EpistemicEngineers - 11/15/11 Evolu*on primer Cogni*ve...

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Unformatted text preview: 11/15/11 Evolu*on primer Cogni*ve Niche Construc*on •  selec*on on gene*c variability •  differen*al fitness •  changing propor*ons of gene*c pa?erns through *me •  group selec*on –  proper*es and prac*ces of groups can bestow fitness on the en*re group –  This view is controversial in evolu*onary biology Cumula*ve down ­stream epistemic engineering Cogni*ve Niche Construc*on •  Humans construct (and inherit) their own cogni*ve niches •  These set the selec*ve pressures on evolu*on of the brain •  Brain and culture co ­evolve through Mutual Reciprocal Causa*on Engineering the informa*on environment Cultural (non ­gene*c) Inheritance •  Human groups engineer their own habitats •  This includes epistemic (cogni*ve) aspects of the environment •  Unlike genes, engineered habitats are inherited by and engineered by subsequent genera*ons 1 11/15/11 Only humans exhibit… Epistemic engineering is auto ­cataly*c •  •  •  •  cumula*ve run away self ­fueling epistemic engineering •  “Cumula&ve downstream epistemic engineering” Rapidly changing cultural environments select for phenotypic plas*city Developmental Plas*city is key The pace of cultural change •  Rampant niche construc*on •  yields a rapid succession of selec*ve epistemic environments. •  It thus favors… •  the biological evolu*on of phenotypic plas*city. Brain evolved to fit the environment? Sure, but which aspect of the environment? •  Evolu*onary psychology expects the brain to be adapted to a “sta*s*cal composite” of Pleistocene environments. •  Sterelny say no. •  We have adapted to variability and the spread of varia*on itself by becoming more plas*c, more malleable, more adaptable. 2 11/15/11 Changing cultural environments transformed hominid brains Stone ­age Minds in a Space ­age World? •  The same ini*al set of developmental resources •  can differen*ate into quite different final cogni*ve products. •  Changing hominid developmental environments transformed hominid brains themselves. •  As hominids remade their own worlds, they indirectly remade themselves. •  What we are cogni*vely depends both on the evolu*on of the human brain AND on a history of cultural prac*ces. Origins of Theory of Mind Where does our ability to imagine the mental states of others come from? Widen the view of developmental selec*on beyond the child •  Evolved as an innate “folk psychology” module in the brain? •  OR •  An outcome of cogni*ve niche construc*on? 3 11/15/11 If selec*on favors interpre*ve skills •  Selec*on on parents for ac*ons (cultural prac*ces) that scaffold the development of interpre*ve capaci*es •  The offspring of parents who are inclined to engage in these ac*ons are more likely to survive Cultural prac*ces that induce thinking in terms of inten*ons and other mental states Prac*ces recruit individual abili*es A developmental scenario •  Through “intense social scaffolding” •  Basic perceptual abili*es (gaze monitoring, for example) are recruited by the prac*ces of “folk psychology” into ecological assemblies that produce representa*ons of the mental states of others. •  The child is surrounded by exemplars of “mind reading” in ac*on, she is nudged by cultural prac*ces such as the use of simplified narra*ves, prompted by parental rehearsal of her own inten*ons, and provided with a rich palate of linguis*c tools such as words for mental states. Poverty or wealth of s*mulus? •  Incremental environmental engineering provides a “wealth of the s*mulus”. •  There is no need for a specialized “mind reading” or “folk psychology” module. 4 11/15/11 Flexible brains immersed in culturally constructed cogni*ve niches Theory of Mind •  Not wired in a birth •  Acquired through immersion in a rich highly ­ structured, engineered habitat for thought and ac*on. •  This acquisi*on may (almost certainly does) change the organiza*on of the brain. But that is a consequence, not a cause of theory of mind behavior. How humans got to be human •  Much of what is most dis*nc*ve about human cogni*on is rooted in the reliable effects, in developmentally plas*c brains, of immersion in a well ­engineered, cumula*vely constructed, cogni*ve niche. Motor emula*on •  Closed loop control –  *ming not possible for fast fluid ac*on •  Pseudo closed loop control –  have an emula*on of the control loop that produces expected propriocep*ve feedback Motor Emulator Circuits Primal mental representa*ons Motor emula*on running off ­line = mental imagery •  Inhibit motor outputs •  Run the emula*on •  You get an internal version of the en*re loop of ac*on and percep*on •  The imagery could include “mock visual inputs” or, in fact, correlated elements of experience from any sensory or motor mode 5 11/15/11 Outcomes •  The cognizer can imagine absent situa*ons •  Freed from coupling to a dynamic world •  This is an an*dote to the no*on that “the world is its own best model” Remember our empirical ques*ons •  Under what condi*ons will the skills that were learned to subserve the dis*nc*ons required by the language (Slobin, thinking for speaking; Kirby, the underlying “metric”) affect other cogni*ve performances? •  Under what condi*ons will the cultural prac*ces of seeing the world in par*cular ways, whether subserving language or not, be recruited as media*ng resources in a task performance? A research program? •  What processes control the recruitment of resources (assembly process) into cogni*ve func*onal systems? –  The Vygotskian approach implies this ques*on –  Andy Clark makes this ques*on a central theme in his recent book Supersizing the Mind 6 ...
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This note was uploaded on 12/11/2011 for the course COGS 102a taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at UCSD.

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