Mental functions and cognitive ontologies

cognitive sciences

Daniel Borek


February 24, 2021


March 22, 2023

Mental functions and cognitive ontologies

There is a ongoing discussion in cognitive sciences about cognitive ontologies. 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 Neisser’s Cognitive Psychology book. There was a really interesting discussion in replies to this tweet.

This echoes discussion between two camps, which most famous proponents are currently György Buzsáki 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 sciences 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.