What is cognitive science 4 phases and perspectives

Cognitive science is a body of study about the mind and its processes. It formally originated since the 1950s along with the development of computer operating systems. Currently, it represents one of the areas that most impacted the analysis of different scientific disciplines.

Next, we will see what Cognitive Science is and, from a journey through the history of its development, we will explain which approaches comprise it.

What is cognitive science?

Cognitive Science is a multidisciplinary perspective of the human mind , which can be applied to other information processing systems, as long as they maintain similarities with the laws that govern processing.

In addition to being a body of knowledge with particular characteristics and distinguishable from other bodies of knowledge; Cognitive science is a set of sciences or scientific disciplines. It includes, for example, the philosophy of mind, linguistics, neuroscience, cognitive psychology and studies in artificial intelligence, in addition to some branches of anthropology.

Indeed, Fierro (2011) tells us that it is probably more appropriate to call this science the “cognitive paradigm”; for focusing on the mental, consisting of basic principles, problems and solutions that have impacted scientific activity in different areas .

4 phases and perspectives of cognitive science

Valera (cited by Fierro, 2011) speaks of four main stages in the consolidation of cognitive science : cybernetics, classical cognitivism, connectionism and corporation-enaction. Each of them corresponds to a stage in the development of Cognitive Science, however, none of them has disappeared or been replaced by the next one. These are theoretical approaches that coexist and constantly problematize. Let’s see, following the same author, what is each of them.

1. Cybernetics

Cybernetics develops from 1940 to 1955 and is recognized as the stage in which the main theoretical tools of cognitive science emerged. It coincides with the emergence of the first computers and operating systems, which, in turn, laid the foundations for studies in artificial intelligence. At the same time, different theories about information processing, reasoning and communication are developed .

These operating systems were the first self-organizing systems, that is, they worked based on a series of previously programmed rules. Among other things, these systems and their operation have raised questions central to Cognitive Science. For example, do machines have the ability to think and develop autonomy like human beings?

The impact specifically on psychology was decisive, as the beginning of the 20th century was marked by the predominance of psychoanalysis and behaviorism . The first focuses not so much on understanding “the mind” as “the psyche”; and the second focuses strictly on behavior, so that mental studies were relegated but directly dismissed.

For cognitive science at the time, the interest was not in psychic structure or in observable behavior. In fact, it was not focused on the anatomical structure and functioning of the brain (which will later be recognized as the site where mental processes are generated).

Rather, he was interested in finding systems equivalent to mental activity that would explain and even reproduce . The latter is implemented with the analogy of computational processing, where it is understood that the human mind works through a series of inputs (messages or stimuli received) and outpus (the messages or stimuli generated).

2. Classic Cognitivism

This model is generated by the contributions of different experts, both in computer science and psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics and even economics. Among other things, this period, which corresponds to the mid-1960s, ends up consolidating the previous ideas: all types of intelligence work in a very similar way to computer operating systems .

Thus, the mind was an encoder / decoder of fragments of information, which gave rise to “symbols”, “mental representations” and sequentially organized processes (one first and one later). For this reason, this model is also known as a symbolist, representationalist, or sequential processing model.

In addition to studying the materials on which this is based (the hardware, which would be the brain), it is a question of finding the algorithm that generates them (the software, which would be the mind). From this, the following derives: there is an individual who, automatically following rules, different processes, internally represents and explains information (for example, using different symbols). And there is an environment which, functioning independently of this, can be faithfully represented by the human mind.

However, the latter began to be questioned precisely about how the rules that would lead us to process information were raised. The proposal was that these rules lead us to manipulate a set of symbols in a specific way . Through this manipulation, we generate and present a message to the environment.

But one issue that this model of Cognitive Science ignored was that these symbols mean something; so its mere order works to explain syntactic activity but not semantic activity. Therefore, one could hardly speak of an artificial intelligence endowed with the ability to generate meanings. In any case, your activity would be limited to the logical order of a set of symbols using a pre-programmed algorithm.

Furthermore, if cognitive processes were a sequential system (one thing happens and then another), there were questions about how we performed tasks that required the simultaneous activity of different cognitive processes. All of this will lead to the next steps in cognitive science.

3. Connectionism

This approach is also known as “parallel distributed processing” or “neural network processing”. Among other things (as mentioned in the previous section), this model from the 1970s arises after the classical theory failed to justify the viability of the functioning of the cognitive system in biological terms .

Without abandoning the model of computational architecture of previous periods, what this tradition suggests is that the mind does not really work by sequentially organized symbols; It works by establishing different connections between the components of a complex network.

In this way, it addresses the models of neuronal explanation of human activity and information processing: the mind works through mass interconnections distributed by a network . And it is the connectivity of this real that generates the rapid activation or deactivation of cognitive processes.

In addition to finding syntactic rules that follow, here the processes act in parallel and are distributed quickly to solve a task. Among the classic examples of this approach is the mechanism for recognizing patterns, such as faces.

The difference between this and neuroscience is that the latter tries to discover models of mathematical and computational development of the processes carried out by the brain, human and animal, while connectionism focuses more on studying the consequences of these models for level of information processing and cognitive processes. .

4. Corporation-enation

Given the approaches strongly focused on the individual’s internal rationality, the latter recovers the role of the body in the development of dental processes. It was born in the first half of the 20th century, with the works of Merleau-Ponty in the phenomenology of perception, where it was explained how the body has direct effects on mental activity .

However, in the specific field of cognitive sciences, this paradigm is introduced until the second half of the twentieth century, when some theories proposed that it was possible to modify the mental activity of machines by manipulating their bodies (no longer through a constant input of information). In the latter, it was suggested that intelligent behavior occurred when the machine interacted with the environment , and not precisely because of its symbols and internal representations.

From here, cognitive science began to study body movements and their role in cognitive development and in the construction of the notion of agency, as well as in the acquisition of notions related to time and space. Indeed, child and developmental psychology has begun to pick up on that it had realized how the first mental schemas, originating in childhood, happen after the body interacts with the environment in certain ways.

It is through the body that it is explained that we can generate concepts related to weight (heavy, light), volume or depth, spatial location (above, below, inside, outside) and so on. Finally, it articulates with the theories of action, which propose that cognition is the result of an interaction between the corporate mind and the environment , which is only possible through motor action.

Finally, the extended mind hypotheses , which suggest that mental processes are not only in the individual, much less in the brain, but in the environment itself, are added to this last stream of cognitive science.

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