van der Velde & de Kamps argue for the importance of considering the binding problem in accounts of human mental representation. However, their proposed solution fails as a complete account because it represents the bindings between roles and their fillers through associations (or connections). In addition, many criticisms leveled by the authors towards synchrony-based bindings models do not hold.
Blair argues that fluid cognition is dissociable from general intelligence. We suggest that a more complete understanding of this dissociation requires development of specific process models of the mechanisms underlying fluid cognition. Recent evidence indicates that relational integration and inhibitory control, both dependent on prefrontal cortex, are key component processes in tasks that require fluid cognition. (Published Online April 5 2006).
Reasoning requires making inferences based on information gleaned from a set of relations. The relational complexity of a problem increases with the number of relations that must be considered simultaneously to make a correct inference. Previous work (Viskontas, Morrison, Holyoak, Hummel, & Knowlton, 2004) has shown that older adults have difficulty integrating multiple relations during analogical reasoning, especially when required to inhibit irrelevant information. We report two experiments that examined the ability to integrate multiple relations in younger, middle-aged, and older (...) adults performing two other reasoning tasks. These tasks systematically varied relational complexity, and required either inductive reasoning (a version of the Raven's Matrices Task) or transitive inference. Our results show that as people age they have increasing difficulty in solving problems that require them to integrate multiple relations. This difficulty may stem from a decrease in working memory capacity. (shrink)
Theories of analogical reasoning have viewed relational structure as the dominant determinant of analogical mapping and inference, while assigning lesser importance to similarity between individual objects. An experiment is reported in which these two sources of constraints on analogy are placed in competition under conditions of high relational complexity. Results demonstrate equal importance for relational structure and object similarity, both in analogical mapping and in inference generation. The human data were successfully simulated using a computational analogy model (LISA) that treats (...) both relational correspondences and object similarity as soft constraints that operate within a limited-capacity working memory; but not with a model (SME) that treats relational structure as pre-eminent. (shrink)
The effect of state anxiety on analogical reasoning was investigated by examining qualitative differences in mapping performance between anxious and non-anxious individuals reasoning about pictorial analogies. The working-memory restriction theory of anxiety, coupled with theories of analogy that link complexity of mapping with working-memory capacity, predicts that high anxiety will impair the ability to find correspondences based on relations between multiple objects relative to correspondences based on overlap of attributes between individual objects. Anxiety was induced in one condition by a (...) stressful speeded subtraction task administered prior to the analogy task. Anxious participants produced fewer relational responses and more attribute responses than did non-anxious participants, both in the absence of explicit instructions to find relational mappings (Experiment 1) and after receiving such instructions (Experiment 2). The findings support the postulated links among anxiety, working memory, and the ability to perform complex analogical mapping. (shrink)
Halford et al.'s analysis of relational complexity provides a possible framework for characterizing the symbolic functions of the prefrontal cortex. Studies of prefrontal patients have revealed that their performance is selectively impaired on tasks that require integration of two binary relations (i.e., tasks that Halford et al.'s analysis would identify as three-dimensional). Analyses of relational complexity show promise of helping to understand the neural substrate of thinking.