09-14 Intro to Cog Sci Lecture 4

09-14 Intro to Cog - Introduction to Cognitive Science Lecture 4 Modularity of Mind the underlying ideathe mind is no more homogeneous than is the

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Introduction to Cognitive Science Lecture 4: 9/14/09 Modularity of Mind – the underlying idea…the mind is no more homogeneous than is the body. Just as the body has its organs, so too does the mind have specialized, dissociable parts. o The last few times, we talked about the idea of cognitive architecture and focused last time on where does cognitive architecture come from (nature vs. nurture). o Today, we’ll talk about another fundamental issue of cognitive architecture, i.e. the organization into distinct parts o Carston reading was a pretty good summary of this. The mind is a Swiss army knife. Just as body as organs, so too does mind have specialized, dissociable parts. It’s a pretty uncontroversial idea as most people think it’s more than a piece of meat o Some philosophers think it’s a huge chunk of meat. Ubiquity of Specialization o Molecular: E.g. hemoglobin (oxygen transport) vs. rhodopsin (light trarnsduction) o Anatomical: E.g. the heart (pumping blood) vs. the liver (detoxifying poisons) o Behavioral: PATH INTEGATION IN ANTS - Gallistel reading, where the ant wanders and finds food and wanders STRAIGHT HOME. Gallistel makes the point that the underlying algorithm is a fairly specialized form of learning. The computations that you do for this are different from what you do for other behaviors. o SO WE SHOULD NOT be surprised that we find specialization at all levels. This is because of the problem-space itself. This is because we have to solve so many things. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we have separate molecules for transporting oxygen and light are two distinct problems. Jack of all trades is master of none . This is a critical principle of design. We cannot design a molecule that is just as efficient as doing both. This is because the problems to solve themselves are complicated! Distinct problems demand different solutions. o Same thing for the mind. Specialized systems for specialized tasks! o The modularity of mind is perfectly compatible with all other biology. The Modularity of Mind o The idea comes from philosopher of cognitive science ( Jerry Fodor) . Jerry Fodor is one of the most entertaining writers. Famously at a meeting about neuroscience, he disagreed so strongly about what the author was saying that he charged the podium and took the microphone and said you’re wrong! Defining modularity: symmetric restrictions on information flow 1. Information encapsulation o Processing internal to the module can’t access external information. o This is what drives visual illusions over and over even when you know the trick. ( Table shapes are identical (visual illusion) – same shapes. Interesting processing – we’ll talk about this with Perception. But even after you know that they are the same, they still don’t look like they are the same shape. VISUAL
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09-14 Intro to Cog - Introduction to Cognitive Science Lecture 4 Modularity of Mind the underlying ideathe mind is no more homogeneous than is the

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