Mental functions and cognitive ontologies

There is a recurring discussion going on in Cognitive Science, this time on Twitter. Luiz Pessoa asked about why we divide cognitive functions like attention, memory, executive control the way we did. He tracks it to the beginning of psychology as discipline and influence of William James and later, when the cognitive revolution started, to Ulric Neisserโ€™s Cognitive Psychology book. There is a really interesting discussion below this tweet.

This echoes discussion between two camps, which most famous proponents are currently Gyรถrgy Buzsรกki and David Poeppel. Here is a discussion between them in one of “Brain inspired” episodes.

Maybe I state something trivial, but I think all these terms used in Cognitive Science are a little bit blurry. It allows scientists to escape any clear borders between processes defined by these terms. On the other hand, scientists in a theory are well aware that there is no process in isolation (but this sometimes is much harder to operationalize in practice).

Many different philosophers and neuroscientists told much about this topic. Currently, neuroinformatics could provide some nice tools. Read more in this review by Russell A. Poldrack and Tal Yarkoni.

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