Working memory limits are best defined in terms of the complexity of the relations that can be processed in parallel. Complexity is defined as the number of related dimensions or sources of variation. A unary relation has one argument and one source of variation; its argument can be instantiated in only one way at a time. A binary relation has two arguments, two sources of variation, and two instantiations, and so on. Dimensionality is related to the number of chunks, because (...) both attributes on dimensions and chunks are independent units of information of arbitrary size. Studies of working memory limits suggest that there is a soft limit corresponding to the parallel processing of one quaternary relation. More complex concepts are processed by or In segmentation, tasks are broken into components that do not exceed processing capacity and can be processed serially. In conceptual chunking, representations are to reduce their dimensionality and hence their processing load, but at the cost of making some relational information inaccessible. Neural net models of relational representations show that relations with more arguments have a higher computational cost that coincides with experimental findings on higher processing loads in humans. Relational complexity is related to processing load in reasoning and sentence comprehension and can distinguish between the capacities of higher species. The complexity of relations processed by children increases with age. Implications for neural net models and theories of cognition and cognitive development are discussed. (shrink)
Researchers have begun to explore animals' capacities for uncertainty monitoring and metacognition. This exploration could extend the study of animal self-awareness and establish the relationship of self-awareness to other-awareness. It could sharpen descriptions of metacognition in the human literature and suggest the earliest roots of metacognition in human development. We summarize research on uncertainty monitoring by humans, monkeys, and a dolphin within perceptual and metamemory tasks. We extend phylogenetically the search for metacognitive capacities by considering studies that have tested less (...) cognitively sophisticated species. By using the same uncertainty-monitoring paradigms across species, it should be possible to map the phylogenetic distribution of metacognition and illuminate the emergence of mind. We provide a unifying formal description of animals' performances and examine the optimality of their decisional strategies. Finally, we interpret animals' and humans' nearly identical performances psychologically. Low-level, stimulus-based accounts cannot explain the phenomena. The results suggest granting animals a higher-level decision-making process that involves criterion setting using controlled cognitive processes. This conclusion raises the difficult question of animal consciousness. The results show that animals have functional features of or parallels to human conscious cognition. Remaining questions are whether animals also have the phenomenal features that are the feeling/knowing states of human conscious cognition, and whether the present paradigms can be extended to demonstrate that they do. Thus, the comparative study of metacognition potentially grounds the systematic study of animal consciousness. Key Words: cognition; comparative cognition; consciousness; memory monitoring; metacognition; metamemory; self-awareness; uncertainty; uncertainty monitoring. (shrink)
Introductory Abstract Philosophers of science, in the course of making a sharp distinction between the tasks of the philosopher and those of the scientist, have pointed to the possibility of an empirical science of induction. A comparative psychology of knowledge processes is offered as one aspect of this potential enterprise. From fragments of such a psychology, methodological suggestions are drawn relevant to several chronic problems in the social sciences, including the publication of negative results from novel explorations, the operational (...) diagnosis of dispositions, the status of aggregates of persons as social entities, and the validation of psychological tests. (shrink)
The prevailing view that there is significant cognitive continuity between humans and other animals is a result of misinterpretations of the role of evolution, combined with anthropomorphism. This combination has often resulted in an over-interpretation of data from animal experiments. Comparative psychology should do what the name indicates: study the cognitive capacities of different species empirically, without naive evolutionary presuppositions.
Abstract Surprisingly, little theoretical attention has so far been paid to the ?Comparative Assumption?: the attempt to extrapolate from species to species in psychology (and particularly to the human species). This paper examines the problems and the possibilities inherent in the Comparative Assumption. Perhaps the most important conclusion of the paper is that much more work is needed on this intriguing question.
Dennett, a philosopher, and Griffin, an ethologist, have recently presented influential arguments promoting the extended use of intentional language by students of animal behavior. This essay seeks to elucidate and to contrast the claims made by each of these authors, and to evaluate their proposals primarily from the perspective of a practicing comparative psychologist or ethologist. While Griffin regards intentional terms as explanatory, Dennett assigns them a descriptive function; the issue of animal consciousness is central to Griffin's program and (...) only tangentially related to Dennett's. The philosopher's arguments are founded upon a more coherent metaphysics, but Dennett neglects to substantiate his claim that animal competences can be most readily modelled by artificial intelligence specialists when they are described in intentional terms. Both authors assume that some examples of animal behavior should not be given an intentional characterization, but neither provides adequate guidelines for the identification of cases belonging to this negative set. (shrink)
While the homology concept has taken on importance in thinking about the nature of psychological kinds, no one has shown how comparative psychological and behavioral evidence can distinguish between competing homology claims. I adapt the operational criteria of homology to accomplish this. I consider two competing homology claims that compare human anger with putative aggression systems of nonhuman animals, and demonstrate the effectiveness of these criteria in adjudicating between these claims.
Suddendorf explores “the gap” between humans and other animals, with a particular emphasis on our great ape relatives. Both for nonscientists and those scientists or philosophers whose work is not centrally preoccupied with such questions, the book provides a tidy compendium of experimental results organized around a number of precisely defined areas of competence. He takes language, mental time travel, theory of mind, intelligence, culture and morality to be definitive of human cognitive prowess and judiciously evaluates the comparative evidence (...) he has assembled in respect of each of them .What is especially refreshing about his interpretations is that they come off as measured and dispassionate just when one imagines the pull of optimism would be strongest. At no point does he rely on hand-waving explanations or recapitulate familiar pieties about man and beast.The book begins with some fairly friendly orientation. While not essential to the developing .. (shrink)