The past 25 years have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of cognitive control in the regulation of complex behavior. It now sits alongside attention, memory, language, and thinking as a distinct domain within cognitive psychology. At the same time it permeates each of these sibling domains. This introduction reviews recent work on cognitive control in an attempt to provide a context for the fundamental question addressed within this topic: Is cognitive control to be understood as resulting from the (...) interaction of multiple distinct control processes, or are the phenomena of cognitive control emergent? (shrink)
Thirty years after the publication of Marr's seminal book Vision the papers in this topic consider the contemporary status of his influential conception of three distinct levels of analysis for information-processing systems, and in particular the role of the algorithmic and representational level with its cognitive-level concepts. This level has been downplayed or eliminated both by reductionist neuroscience approaches from below that seek to account for behavior from the implementation level and by Bayesian approaches from above that seek to account (...) for behavior in purely computational-level terms. (shrink)
The development of analogical reasoning has traditionally been understood in terms of theories of adult competence. This approach emphasizes structured representations and structure mapping. In contrast, we argue that by taking a developmental perspective, analogical reasoning can be viewed as the product of a substantially different cognitive ability – relational priming. To illustrate this, we present a computational (here connectionist) account where analogy arises gradually as a by-product of pattern completion in a recurrent network. Initial exposure to a situation primes (...) a relation that can then be applied to a novel situation to make an analogy. Relations are represented as transformations between states. The network exhibits behaviors consistent with a broad range of key phenomena from the developmental literature, lending support to the appropriateness of this approach (using low-level cognitive mechanisms) for investigating a domain that has normally been the preserve of high-level models. Furthermore, we present an additional simulation that integrates the relational priming mechanism with deliberative controlled use of inhibition to demonstrate how the framework can be extended to complex analogical reasoning, such as the data from explicit mapping studies in the literature on adults. This account highlights how taking a developmental perspective constrains the theory construction and cognitive modeling processes in a way that differs substantially from that based purely on adult studies, and illustrates how a putative complex cognitive skill can emerge out of a simple mechanism. (shrink)
Human control of action in routine situations involves a flexible interplay between (a) task-dependent serial ordering constraints; (b) top-down, or intentional, control processes; and (c) bottom-up, or environmentally triggered, affordances. In addition, the interaction between these influences is modulated by learning mechanisms that, over time, appear to reduce the need for top-down control processes while still allowing those processes to intervene at any point if necessary or if desired. We present a model of the acquisition and control of goal-directed action (...) that goes beyond existing models by operationalizing an interface between two putative systems—a routine and a non-routine system—thereby demonstrating how explicitly represented goals can interact with the emergent task representations that develop through learning in the routine system. The gradual emergence of task representations offers an explanation for the transfer of control with experience from the non-routine goal-based system to the routine system. At the same time it allows action selection to be sensitive both to environmental triggers and to biasing from multiple levels within the goal system. (shrink)
We consider approaches to explanation within the cognitive sciences that begin with Marr's computational level or Marr's implementational level and argue that each is subject to fundamental limitations which impair their ability to provide adequate explanations of cognitive phenomena. For this reason, it is argued, explanation cannot proceed at either level without tight coupling to the algorithmic and representation level. Even at this level, however, we argue that additional constraints relating to the decomposition of the cognitive system into a set (...) of interacting subfunctions are required. Integrated cognitive architectures that permit abstract specification of the functions of components and that make contact with the neural level provide a powerful bridge for linking the algorithmic and representational level to both the computational level and the implementational level. (shrink)
We discuss the development of cognitive neuroscience in terms of the tension between the greater sophistication in cognitive concepts and methods of the cognitive sciences and the increasing power of more standard biological approaches to understanding brain structure and function. There have been major technological developments in brain imaging and advances in simulation, but there have also been shifts in emphasis, with topics such as thinking, consciousness, and social cognition becoming fashionable within the brain sciences. The discipline has great promise (...) in terms of applications to mental health and education, provided it does not abandon the cognitive perspective and succumb to reductionism. (shrink)
Cognitive architectures - task-general theories of the structure and function of the complete cognitive system - are sometimes argued to be more akin to frameworks or belief systems than scientific theories. The argument stems from the apparent non-falsifiability of existing cognitive architectures. Newell was aware of this criticism and argued that architectures should be viewed not as theories subject to Popperian falsification, but rather as Lakatosian research programs based on cumulative growth. Newell's argument is undermined because he failed to demonstrate (...) that the development of Soar, his own candidate architecture, adhered to Lakatosian principles. This paper presents detailed case studies of the development of two cognitive architectures, Soar and ACT-R, from a Lakatosian perspective. It is demonstrated that both are broadly Lakatosian, but that in both cases there have been theoretical progressions that, according to Lakatosian criteria, are pseudo-scientific. Thus, Newell's defense of Soar as a scientific rather than pseudo-scientific theory is not supported in practice. The ACT series of architectures has fewer pseudo-scientific progressions than Soar, but it too is vulnerable to accusations of pseudo-science. From this analysis, it is argued that successive versions of theories of the human cognitive architecture must explicitly address five questions to maintain scientific credibility. (shrink)
Automatic imitation or “imitative compatibility” is thought to be mediated by the mirror neuron system and to be a laboratory model of the motor mimicry that occurs spontaneously in naturalistic social interaction. Imitative compatibility and spatial compatibility effects are known to depend on different stimulus dimensions—body movement topography and relative spatial position. However, it is not yet clear whether these two types of stimulus–response compatibility effect are mediated by the same or different cognitive processes. We present an interactive activation model (...) of imitative and spatial compatibility, based on a dual-route architecture, which substantiates the view they are mediated by processes of the same kind. The model, which is in many ways a standard application of the interactive activation approach, simulates all key results of a recent study by Catmur and Heyes (2011). Specifically, it captures the difference in the relative size of imitative and spatial compatibility effects; the lack of interaction when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; the relative speed of responses in a quintile analysis when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; and the different time courses of the compatibility effects when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented asynchronously. (shrink)
Simple heuristics are clearly powerful tools for making near optimal decisions, but evidence for their use in specific situations is weak. Gigerenzer et al. (1999) suggest a range of heuristics, but fail to address the question of which environmental or task cues might prompt the use of any specific heuristic. This failure compromises the falsifiability of the fast and frugal approach.
Blokpoel reminds us of the importance of consistency of function across Marr's levels, but we argue that the approach to ensuring consistency that he advocates—a strict relation through exact implementation of the higher level function at the lower level—is unnecessarily restrictive. We show that it forces overcomplication of the computational level and results in the sacrifice of the distinct responsibilities associated with each level. We propose an alternative, no less rigorous, potential characterization of the relation between levels.
It is widely mooted that a plausible computational cognitive model should involve both symbolic and connectionist components. However, sound principles for combining these components within a hybrid system are currently lacking; the design of such systems is oftenad hoc. In an attempt to ameliorate this we provide a framework of types of hybrid systems and constraints therein, within which to explore the issues. In particular, we suggest the use of system independent constraints, whose source lies in general considerations about cognitive (...) systems, rather than in particular technological or task-based considerations. We illustrate this through a detailed examination of an interruptibility constraint: handling interruptions is a fundamental facet of cognition in a dynamic world. Aspects of interruptions are delineated, as are their precise expression in symbolic and connectionist systems. We illustrate the interaction of the various constraints from interruptibility in the different types of hybrid systems. The picture that emerges of the relationship between the connectionist and the symbolic within a hybrid system provides for sufficient flexibility and complexity to suggest interesting general implications for cognition, thus vindicating the utility of the framework. (shrink)
Thomas & Karmiloff- Smith correctly identify Residual Normality as a critical assumption of some theorising about mental structure within developmental psychology. However, their simulations provide only weak support for the conditions under which RN may occur because they explore closely related architectures that share a learning algorithm. It is suggested that more work is required to establish the limits of RN.
The scientific understanding of common chronic disease began in the mid-19th century, driven in large part by the development of the modern autopsy. For cardiovascular disease, the recognition that rigid plaques were obstructing muscular arteries, especially in the coronary arteries, provided a mechanism to explain what had been a mysterious "chest pain–sudden collapse" syndrome. The origin of these plaques was totally obscure, however, and they were given the descriptive name of "atherosclerosis," or "hardened porridge" in Greek. Not until 50 years (...) later, when animal experimental models serendipitously revealed the hyper-lipidemic consequences of a diet high in animal fat, followed by accretion of lipid... (shrink)
Van Gelder presents the dynamical hypothesis as a novel law of qualitative structure to compete with Newell and Simon's (1976) physical symbol systems hypothesis. Unlike Newell and Simon's hypothesis, the dynamical hypothesis fails to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for cognition. Furthermore, imprecision in the statement of the dynamical hypothesis renders it unfalsifiable.
In this response, we reiterate the importance of development (both ontogenetic and phylogenetic) in the understanding of a complex cognitive skill – analogical reasoning. Four key questions structure the response: Does relational priming exist, and is it sufficient for analogy? What do we mean by relations as transformations? Could all or any relations be represented as transformations? And what about the challenge of more complex analogies? In addressing these questions we bring together a number of supportive commentaries, strengthening our emergentist (...) case for analogy (in particular with insights from comparative psychology), and review new supportive evidence. We also rebut those commentaries that ignore development at their peril. Along the way, we revisit the main assumptions underlying the analogy as relational priming (ARP) account of analogy, clarifying and elaborating as necessary. (shrink)
A critical aspect of much human behaviour is the generation and regulation of sequential activities. Such behaviour is seen in both naturalistic settings such as routine action and language production and laboratory tasks such as serial recall and many reaction time experiments. There are a variety of computational mechanisms that may support the generation and regulation of sequential behaviours, ranging from those underlying Turing machines to those employed by recurrent connectionist networks. This paper surveys a range of such mechanisms, together (...) with a range of empirical phenomena related to human sequential behaviour. It is argued that the empirical phenomena pose difficulties for most sequencing mechanisms, but that converging evidence from behavioural flexibility, error data arising from when the system is stressed or when it is damaged following brain injury, and between-trial effects in reaction time tasks, point to a hybrid symbolic activation-based mechanism for the generation and regulation of sequential behaviour. Some implications of this view for the nature of mental computation are highlighted. (shrink)