One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the (...) way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action. (shrink)
Cognitive control has long been one of the most active areas of computational modeling work in cognitive science. The focus on computational models as a medium for specifying and developing theory predates the PDP books, and cognitive control was not one of the areas on which they focused. However, the framework they provided has injected work on cognitive control with new energy and new ideas. On the occasion of the books' anniversary, we review computational modeling in the study of cognitive (...) control, with a focus on the influence that the PDP approach has brought to bear in this area. Rather than providing a comprehensive review, we offer a framework for thinking about past and future modeling efforts in this domain. We define control in terms of the optimal parameterization of task processing. From this vantage point, the development of control systems in the brain can be seen as responding to the structure of naturalistic tasks, through the filter of the brain systems with which control directly interfaces. This perspective lays open a set of fascinating but difficult research questions, which together define an important frontier for future computational research. (shrink)
The dynamical systems approach in cognitive science offers a potentially useful perspective on both brain and behavior. Indeed, the importation of formal tools from dynamical systems research has already paid off for our field in many ways. However, like some other theoretical perspectives in cognitive science, the dynamical systems approach comes in both moderate or pragmatic and “fundamentalist” varieties (Jones & Love, 2011). In the latter form, dynamical systems theory can rise to some stirring rhetorical heights. However, as argued here, (...) it also triggers a number of serious and specific reservations. (shrink)
Psychologists and neuroscientists extensively rely on computational models for studying and analyzing the human mind. Traditionally, such computational models have been hand-designed by expert researchers. Two prominent examples are cognitive architectures and Bayesian models of cognition. While the former requires the specification of a fixed set of computational structures and a definition of how these structures interact with each other, the latter necessitates the commitment to a particular prior and a likelihood function which – in combination with Bayes’ rule – (...) determine the model's behavior. In recent years, a new framework has established itself as a promising tool for building models of human cognition: the framework of meta-learning. In contrast to the previously mentioned model classes, meta-learned models acquire their inductive biases from experience, i.e., by repeatedly interacting with an environment. However, a coherent research program around meta-learned models of cognition is still missing to this day. The purpose of this article is to synthesize previous work in this field and establish such a research program. We accomplish this by pointing out that meta-learning can be used to construct Bayes-optimal learning algorithms, allowing us to draw strong connections to the rational analysis of cognition. We then discuss several advantages of the meta-learning framework over traditional methods and reexamine prior work in the context of these new insights. (shrink)
Kurzban and colleagues carry forward an important contemporary movement in cognitive control research, tending away from resource-based models and toward a framework focusing on motivation or value. However, their specific proposal, centering on opportunity costs, appears problematic. We favor a simpler view, according to which the exertion of cognitive control carries intrinsic subjective costs.