Concepts as Semantic Pointers: A Framework and Computational Model

Cognitive Science 40 (5):1128-1162 (2016)

Authors
Chris Eliasmith
University of Waterloo
Peter Blouw
University of Waterloo
Paul Thagard
University of Waterloo
Abstract
The reconciliation of theories of concepts based on prototypes, exemplars, and theory-like structures is a longstanding problem in cognitive science. In response to this problem, researchers have recently tended to adopt either hybrid theories that combine various kinds of representational structure, or eliminative theories that replace concepts with a more finely grained taxonomy of mental representations. In this paper, we describe an alternative approach involving a single class of mental representations called “semantic pointers.” Semantic pointers are symbol-like representations that result from the compression and recursive binding of perceptual, lexical, and motor representations, effectively integrating traditional connectionist and symbolic approaches. We present a computational model using semantic pointers that replicates experimental data from categorization studies involving each prior paradigm. We argue that a framework involving semantic pointers can provide a unified account of conceptual phenomena, and we compare our framework to existing alternatives in accounting for the scope, content, recursive combination, and neural implementation of concepts.
Keywords Neural computation  Mental representation  Semantics  Concepts  Categorization  Computational modeling
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DOI 10.1111/cogs.12265
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Predictive Processing and the Representation Wars.Daniel Williams - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):141-172.
Dual PECCS: A Cognitive System for Conceptual Representation and Categorization.Antonio Lieto, Daniele Radicioni & Valentina Rho - 2017 - Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 29 (2):433-452.
The Benefits of Prototypes: The Case of Medical Concepts.Cristina Amoretti, Marcello Frixione & Antonio Lieto - 2017 - Reti, Saperi E Linguaggi, The Italian Journal of Cognitive Sciences, 2017 3.

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