Cognitive scientists have a variety of approaches to studying cognition: experimental psychology, computer science, robotics, neuroscience, educational psychology, philosophy of mind, and psycholinguistics, to name but a few. In addition, they also differ in their approaches to cognition - some of them consider that the mind works basically like a computer, involving programs composed of abstract, amodal, and arbitrary symbols. Others claim that cognition is embodied - that is, symbols must be grounded on perceptual, motoric, and emotional experience. The existence (...) of such different approaches has consequences when dealing with practical issues such as understanding brain disorders, designing artificial intelligence programs and robots, improving psychotherapy, or designing instructional programs. The symbolist and embodiment camps seldom engage in any kind of debate to clarify their differences. This book is the first attempt to do so. It brings together a team of outstanding scientists, adopting symbolist and embodied viewpoints, in an attempt to understand how the mind works and the nature of linguistic meaning. As well as being interdisciplinary, all authors have made an attempt to find solutions to substantial issues beyond specific vocabularies and techniques. (shrink)
Baars (1988, 1997) has proposed a psychological theory of consciousness, called global workspace theory. The present study describes a software agent implementation of that theory, called ''Conscious'' Mattie (CMattie). CMattie operates in a clerical domain from within a UNIX operating system, sending messages and interpreting messages in natural language that organize seminars at a university. CMattie fleshes out global workspace theory with a detailed computational model that integrates contemporary architectures in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Baars (1997) lists the psychological (...) ''facts that any complete theory of consciousness must explain'' in his appendix to In the Theater of Consciousness; global workspace theory was designed to explain these ''facts.'' The present article discusses how the design of CMattie accounts for these facts and thereby the extent to which it implements global workspace theory. (shrink)
The proposed multilevel framework of discourse comprehension includes the surface code, the textbase, the situation model, the genre and rhetorical structure, and the pragmatic communication level. We describe these five levels when comprehension succeeds and also when there are communication misalignments and comprehension breakdowns. A computer tool has been developed, called Coh-Metrix, that scales discourse (oral or print) on dozens of measures associated with the first four discourse levels. The measurement of these levels with an automated tool helps researchers track (...) and better understand multilevel discourse comprehension. Two sets of analyses illustrate the utility of Coh-Metrix in discourse theory and educational practice. First, Coh-Metrix was used to measure the cohesion of the text base and situation model, as well as potential extraneous variables, in a sample of published studies that manipulated text cohesion. This analysis helped us better understand what was precisely manipulated in these studies and the implications for discourse comprehension mechanisms. Second, Coh-Metrix analyses are reported for samples of narrative and science texts in order to advance the argument that traditional text difficulty measures are limited because they fail to accommodate most of the levels of the multilevel discourse comprehension framework. (shrink)
Top-down dynamical models of cognitive processes, such as the one presented by Thelen et al., are important pieces in understanding the development of cognitive abilities in humans and biological organisms. Unlike standard symbolic computational approaches to cognition, such dynamical models offer the hope that they can be connected with more bottom-up, neurologically inspired dynamical models to provide a complete view of cognition at all levels. We raise some questions about the details of their simulation and about potential limitations of top-down (...) dynamical models. (shrink)
The meanings of abstract concepts depend on context. Perceptual symbol systems (PSS) provide a powerful framework for representing such context. Whereas a few expected difficulties for simulations are consistent with empirical findings, the theory does not clearly predict simulations of specific abstract concepts in a testable way and does not appear to distinguish abstract noun concepts (like truth) from their stem concepts (such as true).
Researchers in the field of discourse processing have investigated how mental models are constructed when adults comprehend stories. They have explored the process of encoding various classes of inferences “on-line” when these mental microworlds are constructed during comprehension. This commentary addresses the extent to which these inferences and mental microworlds are “embodied.”.
Schyns, Goldstone & Thibaut present reasonable arguments for feature creation in category learning. We argue, however, that they do not provide unequivocal evidence either for the necessity or for the occurrence of feature creation. In an effort to sharpen the debate, we take the stand that a fixed feature approach is to be preferred in the absence of compelling evidence.