This systematic investigation of computation and mental phenomena by a noted psychologist and computer scientist argues that cognition is a form of computation, that the semantic contents of mental states are encoded in the same general way as computer representations are encoded. It is a rich and sustained investigation of the assumptions underlying the directions cognitive science research is taking. 1 The Explanatory Vocabulary of Cognition 2 The Explanatory Role of Representations 3 The Relevance of Computation 4 The Psychological Reality (...) of Programs: Strong Equivalence 5 Constraining Functional Architecture 6 The Bridge from Physical to Symbolic: Transduction 7 Functional Architecture and Analogue Processes 8 Mental Imagery and Functional Architecture 9 Epilogue: What is Cognitive Science the Science of? (shrink)
This paper explores the difference between Connectionist proposals for cognitive a r c h i t e c t u r e a n d t h e s o r t s o f m o d e l s t hat have traditionally been assum e d i n c o g n i t i v e s c i e n c e . W e c l a i m t h a t t h (...) e m a j o r d i s t i n c t i o n i s t h a t , w h i l e b o t h Connectionist and Classical architectures postulate representational mental states, the latter but not the former are committed to a symbol-level of representation, or to a ‘language of thought’: i.e., to representational states that have combinatorial syntactic and semantic structure. Several arguments for combinatorial structure in mental representations are then reviewed. These include arguments based on the ‘systematicity’ of mental representation: i.e., on the fact that cognitive capacities always exhibit certain symmetries, so that the ability to entertain a given thought implies the ability to entertain thoughts with semantically related contents. We claim that such arguments make a powerful case that mind/brain architecture is not Connectionist at the cognitive level. We then consider the possibility that Connectionism may provide an account of the neural (or ‘abstract neurological’) structures in which Classical cognitive architecture is implemented. We survey a n u m b e r o f t h e s t a n d a r d a r g u m e n t s t h a t h a v e b e e n o f f e r e d i n f a v o r o f Connectionism, and conclude that they are coherent only on this interpretation. (shrink)
The computational view of mind rests on certain intuitions regarding the fundamental similarity between computation and cognition. We examine some of these intuitions and suggest that they derive from the fact that computers and human organisms are both physical systems whose behavior is correctly described as being governed by rules acting on symbolic representations. Some of the implications of this view are discussed. It is suggested that a fundamental hypothesis of this approach is that there is a natural domain of (...) human functioning that can be addressed exclusively in terms of a formal symbolic or algorithmic vocabulary or level of analysis. Much of the paper elaborates various conditions that need to be met if a literal view of mental activity as computation is to serve as the basis for explanatory theories. The coherence of such a view depends on there being a principled distinction between functions whose explanation requires that we posit internal representations and those that we can appropriately describe as merely instantiating causal physical or biological laws. In this paper the distinction is empirically grounded in a methodological criterion called the " cognitive impenetrability condition." Functions are said to be cognitively impenetrable if they cannot be influenced by such purely cognitive factors as goals, beliefs, inferences, tacit knowledge, and so on. Such a criterion makes it possible to empirically separate the fixed capacities of mind from the particular representations and algorithms used on specific occasions. In order for computational theories to avoid being ad hoc, they must deal effectively with the "degrees of freedom" problem by constraining the extent to which they can be arbitrarily adjusted post hoc to fit some particular set of observations. This in turn requires that the fixed architectural function and the algorithms be independently validated. It is argued that the architectural assumptions implicit in many contemporary models run afoul of the cognitive impenetrability condition, since the required fixed functions are demonstrably sensitive to tacit knowledge and goals. The paper concludes with some tactical suggestions for the development of computational cognitive theories. (shrink)
In "Things and Places," Zenon Pylyshyn argues that the process of incrementally constructing perceptual representations, solving the binding problem (determining which properties go together), and, more generally, grounding perceptual ...
It is generally accepted that there is something special about reasoning by using mental images. The question of how it is special, however, has never been satisfactorily spelled out, despite more than thirty years of research in the post-behaviorist tradition. This article considers some of the general motivation for the assumption that entertaining mental images involves inspecting a picture-like object. It sets out a distinction between phenomena attributable to the nature of mind to what is called the cognitive architecture, and (...) ones that are attributable to tacit knowledge used to simulate what would happen in a visual situation. With this distinction in mind, the paper then considers in detail the widely held assumption that in some important sense images are spatially displayed or are depictive, and that examining images uses the same mechanisms that are deployed in visual perception. I argue that the assumption of the spatial or depictive nature of images is only explanatory if taken literally, as a claim about how images are physically instantiated in the brain, and that the literal view fails for a number of empirical reasons – for example, because of the cognitive penetrability of the phenomena cited in its favor. Similarly, while it is arguably the case that imagery and vision involve some of the same mechanisms, this tells us very little about the nature of mental imagery and does not support claims about the pictorial nature of mental images. Finally, I consider whether recent neuroscience evidence clarifies the debate over the nature of mental images. I claim that when such questions as whether images are depictive or spatial are formulated more clearly, the evidence does not provide support for the picture-theory over a symbol-structure theory of mental imagery. Even if all the empirical claims were true, they do not warrant the conclusion that many people have drawn from them: that mental images are depictive or are displayed in some (possibly cortical) space. Such a conclusion is incompatible with what is known about how images function in thought. We are then left with the provisional counterintuitive conclusion that the available evidence does not support rejection of what I call the “null hypothesis”; namely, that reasoning with mental images involves the same form of representation and the same processes as that of reasoning in general, except that the content or subject matter of thoughts experienced as images includes information about how things would look. (shrink)
This paper argues that a theory of situated vision, suited for the dual purposes of object recognition and the control of action, will have to provide something more than a system that constructs a conceptual representation from visual stimuli: it will also need to provide a special kind of direct (preconceptual, unmediated) connection between elements of a visual representation and certain elements in the world. Like natural language demonstratives (such as `this' or `that') this direct connection allows entities to be (...) referred to without being categorized or conceptualized. Several reasons are given for why we need such a preconcep- tual mechanism which individuates and keeps track of several individual objects in the world. One is that early vision must pick out and compute the relation among several individual objects while ignoring their properties. Another is that incrementally computing and updating representations of a dynamic scene requires keeping track of token individuals despite changes in their properties or locations. It is then noted that a mechanism meeting these requirements has already been proposed in order to account for a number of disparate empiri- cal phenomena, including subitizing, search-subset selection and multiple object tracking (Pylyshyn et al., Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 48(2) (1994) 260). This mechanism, called a visual index or FINST, is brie. (shrink)
In three experiments, subjects attempted to track multiple items as they moved independently and unpredictably about a display. Performance was not impaired when the items were briefly (but completely) occluded at various times during their motion, suggesting that occlusion is taken into account when computing enduring perceptual objecthood. Unimpaired performance required the presence of accretion and deletion cues along fixed contours at the occluding boundaries. Performance was impaired when items were present on the visual field at the same times and (...) to the same degrees as in the occlusion conditions, but disappeared and reappeared in ways which did not implicate the presence of occluding surfaces (e.g. by imploding and exploding into and out of existence, instead of accreting and deleting along a fixed contour). Unimpaired performance did not require visible occluders (i.e. Michotte’s tunnel effect) or globally consistent occluder positions. We discuss implications of these results for theories of objecthood in visual attention. (shrink)
It is argued that the traditional distinction between artificial intelligence and cognitive simulation amounts to little more than a difference in style of research - a different ordering in goal priorities and different methodological allegiances. Both enterprises are constrained by empirical considerations and both are directed at understanding classes of tasks that are defined by essentially psychological criteria. Because of the different ordering of priorities, however, they occasionally take somewhat different stands on such issues as the power/generality trade-off and on (...) the relevance of the sort of data collected in experimental psychology laboratories. (shrink)
In the past decade there has been renewed interest in the study of mental imagery. Emboldened by new findings from neuroscience, many people have revived the idea that mental imagery involves a special format of thought, one that is pictorial in nature. But the evidence and the arguments that exposed deep conceptual and empirical problems in the picture theory over the past 300 years have not gone away. I argue that the new evidence from neural imaging and clinical neuropsychology does (...) little to justify this recidivism because it does not address the format of mental images. I also discuss some reasons why the picture theory is so resistant to counterarguments and suggest ways in which non-pictorial theories might account for the apparent spatial nature of images. (shrink)
inﬂuence. One of the principal characteristics that distinguishes Cognitive Science from more traditional studies of cognition within Psychology, is the extent to which it has been inﬂuenced by both the ideas and the techniques of computing. It may come as a surprise to the outsider, then, to discover that there is no unanimity within the discipline on either (a) the nature (and in some cases the desireabilty) of the inﬂuence and (b) what computing is –- or at least on its.
called,_ Cognitive Science_ was to bring back scienti?c realism. This may strike you as a very odd claim, for one does not usually think of science as needing to be talked into scienti?c realism. Science is, after all, the study of reality by the most precise instruments of measurement and.
I’m one of those who is awed and impressed by the potential of this ﬁeld and have devoted some part of my energy to persuading people that it is a positive force. I have done so largely on the grounds of its economic beneﬁts and it potential for making the fruits of computer technology more generally available to the public — for example, to help the overworked physician; to search for oil and minerals and help manage our valuable resources; to (...) explore, mine, and experimentindangerousenvironments;toallowthenon-computingpublicaccesstovast libraries of important information and even advice, and in the process give real meaning to the.. (shrink)
The target article proposes that visual experience arises when sensorimotor contingencies are exploited in perception. This novel analysis of visual experience fares no better than the other proposals that the article rightly dismisses, and for the same reasons. Extracting invariants may be needed for recognition, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient for having a visual experience. While the idea that vision involves the active extraction of sensorimotor invariants has merit, it does not replace the need for perceptual representations. Vision (...) is not just for the immediate controlling of action; it is also for finding out about the world, from which inferences may be drawn and beliefs changed. (shrink)
You might reasonably surmise from the title of this paper that I will be discussing a theory of vision. After all, what is a theory of vision but a theory of how the world is connected to our visual representations? Theories of visual perception universally attempt to give an account of how a proximal stimulus (presumably a pattern impinging on the retina) can lead to a rich representation of a three dimensional world and thence to either the recognition of known (...) objects or to the coordination of actions with visual information. Such theories typically provide an effective (i.e., computable) mapping from a 2D pattern to a representation of a 3D scene, usually in the form of a symbol structure. But such a mapping, though undoubtedly the essential purpose of a theory of vision, leaves at least one serious problem that I intend to discuss here. It is this problem, rather than a theory of vision itself, that is the subject of this talk. (shrink)
We previously reported that in the Multiple Object Tracking (MOT) task, which requires tracking several identical targets moving unpredictably among identical nontargets, the nontargets appear to be inhibited, as measured by a probe-dot detection method. The inhibition appears to be local to nontargets and does not extend to the space between objects – dropping off very rapidly away from targets and nontargets. In the present three experiments we show that (1) nontargets that are identical to targets but remain in a (...) fixed location are not inhibited and (2) moving objects that have a different shape from targets are inhibited as much as same-shape nontargets, and (3) nontargets that are on a different depth plane and so are easily filtered out are not inhibited. This is consistent with a taskdependent view of item inhibition wherein nontargets are inhibited if (and only if) they are likely to be mistaken for targets. (shrink)
This study investigates a new experimental paradigm called the Modified Traveling Salesman Problem. This task requires subjects to visit once and only once n invisible targets in a 2D display, using a virtual vehicle controlled by the subject. Subjects can only see the directions of the targets from the current location of the vehicle, displayed by a set of oriented segments that can be viewed inside a circular window surrounding the vehicle. Two conditions were compared. In the “allocentric” condition, subjects (...) see the vehicle move across the screen and change orientation under their command. The “egocentric” condition is similar except for how the information is provided: the position and orientation of the vehicle icon remains fixed at the center of the screen and only target directions, as indicated by the oriented segments, change as the subject “moves” the vehicle. The unexpected finding was that this task can be performed, in either condition, for up to 10 targets. We consider two possible strategies that might be used, a location-based strategy and a segment strategy. The location-based strategy relies on spatial memory and attempts to infer the locations of all the targets. The segment strategy is more local and focuses on the directional segments themselves, keeping track of the ones that represent already-visited targets. A number of observations suggest that the segment strategy was used, at least for larger numbers of targets. According to our hypothesis, keeping track of the segments requires one to use indexical reference for associating the segments with their status in the task - given by current status predicates Visited or Not-visited -, perhaps using visual indexes, deictic pointers, or object files. (shrink)
Assuming that the vehicle of imaginal thought is a spatial model may not be quite as egregious an error as assuming it is a two-dimensional picture, but it represents no less a reification error. Because the model is not a literal physical layout, one is still owed an explanation of why spatial properties hold in the model – whether because of architectural constraints or by stipulation. The difference is like the difference between explaining behavior from a principle and predicting it (...) by looking it up in a list. In the latter case no purpose is being served by calling it a mental model. (shrink)
This is indeed an auspicious time for Cognitive Science. I stand here before you this evening as the first Chair to give a presidential address to this austere body, to place on record before you what you are to accept as the Society's official view on the new science of the mind.
After thirty years of the current “imagery debate,” it appears far from resolved, even though there seems to be a growing acceptance that a cortical display cannot be identified directly with the experienced mental image, nor can it account for the experimental findings on imagery, at least not without additional ad hoc assumptions. The commentaries on the target article range from the annoyed to the supportive, with a surprising number of the latter. In this response I attempt to correct some (...) misreadings of the target article and discuss some of the ideas and evidence introduced by the commentators – much of which I found helpful, even though they do not alter my basic thesis. I also further develop the idea that the spatial character of images may come from the way they are connected to our immediate or immediately-recalled environment (by attention or by visual indexes) and towards which we may orient while we are imaging, thus leaving the alleged spatial properties of images outside the head and freeing image-representations from having to be displayed on any surface. (shrink)