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Summary The philosophy of neuroscience of representation addresses problems concerning the naturalization of representational content as well as questions concerning the format of representations implemented in brains and neural-inspired artificial systems (connectionist networks).
Key works A key work concerning the naturalization of intentional content as seen from a neural perspective is Akins 1996. See also,  Churchland 1993. Regarding whether connectionist networks utilize a distinct kind of representation, see the classic Haugeland 1998.
Introductions For an introductory overview of the neural basis of content, see the early parts of Mandik 2003. On the question of the format of neural representation, as well as related issues concerning neural computation, see Eliasmith 2003.
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  1. Identified Neurons: What If Every Neuron in the Human Brain has its Own Identity?Robert Vermeulen - manuscript
    Recent research suggests that human memories are stored not between neurons as synaptic weights, but within individual neurons themselves. This opens the possibility to replace the dominant paradigm of brain function – neural networks – with a new one. In this article, I explore how “identified neurons” could explain how memories are stored, and how human traits are implemented in the brain.
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  2. Information and the Function of Neurons.Marc Burock - 2011
    Many of us consider it uncontroversial that information processing is a natural function of the brain. Since functions in biology are only won through empirical investigation, there should be a significant body of unambiguous evidence that supports this functional claim. Before we can interpret the evidence, however, we must ask what it means for a biological system to process information. Although a concept of information is generally accepted in the neurosciences without critique, in other biological sciences applications of information, despite (...)
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  3. Evidence for Information Processing in the Brain.Marc Burock - 2010
    Many cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of science consider it uncontroversial that the brain processes information. In this work we broadly consider the types of experimental evidence that would support this claim, and find that although physical features of specific brain areas selectively covary with external stimuli or abilities, there is no direct evidence supporting an information processing function of any particular brain area.
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  4. Neural Oscillations as Representations.Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    We explore the contribution made by oscillatory, synchronous neural activity to representation in the brain. We closely examine six prominent examples of brain function in which neural oscillations play a central role, and identify two levels of involvement that these oscillations take in the emergence of representations: enabling (when oscillations help to establish a communication channel between sender and receiver, or are causally involved in triggering a representation) and properly representational (when oscillations are a constitutive part of the representation). -/- (...)
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  5. Structural representations do not meet the job description challenge.Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Synthese:1-30.
    Structural representations are increasingly popular in philosophy of cognitive science. A key virtue they seemingly boast is that of meeting Ramsey's job description challenge. For this reason, structural representations appear tailored to play a clear representational role within cognitive architectures. Here, however, I claim that structural representations do not meet the job description challenge. This is because even our most demanding account of their functional profile is satisfied by at least some receptors, which paradigmatically fail the job description challenge. Hence, (...)
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  6. Are Generative Models Structural Representations?Marco Facchin - forthcoming - Minds and Machines:1-27.
    Philosophers interested in the theoretical consequences of predictive processing often assume that predictive processing is an inferentialist and representationalist theory of cognition. More specifically, they assume that predictive processing revolves around approximated Bayesian inferences drawn by inverting a generative model. Generative models, in turn, are said to be structural representations: representational vehicles that represent their targets by being structurally similar to them. Here, I challenge this assumption, claiming that, at present, it lacks an adequate justification. I examine the only argument (...)
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  7. Unifying the Essential Concepts of Biological Networks: Biological Insights and Philosophical Foundations.Daniel Kostic, Claus Hilgetag & Marc Tittgemeyer - forthcoming - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
    Over the last decades, network-based approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While these approaches continue to grow very rapidly, some of their conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organisational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. To this end, this highly interdisciplinary theme issue focuses on the definition, motivation (...)
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  8. Against Neuroclassicism: On the Perils of Armchair Neuroscience.Alex Morgan - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Neuroclassicism is the view that cognition is explained by “classical” computing mechanisms in the nervous system that exhibit a clear demarcation between processing machinery and read–write memory. The psychologist C. R. Gallistel has mounted a sophisticated defense of neuroclassicism by drawing from ethology and computability theory to argue that animal brains necessarily contain read–write memory mechanisms. This argument threatens to undermine the “connectionist” orthodoxy in contemporary neuroscience, which does not seem to recognize any such mechanisms. In this paper I argue (...)
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  9. Entity Realism About Mental Representations.Bence Nanay - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-17.
    The concept of mental representation has long been considered to be central concept of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But not everyone agrees. Neo-behaviorists aim to explain the mind without positing any representations. My aim here is not to assess the merits and demerits of neo-behaviorism, but to take their challenge seriously and ask the question: What justifies the attribution of representations to an agent? Both representationalists and neo-behaviorists tend to take it for granted that the real question about (...)
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  10. A memória episódica, o problema da cotemporalidade, e o senso comum.César Schirmer Dos Santos - forthcoming - In Gerson Albuquerque de Araújo Neto & Giovanni Rolla (eds.), Ciência e Conhecimento. Teresina: Editora da Universidade Federal do Piauí. pp. 101-123.
    Os realistas diretos sobre a memória episódica alegam que um sujeito que lembra está em contato direto com um evento passado. No entanto, como seria possível estar em contato direto com um evento que deixou de existir? Este é o assim-chamado problema da cotemporalidade. A solução padrão para este problema, a qual foi proposta por Sven Bernecker, consiste em distinguir entre, por um lado, a ocorrência de um evento, e, por outro lado, a existência de um evento, de modo que (...)
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  11. Subjective Time: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Temporality.Dan Lloyd Valtteri Arstila (ed.) - forthcoming - MIT Press.
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  12. Representation Wars: Enacting an Armistice Through Active Inference.Axel Constant, Andy Clark & Karl J. Friston - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Over the last 30 years, representationalist and dynamicist positions in the philosophy of cognitive science have argued over whether neurocognitive processes should be viewed as representational or not. Major scientific and technological developments over the years have furnished both parties with ever more sophisticated conceptual weaponry. In recent years, an enactive generalization of predictive processing – known as active inference – has been proposed as a unifying theory of brain functions. Since then, active inference has fueled both representationalist and dynamicist (...)
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  13. Virtual Reality for Neurorehabilitation and Cognitive Enhancement.Danko D. Georgiev, Iva Georgieva, Zhengya Gong, Vijayakumar Nanjappan & Georgi V. Georgiev - 2021 - Brain Sciences 11 (2):221.
    Our access to computer-generated worlds changes the way we feel, how we think, and how we solve problems. In this review, we explore the utility of different types of virtual reality, immersive or non-immersive, for providing controllable, safe environments that enable individual training, neurorehabilitation, or even replacement of lost functions. The neurobiological effects of virtual reality on neuronal plasticity have been shown to result in increased cortical gray matter volumes, higher concentration of electroencephalographic beta-waves, and enhanced cognitive performance. Clinical application (...)
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  14. Evolving Concepts of 'Hierarchy' in Systems Neuroscience.Philipp Haueis & Daniel Burnston - 2021 - In Fabrizio Calzavarini & Marco Viola (eds.), Neural Mechanisms: New Challenges in the Philosophy of Neuroscience.
    The notion of “hierarchy” is one of the most commonly posited organizational principles in systems neuroscience. To this date, however, it has received little philosophical analysis. This is unfortunate, because the general concept of hierarchy ranges over two approaches with distinct empirical commitments, and whose conceptual relations remain unclear. We call the first approach the “representational hierarchy” view, which posits that an anatomical hierarchy of feed-forward, feed-back, and lateral connections underlies a signal processing hierarchy of input-output relations. Because the representational (...)
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  15. Superposition.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  16. Universal Tokenization.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  17. Why Crypto-Everything is Here to Stay.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
    Cryptocurrency is just the tip of a never-melting iceberg…because everything in Nature is connected to everything else by an always-conserved (and uber-simple) circle. Giving us, finally, an explanation (and, technically, a use-case, and proof) for a 'self.'.
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  18. Abstraction: How to Understand It.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  19. What Modern Physicists Are 'Discovering'.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  20. Foucault, Deleuze, and Nietzsche.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  21. Referential Reality.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
  22. New Labels for Old Ideas: Predictive Processing and the Interpretation of Neural Signals.Rosa Cao - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):517-546.
    Philosophical proponents of predictive processing cast the novelty of predictive models of perception in terms of differences in the functional role and information content of neural signals. However, they fail to provide constraints on how the crucial semantic mapping from signals to their informational contents is determined. Beyond a novel interpretative gloss on neural signals, they have little new to say about the causal structure of the system, or even what statistical information is carried by the signals. That means that (...)
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  23. The Dynamical Renaissance in Neuroscience.Luis H. Favela - 2020 - Synthese 1 (1):1-25.
    Although there is a substantial philosophical literature on dynamical systems theory in the cognitive sciences, the same is not the case for neuroscience. This paper attempts to motivate increased discussion via a set of overlapping issues. The first aim is primarily historical and is to demonstrate that dynamical systems theory is currently experiencing a renaissance in neuroscience. Although dynamical concepts and methods are becoming increasingly popular in contemporary neuroscience, the general approach should not be viewed as something entirely new to (...)
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  24. Probabilistic Representations in Perception: Are There Any, and What Would They Be?Steven Gross - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (3):377-389.
    Nick Shea’s Representation in Cognitive Science commits him to representations in perceptual processing that are about probabilities. This commentary concerns how to adjudicate between this view and an alternative that locates the probabilities rather in the representational states’ associated “attitudes”. As background and motivation, evidence for probabilistic representations in perceptual processing is adduced, and it is shown how, on either conception, one can address a specific challenge Ned Block has raised to this evidence.
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  25. What Kind of Information is Brain Information?Charles Rathkopf - 2020 - Topoi 39 (1):95-102.
    Neural systems process information. This platitude contains an interesting ambiguity between multiple senses of the term “information.” According to a popular thought, the ambiguity is best resolved by reserving semantic concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a high level of organization, and quantitative concepts of information for the explication of neural activity at a low level of organization. This article articulates the justification behind this view, and concludes that it is an oversimplification. An analysis of the (...)
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  26. The Sense of Time.Gerardo Viera - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):443-469.
    It’s often claimed in the philosophical and scientific literature on temporal representation that there is no such thing as a genuine sensory system for time. In this paper, I argue for the opposite—many animals, including all mammals, possess a genuine sensory system for time based in the circadian system. In arguing for this conclusion, I develop a semantics and meta-semantics for explaining how the endogenous rhythms of the circadian system provide organisms with a direct information link to the temporal structure (...)
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  27. Perception is Analog: The Argument From Weber's Law.Jacob Beck - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (6):319-349.
    In the 1980s, a number of philosophers argued that perception is analog. In the ensuing years, these arguments were forcefully criticized, leaving the thesis in doubt. This paper draws on Weber’s Law, a well-entrenched finding from psychophysics, to advance a new argument that perception is analog. This new argument is an adaptation of an argument that cognitive scientists have leveraged in support of the contention that primitive numerical representations are analog. But the argument here is extended to the representation of (...)
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  28. Joint Action Goals Reduce Visuomotor Interference Effects From a Partner’s Incongruent Actions.Sam Clarke, Luke McEllin, Anna Francová, Marcell Székely, Stephen Andrew Butterfill & John Michael - 2019 - Scientific Reports 9 (1).
    Joint actions often require agents to track others’ actions while planning and executing physically incongruent actions of their own. Previous research has indicated that this can lead to visuomotor interference effects when it occurs outside of joint action. How is this avoided or overcome in joint actions? We hypothesized that when joint action partners represent their actions as interrelated components of a plan to bring about a joint action goal, each partner’s movements need not be represented in relation to distinct, (...)
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  29. Informational Neuro-Connections of the Brain with the Body Supporting the Informational Model of Consciousness.Florin Gaiseanu - 2019 - Archives in Neurology and Neuroscience 4 (1):1-6.
    Introduction: The objective of this investigation is to analyse the informational circuits of the brain connections with the body from neurologic and neuroscience point of view, on the basis of the concepts of information promoted by the Informational Model of Consciousness. Analysis: Distinguishing between the virtual and matter-related information promoted by the Informational Model of Consciousness, the main specific features of consciousness are analyzed from the informational perspective, showing that the informational architecture of consciousness consists in seven groups of specific (...)
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  30. Teleosemantics, Selection and Novel Contents.Justin Garson & David Papineau - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):36.
    Mainstream teleosemantics is the view that mental representation should be understood in terms of biological functions, which, in turn, should be understood in terms of selection processes. One of the traditional criticisms of teleosemantics is the problem of novel contents: how can teleosemantics explain our ability to represent properties that are evolutionarily novel? In response, some have argued that by generalizing the notion of a selection process to include phenomena such as operant conditioning, and the neural selection that underlies it, (...)
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  31. Similarity-Based Cognition: Radical Enactivism Meets Cognitive Neuroscience.Miguel Segundo-Ortin & Daniel D. Hutto - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):1-19.
    Similarity-based cognition is commonplace. It occurs whenever an agent or system exploits the similarities that hold between two or more items—e.g., events, processes, objects, and so on—in order to perform some cognitive task. This kind of cognition is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists. This paper explicates how similarity-based cognition can be understood through the lens of radical enactivism and why doing so has advantages over its representationalist rival, which posits the existence of structural representations or S-representations. Specifically, it is (...)
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  32. Using Neural Response Properties to Draw the Distinction Between Modal and Amodal Representations.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (3):301-331.
    Barsalou has recently argued against the strategy of identifying amodal neural representations by using their cross-modal responses (i.e., their responses to stimuli from different modalities). I agree that there are indeed modal structures that satisfy this “cross-modal response” criterion (CM), such as distributed and conjunctive modal representations. However, I argue that we can distinguish between modal and amodal structures by looking into differences in their cross-modal responses. A component of a distributed cell assembly can be considered unimodal because its responses (...)
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  33. Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of Intentionality.Alex Morgan & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):119-139.
    We situate the debate on intentionality within the rise of cognitive neuroscience and argue that cognitive neuroscience can explain intentionality. We discuss the explanatory significance of ascribing intentionality to representations. At first, we focus on views that attempt to render such ascriptions naturalistic by construing them in a deflationary or merely pragmatic way. We then contrast these views with staunchly realist views that attempt to naturalize intentionality by developing theories of content for representations in terms of information and biological function. (...)
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  34. No-Report Paradigmatic Ascription of the Minimally Conscious State: Neural Signals as a Communicative Means for Operational Diagnostic Criteria.Hyungrae Noh - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):173-189.
    The minimally conscious sta te (MCS) is usually ascribed when a patientwith brain damage exhibits obser vable volitional behaviors that predict recovery ofcognitive funct ions. Nevertheless, a patient with brain damage who lacks motorcapacit y might nonetheless be in MCS. For this reason, some clinicians use neuralsignals as a communicative means for MCS ascription. For instance, a vegetativestate patient is diagnosed with MCS if activity in the motor area is observed whenthe instruction to imagine wiggling toes is given. The validi (...)
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  35. An Efficient Coding Approach to the Debate on Grounded Cognition.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5245-5269.
    The debate between the amodal and the grounded views of cognition seems to be stuck. Their only substantial disagreement is about the vehicle or format of concepts. Amodal theorists reject the grounded claim that concepts are couched in the same modality-specific format as representations in sensory systems. The problem is that there is no clear characterization of format or its neural correlate. In order to make the disagreement empirically meaningful and move forward in the discussion we need a neurocognitive criterion (...)
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  36. A Defense of an Amodal Number System.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2018 - Philosophies 3 (2):13-0.
    It has been argued that the approximate number system constitutes a problem for the grounded approach to cognition because it implies that some conceptual tasks are performed by non-perceptual systems. The ANS is considered non-perceptual mainly because it processes stimuli from different modalities. Jones has recently argued that this system has many features which are characteristic of sensory systems. Additionally, he affirms that traditional sensory systems also process inputs from different modalities. This suggests that the ANS is a perceptual system (...)
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  37. Representation and Mental Representation.Robert D. Rupert - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):204-225.
    This paper engages critically with anti-representationalist arguments pressed by prominent enactivists and their allies. The arguments in question are meant to show that the “as-such” and “job-description” problems constitute insurmountable challenges to causal-informational theories of mental content. In response to these challenges, a positive account of what makes a physical or computational structure a mental representation is proposed; the positive account is inspired partly by Dretske’s views about content and partly by the role of mental representations in contemporary cognitive scientific (...)
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  38. Symbolic Representations of Reality.Ilexa Yardley - 2018 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
  39. Brain, Mind, World: Predictive Coding, Neo-Kantianism, and Transcendental Idealism.Dan Zahavi - 2018 - Husserl Studies 34 (1):47-61.
    Recently, a number of neuroscientists and philosophers have taken the so-called predictive coding approach to support a form of radical neuro-representationalism, according to which the content of our conscious experiences is a neural construct, a brain-generated simulation. There is remarkable similarity between this account and ideas found in and developed by German neo-Kantians in the mid-nineteenth century. Some of the neo-Kantians eventually came to have doubts about the cogency and internal consistency of the representationalist framework they were operating within. In (...)
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  40. Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Brain. [REVIEW]Andrew Buskell - 2017 - BJPS Review of Books.
  41. Structural Representations: Causally Relevant and Different From Detectors.Paweł Gładziejewski & Marcin Miłkowski - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):337-355.
    This paper centers around the notion that internal, mental representations are grounded in structural similarity, i.e., that they are so-called S-representations. We show how S-representations may be causally relevant and argue that they are distinct from mere detectors. First, using the neomechanist theory of explanation and the interventionist account of causal relevance, we provide a precise interpretation of the claim that in S-representations, structural similarity serves as a “fuel of success”, i.e., a relation that is exploitable for the representation using (...)
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  42. Modelling Empty Representations: The Case of Computational Models of Hallucination.Marcin Miłkowski - 2017 - In Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Raffaela Giovagnoli (eds.), Representation and Reality in Humans, Other Living Organisms and Intelligent Machines. Springer, Cham. pp. 17--32.
    I argue that there are no plausible non-representational explanations of episodes of hallucination. To make the discussion more specific, I focus on visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome. I claim that the character of such hallucinatory experiences cannot be explained away non-representationally, for they cannot be taken as simple failures of cognizing or as failures of contact with external reality—such failures being the only genuinely non-representational explanations of hallucinations and cognitive errors in general. I briefly introduce a recent computational model (...)
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  43. The Future of Cognitive Neuroscience? Reverse Inference in Focus.Marco J. Nathan & Guillermo Del Pinal - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):e12427.
    This article presents and discusses one of the most prominent inferential strategies currently employed in cognitive neuropsychology, namely, reverse inference. Simply put, this is the practice of inferring, in the context of experimental tasks, the engagement of cognitive processes from locations or patterns of neural activation. This technique is notoriously controversial because, critics argue, it presupposes the problematic assumption that neural areas are functionally selective. We proceed as follows. We begin by introducing the basic structure of traditional “location-based” reverse inference (...)
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  44. Evidence for a Universe of Illusion.Richard Sanders - 2017 - In Academia.edu. San Francisco, USA:
    I believe that the Buddhist paradigm of the phenomenal world—particularly, the Buddhist assertion that the phenomenal world is not as it appears—is supported by a scientific analysis of perception. When we consider carefully the basics of human perception, as understood by modern science, it becomes clear that phenomenal events are not represented as they truly are. This infidelity of information transfer from external phenomena to personal experience is consistent with the Buddhist view of the world as 'illusory'. Further, I would (...)
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  45. Why Foot-Tapping Is Important but Not Enough? Some Methodological Problems in the Embodied Approach to Musical Meaning.Tomasz Szubart - 2017 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 8 (1):101-106.
    In this short paper I critically analyze Marc Leman’s embodied approach to musical meaning and representation, suggesting that its explanatory value is not sufficient in order to be a good alternative for theories encompassing the concept of representation.
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  46. Brain Projective Reality: Novel Clothes for the Emperor.Arturo Tozzi, James F. Peters, Andrew A. Fingelkurts, Alexander A. Fingelkurts & Pedro C. Marijuán - 2017 - Physics of Life Reviews 21:46-55.
    First of all, we would like to gratefully thank all commentators for the attention and effort they have put into reading and responding to our review paper [this issue] and for useful observations that suggest novel applications for our framework. We understand and accept that some of our claims might appear controversial and raise skepticism, because the overall neural framework we have proposed is difficult to frame in established categories, given its strong multidisciplinary character. To make an example, Elsevier is (...)
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  47. Vanilla PP for Philosophers: A Primer on Predictive Processing.Wanja Wiese & Thomas Metzinger - 2017 - Philosophy and Predictive Processing.
    The goal of this short chapter, aimed at philosophers, is to provide an overview and brief explanation of some central concepts involved in predictive processing (PP). Even those who consider themselves experts on the topic may find it helpful to see how the central terms are used in this collection. To keep things simple, we will first informally define a set of features important to predictive processing, supplemented by some short explanations and an alphabetic glossary. -/- The features described here (...)
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  48. Liberal Representationalism: A Deflationist Defense.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (3):407-430.
    The idea that only complex brains can possess genuine representations is an important element in mainstream philosophical thinking. An alternative view, which I label ‘liberal representationalism’, holds that we should accept the existence of many more full-blown representations, from activity in retinal ganglion cells to the neural states produced by innate releasing mechanisms in cognitively unsophisticated organisms. A promising way of supporting liberal representationalism is to show it to be a consequence of our best naturalistic theories of representation. However, several (...)
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  49. Teleosemantic Modeling of Cognitive Representations.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):483-505.
    Naturalistic theories of representation seek to specify the conditions that must be met for an entity to represent another entity. Although these approaches have been relatively successful in certain areas, such as communication theory or genetics, many doubt that they can be employed to naturalize complex cognitive representations. In this essay I identify some of the difficulties for developing a teleosemantic theory of cognitive representations and provide a strategy for accommodating them: to look into models of signaling in evolutionary game (...)
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  50. Predictive Coding and Representationalism.Paweł Gładziejewski - 2016 - Synthese 193 (2).
    According to the predictive coding theory of cognition , brains are predictive machines that use perception and action to minimize prediction error, i.e. the discrepancy between bottom–up, externally-generated sensory signals and top–down, internally-generated sensory predictions. Many consider PCT to have an explanatory scope that is unparalleled in contemporary cognitive science and see in it a framework that could potentially provide us with a unified account of cognition. It is also commonly assumed that PCT is a representational theory of sorts, in (...)
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1 — 50 / 218