Dynamics in Cognitive Science

17 Dec 2004 09:10

Since the early 1990s, some people have gotten very excited about the idea that dynamical systems theory can be used to model cognitive processes. As somebody trained in nonlinear dynamics, I applaud this development, since, if successful, it will enhance my material and academic prospects. Sadly, when they do things like purporting to explain decision-making with a low (8) dimensional model with no noise, I grow deeply suspicious. Worse, many of these same people believe that dynamics gives them an account of cognition which is incompatible with traditional models, whether of the (Newell-Simon) symbol-processing or connectionist sort, and in fact one which is fundamentally non-computational. As somebody trained in the symbolic aspects of nonlinear dynamics, and who uses that math to study the intrinsic computation carried out by dynamical systems, I have to wonder what they're talking about.

To do: Find something interesting to say about this by December, when abstracts are due for the Potsdam workshop on Dynamical Systems Approaches to Language and Symbol Grounding. Update, December 2005: Well, I don't know if what I found to say was interesting, but you can read the abstract here.

See also: Artificial Intelligence; Notes on a Lecture on "Origins of an Embodied Cognition: Moving, Perceiving, and Thinking in Infancy"; Philosophy of Mind