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Cognitive models focus on information and the computational manipulation of information. Rational models optimize the function that relates the input of a process to the output. In contrast, efficient algorithms minimize the computational cost of processing in terms of time. Minimizing time is a better criterion for normative models, because it reflects the energy costs of a physical system.
In order to develop sophisticated models of the core domains of knowledge that support complex cognitive processing in infants and children, developmental psychologists have mapped out the content of these knowledge domains. This research strategy may provide a blueprint for advancing research on adult cognitive processing. I illustrate this suggestion with examples from analogical reasoning and decision making.
Machery argues that concepts are too heterogeneous to be a natural kind. I argue that the book does not go far enough. Theories of concepts assume that the task of categorizing warrants a unique set of cognitive constructs. Instead, cognitive science must look across tasks to find a fundamental set of cognitive mechanisms.
The Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST; Heaton, 1980) is commonly used to assess concept formation and set shifting. Cognitive research suggests that set shifting performance is enhanced by a match between a person’s regulatory focus (promotion focus: attempting to earn an entry into a cash drawing; prevention focus: attempting to avoid losing an entry into the drawing) and the task reward structure (gains: attempting to maximize points gained; losses: attempting to minimize points lost). A regulatory match results when attempting to earn an entry by maximizing points or attempting to avoid losing an entry by minimizing losses. We test the hypothesis that performance on a modified WCST is accentuated in younger, healthy participants when there is a match between the global performance incentive and the local task reward structure. As predicted, participants in a match showed better set shifting but equivalent initial concept formation when compared with participants in a mismatch. Furthermore, relative to a baseline control group, mismatch participants were significantly worse at set shifting than were participants in a regulatory match. These results suggest that set shifting performance might be impacted by incentive and task reward factors in ways that have not been considered previously. (JINS, 2010, 16, 352–359.)
It is important to take a developmental approach to the problem of analogy. One limitation of this approach, however, is that it does not deal with the complexity of making analogical inferences. There are a few key principles of analogical inference that are not well captured by the analogical relational priming (ARP) model.
Relational representation abilities are a crucial cognitive difference between human and nonhuman animals. We argue that relational reasoning and representation supports the development of culture that increases in complexity. Thus, these abilities are a force that magnifies the apparent difference in cognitive abilities between humans and nonhumans.
There are two roadblocks to using game theory as a unified theory of the behavioral sciences. First, there may not be a single explanatory framework suitable for explaining psychological processing. Second, even if there is such a framework, game theory is too limited, because it focuses selectively on decision making to the exclusion of other crucial cognitive processes.
Different aspects of people's interactions with money are best conceptualized using the drug and tool theories. The key question is when these models of money are most likely to guide behavior. We suggest that the Drug Theory characterizes motivationally active uses of money and that the Tool Theory characterizes behavior in motivationally cool situations.
Tests of economic theory often focus on choice outcomes and find significant individual differences in these outcomes. This variability may mask universal psychological processes that lead to different choices because of differences across cultures in the information people have available when making decisions. On this view, decision making research within and across cultures must focus on the processes underlying choice.
Pothos suggests dispensing with the distinction between rules and similarity, without defining what is meant by either term. We agree that there are problems with the distinction between rules and similarity, but believe these will be solved only by exploring the representations and processes underlying cases purported to involve rules and similarity.
Pickering & Garrod (P&G) suggest that communicators synchronize their processing at a number of linguistic levels. Whereas their explanation suggests that representations are being compared across individuals, there must be some representation of all conversation participants in each participant's head. At the level of the situation model, it is important to maintain separate representations for each participant. At other levels, it seems less crucial to have a separate representation for each participant. This analysis suggests that different mechanisms may synchronize representations at different linguistic levels.
The target article suggests that many practices of experimental economists are preferable to those used by psychologists studying judgment and decision making. The advantages of the psychological approach become clear when the focus of research shifts from choice output to choice processes. I illustrate this point with an example from research on similarity comparisons.
The proposed model is put forward as a template for the dynamical systems approach to embodied cognition. In order to extend this view to cognitive processing in general, however, two limitations must be overcome. First, it must be demonstrated that sensorimotor coordination of the type evident in the A-not-B error is typical of other aspects of cognition. Second, the explanatory utility of dynamical systems models must be clarified.
The perceptual symbol system view assumes that perceptual
representations have a role-argument structure. A role-argument
structure is often incorporated into amodal symbol systems in order
to explain conceptual functions like abstraction and rule use. The power
of perceptual symbol systems to support conceptual functions is likewise
rooted in its use of structure. On Barsalou's account, this
capacity to use structure (in the form of frames) must be
We argue that the dynamical and computational hypotheses
are compatible and in fact need each other: they are about different
aspects of cognition. However, only computationalism is about the
information-processing aspect. We then argue that any form of
information processing relying on matching and comparing, as
cognition does, must use discrete representations and computations
defined over them.
Multidimensional space representations like those posited
in Edelman's target article are not sufficient to capture all similarity phenomena. We discuss phenomena that are compatible
with models of similarity that assume structured relational
representations. An adequate model of similarity and perception
will require multiple approaches to representation.
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