In this paper we address a number of issues concerning how the modular structure of the human cortex arises. In contrast to the prevailing view that these modules are prespecified, we discuss evidence from developmental neurobiology that this specificity emerges through activity-dependent processes during pre and postnatal development. We present some examples of this process with data from human infants, and illustrate some of the mechanisms involved with neural network simulations.
This paper discusses alternatives to the nativist claim that domain-specific knowledge is hardwired in the human genome and to the empiricist claim that the human mind is an equipotential general problem solver. In contrast to these views, the paper presents an emergentist-constructivist view of the mind/brain and argues that development itself is the clue to understanding the human representational system. Using certain connectionist perspectives the paper argues that the interaction between, on the one hand, computational, architectural and timing constraints and, on the other, domain-specific structures of environmental input, can explain how domain-specific specialisation of the brain emerges from the developmental process itself. The second part of the paper goes beyond infancy and addresses the issue of flexibility and how representational change also emerges from developmental processes. It presents two brief examples—one from spatial cognition, the other from language—to argue that the child's brain undergoes a process of representational redescription whereby knowledge that is in the cognitive system becomes knowledge to the cognitive system, thereby making possible flexibility and creativity.
Children's ability to modify their drawing procedures changes in their first decade. Young children make size/shape changes and end-of-sequence insertions/deletions of drawing elements. Older children also make middle-of-sequence insertions/deletions and position/orientation changes in drawing elements. Why do modifications occur in this order? We argue that older children's modifications require processing ternary relations, which according to a relational complexity theory, is beyond the working memory capacity of young children.
In this paper we start by reviewing some recent research on feature creation and change of representation in analogy, metaphor and categorization. We then proceed to address some fundamental questions raised by the phenomenon of feature creation such as how can the process of feature creation be ‘creative’ and yet be ‘constrained’. We do so in a framework of the interaction view of cognition proposed in our earlier research. The key features of this framework include an explicit recognition of the vertical dimension in cognitive interaction (resulting in a multilayer model of cognition), a distinction between the ontology and the structure of a representation, and the top-down and bottom-up mechanisms of projection and accommodation for building representations. In this model, both the cognitive agent and the objective environment are allowed to play a role in converting a set of stimuli into a representation. Using this model, we show, with some examples, how projection and accommodation can create features. Finally, we analyze the implications of our model, and point out future research problems.
This study shows some effects of verbalization on acquiring an abstract and flexible representation of how to solve a simple, well-formed puzzle. Subjects were either required to think-aloud or to keep silent while solving the five-disk Tower of Hanoi problem four consecutive times. On a transfer task of the eight-disk Tower of Hanoi problem, the subjects who had verbalized during the five-disk trials showed a stronger tendency to flexibly apply their abstracted understanding of the recursive structure of the problem. It was observed that during the verbalization the subjects commented rather freely on illegal moves like wanting to move the biggest disk under several other disks to the goal peg, or to move several disks as a pyramid to a different peg, both of which could have played important roles for helping the subjects acquire the abstract recursive structure. Some details are given for how concrete strategies emerged during the four verbalization trials, possibly leading to the observed representational change.
Research on insight has accumulated empirical evidence on its cognitive processes. However, there is little agreement on what problem-solvers learn from their initial failures and at what point an insight actually takes place. To explore these issues, we first propose a general framework that involves three constraints, object-level, relational, and goal. The object-level and relational constraints represent people's natural preferences of how objects and relations in a given problem are represented. The goal constraint evaluates a degree of match of the current state to the goal, and leads problem-solvers to select specific combinations of the representations of objects and relations. In the processes of insight, these constraints operate simultaneously and are gradually relaxed by repeated impasses. Using a geometric puzzle problem, we empirically tested hypotheses derived from the framework. Experimental results revealed that the initial persistence in a wrong approach could be explained by the object-level and goal constraints, and that subjects could reach an insight by relaxing the object-level constraints as well as allowing easy operation of goal constraints.
The “laws” in science are not the relations established by only the objective features of the nature. They have to be consistent with the assumptions and the operations in the process where we identify these relations, and also they have to be comprehensive for us and usable in the analysis of the nature. The objectives of this paper are to discuss a mathematical foundation of measurement in terms of representational change, to provide extended characterization of scientific laws based on the foundation, and to propose a method to discover the laws. First, the conditions of a “scientific law” that must hold among measured quantities are analyzed. Second, the axiomatic foundation of measurement processes and cognitive scales of feature quantities are discussed. Third, the strong constraints on the admissible formulae of the laws are shown on the basis of the foundation. Forth, a method is proposed to discover laws by successively composing the constraints that are derived from the required conditions and the experimental data. Finally, the validity and the performance of the method are demonstrated and evaluated through computer simulations.
The question whether neural activities in the brain can be correlated with conscious action is as old as brain research itself. Even in view of the remarkable progress of neuroscience in recent years, the question is far from being settled. The difficulties arise from the fact that the qualia of consciousness connected with thoughts, emotions, free decisions, can hardly be reconciled with the concept of a causal, computer-like neural net. A new and intriguing view of the relation between brain and consciousness arises, however, if quantum processes play a decisive role in brain activity. The quantum state reduction, or selection of amplitudes, offers a doorway for a new logic, the quantum logic, with its unpredictability for a single event. Brain activity consists of a constant firing of neural cells, regulated by synaptic switches which establish the connections between neurons. Conscious action, e.g. intention, is a dynamical process which forms temporal patterns in some areas of the brain. We discuss how synaptic activity in the form of exocytosis of transmitter molecules can be regulated effectively by a quantum trigger based on an electron transfer process in the synaptic membrane. Conscious action is hereby essentially related to quantum state reduction.
It is known that infants prefer looking at novel objects, while adults prefer familiar objects. The point is that preference for the objects may depend, to some extent, on whether or not the objects were experienced. This may indicate the relationship between preferential behavior and memory. Our previous study, where we conducted in four-year-olds a visual-visual intramodal preference task and a recognition task, revealed that the children who had lower scores in the recognition task preferred the novel stimuli, and the children who had higher scores preferred the familiar stimuli (Uehara & Shimojo, 1996a). However, infants were said to prefer looking at the familiar stimuli which they had experienced orally. To examine the influence of the change of modalities on the relationship between preference and memory in four-year-olds, I employed tactile-visual preference and recognition tests. The results revealed that the subjects who recognized the objects preferred the familiar objects and the subjects who failed to recognize them preferred the novel. Although there was a possibility that the subject felt having experienced the object because the subject preferred it or vice versa, the present study demonstrated new results.