In recent years, scientists have increasingly taken to investigate the predictive nature of cognition. We argue that prediction relies on abstraction, and thus theories of predictive cognition need an explicit theory of abstract representation. We propose such a theory of the abstract representational capacities that allow humans to transcend the “here-and-now.” Consistent with the predictive cognition literature, we suggest that the representational substrates of the mind are built as ahierarchy, ranging from the concrete to the abstract; however, we argue that (...) there are qualitative differences between elements along this hierarchy, generating meaningful, often unacknowledged,diversity.Echoing views from philosophy, we suggest that the representational hierarchy can be parsed into:modality-specificrepresentations, instantiated on perceptual similarity;multimodalrepresentations, instantiated primarily on the discovery of spatiotemporal contiguity; andcategoricalrepresentations, instantiated primarily on social interaction. These elements serve as the building blocks ofcomplex structures discussed in cognitive psychology (e.g., episodes, scripts) and are the inputs for mental representations that behave like functions, typically discussed in linguistics (i.e.,predicators). We support our argument for representational diversity by explaining how the elements in our ontology are all required to account for humans’ predictive cognition (e.g., in subserving logic-based prediction; in optimizing the trade-off between accurate and detailed predictions) and by examining how the neuroscientific evidence coheres with our account. In doing so, we provide a testable model of the neural bases of conceptual cognition and highlight several important implications to research on self-projection, reinforcement learning, and predictive-processing models of psychopathology. (shrink)
The commentaries address our view of abstraction, our ontology of abstract entities, and our account of predictive cognition as relying on relatively concrete simulation or relatively abstract theory-based inference. These responses revisit classic questions concerning mental representation and abstraction in the context of current models of predictive cognition. The counter arguments to our article echo: constructivist theories of knowledge, “neat” approaches in artificial intelligence and decision theory, neo-empiricist models of concepts, and externalist views of cognition. We offer several empirical predictions (...) that address points of contention and that highlight the generative potential of our model. (shrink)
The present study was motivated by the hypothesis that inputs from internal states in obsessive–compulsive individuals are attenuated, which could be one source of the pervasive doubting and checking in OCD. Participants who were high or low in OC tendencies were asked to produce specific levels of muscle tension with and without biofeedback, and their accuracy in producing the required muscle tension levels was assessed. As predicted, high OC participants performed more poorly than low OC participants on this task when (...) biofeedback was not available. When biofeedback was provided, the difference between the groups was eliminated, and withdrawing the monitor again reversed this effect. Finally, when given the opportunity, high OC participants were more likely than low OC participants to request biofeedback. These results suggest that doubt in OCD may be grounded in a real and general deficiency in accessing internal states. (shrink)
According to Lee and Schwarz, the sensorimotor experience of cleansing involves separating one physical entity from another and grounds mental separation of one psychological entity from another. We propose that cleansing effects may result from symbolic cognition. Instead of viewing abstract meanings as emerging from concrete physical acts of cleansing, this physical act may be appended with pre-existing, symbolic meaning.
The present studies were motivated by the hypothesis that attenuated access to internal states in obsessive-compulsive (OC) individuals, which leads to extensive reliance on external proxies, may manifest in a maximizing decision making style, i.e., to seeking the best option through an exhaustive search of all existing alternatives. Following previous research, we aimed to explore the possible relationships between OC tendencies, seeking proxies for internal states, indecisiveness and maximization. In Study 1, we measured levels of OC tendencies, seeking proxies for (...) internal states, indecisiveness, maximization, depression and anxiety in an online Hebrew speaking sample (N = 201). In Study 2, we administrated the same questionnaires to an online English speaking sample (N = 240) and in addition, examined participants’ decision making strategies in a hypothetical situation. The participants in both studies were unscreened adults. Correlational and linear regressions analyses indicated that OC tendencies are related to maximization, even when levels of indecisiveness, depression and anxiety are controlled for. Moreover, the findings suggested that reliance on external proxies may partially account for the aforementioned association. Possible implications and future directions are discussed. (shrink)