representation should (1) be formulated in mechanistic, rather than metaphorical terms; (2) do justice to several philosophical intuitions about mental representation; and (3) explain the human capacity to predict the consequences of worldly alterations (i.e., to think before we act). The hypothesis that thinking involves the application of syntax-sensitive inference rules to syntactically structured mental representations has been said to satisfy all three conditions. An alternative hypothesis is that thinking requires the construction (...) and manipulation of the cognitive equivalent of scale models. A reading of this hypothesis is provided that satisfies condition (1) and which, even though it may not fully satisfy condition (2), turns out (in light of the frame problem) to be the only known way to satisfy condition (3). (shrink)
Cognitive architectures are unified theories of cognition that take the form of computational formalisms. They support computational models that collectively account for large numbers of empirical regularities using small numbers of computational mechanisms. Empirical coverage and parsimony are the most prominent criteria by which architectures are designed and evaluated, but they are not the only ones. This paper considers three additional criteria that have been comparatively undertheorized. (a) Successful architectures possess subjective and intersubjective meaning, making cognition comprehensible to individual (...)cognitive scientists and organizing groups of like-minded cognitive scientists into genuine communities. (b) Successful architectures provide idioms that structure the design and interpretation of computational models. (c) Successful architectures are strange: They make provocative, often disturbing, and ultimately compelling claims about human information processing that demand evaluation. (shrink)
Understanding the role of ‘‘representations’’ in cognitive science is a fundamental problem facing the emerging framework of embodied, situated, dynamical cognition. To make progress, I follow the approach proposed by an influential representational skeptic, Randall Beer: building artificial agents capable of minimally cognitive behaviors and assessing whether their internal states can be considered to involve representations. Hence, I operationalize the concept of representing as ‘‘standing in,’’ and I look for representations in embodied agents involved in simple categorization tasks. (...) In a first experiment, no representation can be found, but the relevance of the task is undermined by the fact that agents with no internal states can reach high performance. A simple modification makes the task more “representationally hungry,” and in this case, agents’ internal states are found to qualify as representations. I conclude by discussing the benefits of reconciling the embodied-dynamical approach with the notion of representation. (shrink)
One of the central issues in linguistics is whether or not language should be considered a self-contained, autonomous formal system, essentially reducible to the syntactic algorithms of meaning construction (as Chomskyan grammar would have it), or a holistic-functional system serving the means of expressing pre-organized intentional contents and thus accessible with respect to features and structures pertaining to other cognitive subsystems or to human experience as such (as Cognitive Linguistics would have it). The latter claim depends critically on (...) the existence of principles governing the composition of semantic contents. Husserl''s fourth Logical Investigation is well known as a genuine precursor for Chomskyan grammar. However, I will establish the heterogeneous character of the Investigation and show that the whole first part of it is devoted to the exposition of a semantic combinatorial system cognate to the one elaborated within Cognitive Linguistics. I will thus show how theoretical results in linguistics may serve to corroborate and shed light on those parts of Husserl''s Fourth Investigation that have traditionally been dismissed as vague or simply ignored. (shrink)
Within the Givenness Hierarchy framework of Gundel, Hedberg, and Zacharski (1993), lexical items included in referring forms are assumed to conventionally encode two kinds of information: conceptual information about the speaker’s intended referent and procedural information about the assumed cognitive status of that referent in the mind of the addressee, the latter encoded by various determiners and pronouns. This article focuses on effects of underspecification of cognitive status, establishing that, although salience and accessibility play an important role in (...) reference processing, the Givenness Hierarchy itself is not a hierarchy of degrees of salience/accessibility, contrary to what has often been assumed. We thus show that the framework is able to account for a number of experimental results in the literature without making additional assumptions about form-specific constraints associated with different referring forms. (shrink)
Cognitive control refers to the regulation of mental activity to support flexible cognition across different domains. Cragg and Nation (2010) propose that the development of cognitive control in children parallels the development of language abilities, particularly inner speech. We suggest that children’s late development of cognitive control also mirrors their limited ability to revise misinterpretations of sentence meaning. Moreover, we argue that for certain tasks, a tradeoff between bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down (rule-based) thinking may actually benefit performance (...) in both children and adults. Specifically, we propose that a lack of cognitive control may promote important aspects of cognitive development, like language acquisition and creativity. (shrink)
Cognitive control is not only componential, but those components may interact in complicated ways in the service of cognitive control tasks. This complexity poses a challenge for developing an ontological description, because the mapping may not be direct between our task descriptions and true component differences reflected in indicators. To illustrate this point, I discuss two examples: (a) the relationship between adaptive gating and working memory and (b) the recent evidence for a control hierarchy. From these examples, I (...) argue that an ontological program must simultaneously seek to identify component processes and their interactions within a broader processing architecture. (shrink)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a core area of Cognitive Science, yet today few AI researchers attend the Cognitive Science Society meetings. This essay examines why, how AI has changed over the last 30 years, and some emerging areas of potential interest where AI and the Society can go together in the next 30 years, if they choose.
Cognitive control is easy to identify in its effects, but difficult to grasp conceptually. This creates somewhat of a puzzle: Is cognitive control a bona fide process or an epiphenomenon that merely exists in the mind of the observer? The topiCS special edition on cognitive control presents a broad set of perspectives on this issue and helps to clarify central conceptual and empirical challenges confronting the field. Our commentary provides a summary of and critical response to each (...) of the papers. (shrink)
Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitive science, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitive science with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different ﬁelds of cognitive science. Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, and how norms (...) should be established. These kinds of general and normative questions make philosophical reﬂection an important part of progress in cognitive science. Philosophy operates best, however, not with a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but rather with empirically informed reﬂection on a wide range of ﬁndings in cognitive science. (shrink)
Music can be described as sequences of events that are structured in pitch and time. Studying music processing provides insight into how complex event sequences are learned, perceived, and represented by the brain. Given the temporal nature of sound, expectations, structural integration, and cognitive sequencing are central in music perception (i.e., which sounds are most likely to come next and at what moment should they occur?). This paper focuses on similarities in music and language cognition research, showing that music (...) cognition research provides insight into the understanding of not only music processing but also language processing and the processing of other structured stimuli. The hypothesis of shared resources between music and language processing and of domain-general dynamic attention has motivated the development of research to test music as a means to stimulate sensory, cognitive, and motor processes. (shrink)
Diagrams are a form of spatial representation that supports reasoning and problem solving. Even when diagrams are external, not to mention when there are no external representations, problem solving often calls for internal representations, that is, representations in cognition, of diagrammatic elements and internal perceptions on them. General cognitive architectures—Soar and ACT-R, to name the most prominent—do not have representations and operations to support diagrammatic reasoning. In this article, we examine some requirements for such internal representations and processes in (...)cognitive architectures. We discuss the degree to which DRS, our earlier proposal for such an internal representation for diagrams, meets these requirements. In DRS, the diagrams are not raw images, but a composition of objects that can be individuated and thus symbolized, while, unlike traditional symbols, the referent of the symbol is an object that retains its perceptual essence, namely, its spatiality. This duality provides a way to resolve what anti-imagists thought was a contradiction in mental imagery: the compositionality of mental images that seemed to be unique to symbol systems, and their support of a perceptual experience of images and some types of perception on them. We briefly review the use of DRS to augment Soar and ACT-R with a diagrammatic representation component. We identify issues for further research. (shrink)
Cognitive architectures are theories of cognition that try to capture the essential representations and mechanisms that underlie cognition. Research in cognitive architectures has gradually moved from a focus on the functional capabilities of architectures to the ability to model the details of human behavior, and, more recently, brain activity. Although there are many different architectures, they share many identical or similar mechanisms, permitting possible future convergence. In judging the quality of a particular cognitive model, it is pertinent (...) to not just judge its fit to the experimental data but also its simplicity and ability to make predictions. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question whether we can conceive of music cognition in ecosemiotic terms. It claims that music knowledge must be generated as a tool for adaptation to the sonic world and calls forth a shift from a structural description of music as an artifact to a process-like approach to dealing with music. As listeners, we are observers who construct and organize our knowledge and bring with us our observational tools. What matters is not merely the sonic world in (...) its objective qualities, but the world as perceived. In order to make these claims operational we can rely on the ecological concept of coping with the sonic world and the cybernetic concepts of artificial and adaptive devices. Listeners, on this view, are able to change their semantic relations with the sonic world through functional adaptations at the level of sensing, acting and coordinating between action and perception. This allows us to understand music in functional terms of what it affords to us and not merely in terms of its acoustic qualities. There are, however, degrees of freedom and constraints which shape the semiotization of the sonic world. As such we must consider the role of event perception and cognitive economy: listeners do not perceive the acoustical environment in terms of phenomenological descriptions but as ecological events. (shrink)
Anthropology and the other cognitive science (CS) subdisciplines currently maintain a troubled relationship. With a debate in topiCS we aim at exploring the prospects for improving this relationship, and our introduction is intended as a catalyst for this debate. In order to encourage a frank sharing of perspectives, our comments will be deliberately provocative. Several challenges for a successful rapprochement are identified, encompassing the diverging paths that CS and anthropology have taken in the past, the degree of compatibility between (...) (1) CS and (2) anthropology with regard to methodology and (3) research strategies, (4) the importance of anthropology for CS, and (5) the need for disciplinary diversity. Given this set of challenges, a reconciliation seems unlikely to follow on the heels of good intentions alone. (shrink)
Cognitive anthropology contributes to cognitive science as a complement to cognitive psychology. The chief threat to its survival has not been rejection by other cognitive scientists but by other cultural anthropologists. It will remain a part of cognitive science as long as cognitive anthropologists research, teach, and publish.
During the last decades, the cognitive sciences and cognitive anthropology have increasingly veered away from each other. Cognitive anthropologists have become so rare within the cognitive sciences that Beller, Bender, and Medin (this issue) even propose a division of the cognitive sciences and cognitive anthropology. However, such a divorce might be premature. This commentary tries to illustrate the benefits that cognitive anthropologists have to offer, not despite, but because of their combination of humanistic (...) and scientific elements. It argues that the cognitive sciences (among others) profit from these benefits, as culture will become crucial for cognitive research. At the same time, problems within cognitive anthropology are discussed, including, for example, the responsibility of cognitive anthropologists to promote young academics. Finally, ideas are presented that might support future interdisciplinary collaboration. (shrink)
This conclusion of the debate on anthropology’s role in cognitive science provides some clarifications and an overview of emergent themes. It also lists, as cases of good practice, some examples of productive cross-disciplinary collaboration that evince a forward momentum in the relationship between anthropology and the other cognitive sciences.
Visual analytics is a new interdisciplinary field of study that calls for a more structured scientific approach to understanding the effects of interaction with complex graphical displays on human cognitive processes. Its primary goal is to support the design and evaluation of graphical information systems that better support cognitive processes in areas as diverse as scientific research and emergency management. The methodologies that make up this new field are as yet ill defined. This paper proposes a pathway for (...) development of visual analytics as a translational cognitive science that bridges fundamental research in human/computer cognitive systems and design and evaluation of information systems in situ. Achieving this goal will require the development of enhanced field methods for conceptual decomposition of human/computer cognitive systems that maps onto laboratory studies, and improved methods for conducting laboratory investigations that might better map onto real-world cognitive processes in technology-rich environments. (shrink)
The entropy-reduction hypothesis claims that the cognitive processing difficulty on a word in sentence context is determined by the word's effect on the uncertainty about the sentence. Here, this hypothesis is tested more thoroughly than has been done before, using a recurrent neural network for estimating entropy and self-paced reading for obtaining measures of cognitive processing load. Results show a positive relation between reading time on a word and the reduction in entropy due to processing that word, supporting (...) the entropy-reduction hypothesis. Although this effect is independent from the effect of word surprisal, we find no evidence that these two measures correspond to cognitively distinct processes. (shrink)
Computational modeling has long been one of the traditional pillars of cognitive science. Unfortunately, the computer models of cognition being developed today have not kept up with the enormous changes that have taken place in computer technology and, especially, in human-computer interfaces. For all intents and purposes, modeling is still done today as it was 25, or even 35, years ago. Everyone still programs in his or her own favorite programming language, source code is rarely made available, accessibility of (...) models to non-programming researchers is essentially non-existent, and even for other modelers, the profusion of source code in a multitude of programming languages, written without programming guidelines, makes it almost impossible to access, check, explore, re-use, or continue to develop. It is high time to change this situation, especially since the tools are now readily available to do so. We propose that the modeling community adopt three simple guidelines that would ensure that computational models would be accessible to the broad range of researchers in cognitive science. We further emphasize the pivotal role that journal editors must play in making computational models accessible to readers of their journals. (shrink)
In this commentary, I will argue that the componential and emergent views of cognitive control as defined by Cooper (2010) do not necessarily oppose each other, and I will try to make a case for their interdependence. First, I will use the construct of cognitive inhibition—one of the main componential control functions mentioned in the target articles—to illustrate my line of reasoning. Then, I will comment on how some of the target articles, each from a different perspective, bring (...) arguments in favor of this integrative view. (shrink)
Beller, Bender, and Medin should be congratulated for their generous attempt at expressive academic therapy for troubled interdisciplinary relationships. In this essay, I suggest that a negative answer to the central question (“Should anthropology be part of cognitive science?”) is not necessarily distressing, that in retrospect the breakup seems fairly predictable, and that disenchantment with the cognitive revolution is nothing new.
This paper reviews 30 years of progress in U.S. cognitive science research related to education and training, as seen from the perspective of a research manager who was personally involved in many of these developments.
Sketching is a powerful means of working out and communicating ideas. Sketch understanding involves a combination of visual, spatial, and conceptual knowledge and reasoning, which makes it both challenging to model and potentially illuminating for cognitive science. This paper describes CogSketch, an ongoing effort of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, which is being developed both as a research instrument for cognitive science and as a platform for sketch-based educational software. We describe the idea of open-domain sketch (...) understanding, the scientific hypotheses underlying CogSketch, and provide an overview of the models it employs, illustrated by simulation studies and ongoing experiments in creating sketch-based educational software. (shrink)
In this paper, I focus on a recent debate in extended cognition known as “cognitive assembly” and how cognitive assembly shares a certain kinship with the special composition question advanced in analytical metaphysics. Both the debate about cognitive assembly and the special composition question ask about the circumstances under which entities (broadly construed) compose or assemble another entity. The paper argues for two points. The first point is that insofar as the metaphysics of composition presupposes that composition (...) is a synchronic relation of dependence, then that presupposition is inconsistent with the temporal dynamics inherent in the process of cognitive assembly. The second point is that by developing a diachronic or temporally dynamic ontology for understanding the phenomenon of cognitive assembly, this lends support for a third wave of extended cognition. (shrink)
Complex problem solving is often an integration of perceptual processing and deliberate planning. But what balances these two processes, and how do novices differ from experts? We investigate the interplay between these two in the game of SET. This article investigates how people combine bottom-up visual processes and top-down planning to succeed in this game. Using combinatorial and mixed-effect regression analysis of eye-movement protocols and a cognitive model of a human player, we show that SET players deploy both bottom-up (...) and top-down processes in parallel to accomplish the same task. The combination of competition and cooperation of both types of processes is a major factor of success in the game. Finally, we explore strategies players use during the game. Our findings suggest that within-trial strategy shifts can occur without the need of explicit meta-cognitive control, but rather implicitly as a result of evolving memory activations. (shrink)
The evolution of the human brain has resulted in the emergence of higher-order cognitive abilities, such as reasoning, planning and social awareness. Although there has been a concomitant increase in brain size and complexity, and component diversification, we argue that RNA regulation of epigenetic processes, RNA editing, and the controlled mobilization of transposable elements have provided the major substrates for cognitive advance. We also suggest that these expanded capacities and flexibilities have led to the collateral emergence of psychiatric (...) fragilities and conditions. (shrink)
Recently, an associative learning account of cognitive control has been suggested (Verguts & Notebaert, 2009). In this so-called adaptation by binding theory, Hebbian learning of stimulus–stimulus and stimulus–response associations is assumed to drive the adaptation of human behavior. In this study, we evaluated the validity of the adaptation-by-binding account for the case of implicit learning of regularities within a stimulus set (i.e., the frequency of specific unit digit combinations in a two-digit number magnitude comparison task) and their association with (...) a particular response. Our data indicated that participants indeed learned these regularities and adapted their behavior accordingly. In particular, influences of cognitive control were even able to override the numerical distance effect—one of the most robust effects in numerical cognition research. Thus, the general cognitive processes involved in two-digit number magnitude comparison seem much more complex than previously assumed. Multi-digit number magnitude comparison may not be automatic and inflexible but influenced by processes of cognitive control being highly adaptive to stimulus set properties and task demands on multiple levels. (shrink)
Determining how we use our body to support cognition represents an important part of understanding the embodied and embedded nature of cognition. In the present investigation, we pursue this question in the context of a common perceptual task. Specifically, we report a series of experiments investigating head tilt (i.e., external normalization) as a strategy in letter naming and reading stimuli that are upright or rotated. We demonstrate that the frequency of this natural behavior is modulated by the cost of stimulus (...) rotation on performance. In addition, we demonstrate that external normalization can benefit performance. All of the results are consistent with the notion that external normalization represents a form of cognitive offloading and that effort is an important factor in the decision to adopt an internal or external strategy. (shrink)
Previous accounts of cognitive skill acquisition have demonstrated how procedural knowledge can be obtained and transformed over time into skilled task performance. This article focuses on a complementary aspect of skill acquisition, namely the integration and reuse of previously known component skills. The article posits that, in addition to mechanisms that proceduralize knowledge into more efficient forms, skill acquisition requires tight integration of newly acquired knowledge and previously learned knowledge. Skill acquisition also benefits from reuse of existing knowledge across (...) disparate task domains, relying on indexicals to reference and share necessary information across knowledge components. To demonstrate these ideas, the article proposes a computational model of skill acquisition from instructions focused on integration and reuse, and applies this model to account for behavior across seven task domains. (shrink)
Beller, Bender, and Medin (this issue) offer a provocative proposal outlining several reasons why anthropology and the rest of cognitive science might consider parting ways. Among those reasons, they suggest that separation might maintain the diversity needed to address larger problems facing humanity, and that the research strategies used across the disciplines are already so diverse as to be incommensurate. The present paper challenges the view that research strategies are incommensurate and offers a multimethod approach to cultural research that (...) can help to establish common ground while maintaining diversity. (shrink)
There is an argument that has recently been deployed in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly (or even exclusively) composed of cognitive modules; an argument that draws from some ideas and concepts of evolutionary and of developmental biology. In a nutshell, the argument concludes that a mind that is massively composed of cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular (henceforth, c-modular) is more evolvable than a mind that is not c-modular (or that is scarcely c-modular), since a (...)cognitive mechanism that is c-modular is likely to be biologically modular (henceforth, b-modular), and b-modular characters are more evolvable (e.g., Sperber 2002, Carruthers 2005). In evolutionary biology, the evolvability of a character in an organism is understood as the “organism’s capacity to facilitate the generation of non-lethal selectable phenotypic variation from random mutation” with respect to that character. Here I will argue that the notion of cognitive modularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence; that is, it will have to be understood in such a way that a cognitive feature is c-modular only if few or no other morphological changes (cognitive and not) are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population. I will also argue that all –except for (possibly) one—of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of cognitive modularity widely accepted in some of the mainstream currents of thought in classical cognitive science, are simply irrelevant to the argument. In order to argue for this, I will have to examine the question as to whether there are any strong theoretical connections between (1) those connotations and (2) notions of modularity accepted in biology, specially in evolutionary and in developmental biology, that are thought to be most relevant to arguments to the effect that biological modularity enhances evolvability. (shrink)
William James described the stream of thought as having two components: (1) a nucleus of highly conscious, often perceptual material; and (2) a fringe of dimly felt contextual information that controls the entry of information into the nucleus and guides the progression of internally directed thought. Here I examine the neural and cognitive correlates of this phenomenology. A survey of the cognitive neuroscience literature suggests that the nucleus corresponds to a dynamic global buffer formed by interactions between different (...) regions of the brain, while the fringe corresponds to a set of mechanisms in the frontal and medial temporal lobes that control the contents of this global buffer. A consequence of this account is that there might be conscious imagistic representations that are not part of the nucleus. I argue that phenomenology can be linked to psychology and neuroscience and a meaningful way that illuminates both. (shrink)