The Evolution of Cognition

Panel Presentation:

Bethany Sills and Lauren Feliz

Loyola Marymount University














Cruse, Holk.  (2003).  The Evolution of Cognition--- a hypothesis.  Cognitive Science, 27, 135-155


Summary: The Evolution of Cognition

By Holk Cruse


            Animal and human behavior may be controlled by both reactive and cognitive systems.  Before one can define these two systems, it is necessary to understand the questions of how humans control behavior.  Now and in the past, researchers have extensively stressed their studies on the performance of a behavior or a function controlled by the brain.  In effect, there is less research on decisions the brain makes in order to coordinate the performance of a behavior.  Specifically, there is less research on decisions the brain makes on which function or behavior to perform next.  Of these decisions, there are a considerable number of options of behavior.  These infinite numbers of options of behavior in a given situation is termed, “a high number of extra degrees of freedom (DoF)” (136).  And the ability to cope with a high DoF or with what are referred to as “redundant situations” is called “autonomy”.  

A reactive system was proposed as a possible construction for autonomous abilities.  A reactive system is a behavior-based system that responds to sensory-input in a variety of different ways.  Reactive systems usually deal with a stimulus that occurs in the present (for example: an involuntary motor reaction).  The cognitive system, on the other hand, deals with thinking and planning ahead.  A cognitive system must have a kind-of- internal model of the world in order to manipulate potential behavioral reactions in the mind.  Accordingly, there may be two types of internal model representations.  One, as described above, is passive (otherwise apart of the reactive system).  The passive representation is a kind of “look-up-table”.  In this representation, a specific stimulus elicits a specific response.  The second type of internal model representation is called “dynamic” or “manipulable representation.  This cognitive representation can find potentially new solutions to given problems. 

Internal models must exist if the body is able to physically, psychologically and emotionally adapt to its surroundings.  Internal world models exist not only to decipher motor input, but also to deal with perceptual tasks.  An example of a kind of internal world model might be a body model.  An internal body model would be a way for the mind to be able to cope with built-in bodily constraints and external constraints.  The internal body model has the ability to assess all geometrically possibilities for a given situation and then selects one. 

            MMC stands for the mean of multiple computation.  MCC is a model of a “recurrent network, which relaxes in order to adopt a stable state.  The stable state corresponds to a geometrically correct solution”(140).  In other words, MCC is a cognitive basis for which humans imagine the movements of their mental body.  The MCC model shows how the brain can have knowledge concerning the awareness of one’s body in present and future space.  According to the MCC model, two kinds of situations can result upon the presence of a stimulus.  One is called continuous decision space, which has to do with deliberate bodily control and the other is called discrete decision space, which has to do with fight or flight situations.  The MCC-like structure may correspond to the basis of a perceptual system.  This can be argued because specific neurons are activated before an individual is about to perform an action.  Thus the MCC model shows how perception and motor skills are neurologically connected.

            Humans have evolved an HIP (have an internal perspective) vs. NIP (not having an internal perspective).  An internal perspective is the individual experience of an individual’s subjective world.  The internal perspective corresponds to consciousness, because the individual is able to perceive and reflect on he world (environment) around them.  The internal perspective of the brain relies on an individual’s unique subjective experience.  Subjective experience “does not reflect our direct sensory input, but relies on the content of a construct” (147).  Thus, every human being has their own distinctive experience of how they perceive and register the world around them.

In conclusion, a human’s cognitive system might be regarded as a special form of a reactive system.  Humans have developed the ability to neurologically perceive the world around them, through an internal perspective.  



































The Evolution of Cognition

By Holk Cruse


I.                    Introduction

a.      Two problems when observing what controls behavior

                                                               i.      Performance of specific behavior

                                                             ii.      Decision of which behavior to perform next; problem of the selection of action

                                                            iii.      The degrees of freedom (DoF) varies according to specific behaviors

II.                 Reactive Systems

a.      At first, it was determined that there was internal, symbol-based, world model to make decisions

                                                               i.      Too slow and too inflexible

b.      Sensory driven control of behavior – reactionary

                                                               i.      Can lead to a considerable degree of autonomy

                                                             ii.      Decentralized architecture

1.      Using restricted cooperation of different modules

                                                            iii.      Computation of environmental changes by the embodiment and situatedness

                                                           iv.      “Internal states” (given sensory input) help motivation states and decision making

                                                             v.      Like Hobbian learning/ reinforcement principles which can lead to more adaptive measures and thus more DoF, thus more autonomy

III.               Cognitive Systems

a.      Non-reactive structures

                                                               i.      Thinking and planning ahead, hence they are cognitive processes

                                                             ii.      Representative of the properties of the world

1.      Internal model is required for this

a.       Passive

                                                                                                                                       i.      Static, lexicon-like memory

                                                                                                                                     ii.      a.k.a context-world dependent because a particular behavior can only be elicited through a particular context and by a particular stimulating situation, i.e. a specific response

b.      “Dynamic”/ “manipulated world model

                                                                                                                                       i.      Memory to “play around with” to test different and new combinations of stored representative elements with the goal to find a new solution to a given problem

1.      Context free

2.      Manipulation of information

                                                            iii.      Nearest and most important outside world seen from “brain’s view” which is the own body

1.      Internal body model

a.       dfs that are arranged in a parallel fashion to what body is like

b.      dfs arranged in a serial order

                                                                                                                                       i.      Number of dfs can be reduced by fixed synergies (still reactive)

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Number of dfs can be reduced through introduction of cost function—vary by task (still reactive)

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Both are fast, but not flexible

                                                           iv.      A pure reactive system is not enough because it needs more flexibility and a more complicated system

1.      Internal body module makes sense

2.      Also needed for perceptual tasks

b.      These are neural network models—MMC (mean of multi- computation)

                                                               i.      Consists of a receiver network, which relaxes to adopt a stable state corresponding to a geometrical correct solution even when the input cannot fully constrain the situation.

IV.              Planning

a.      The neural model can do two things

                                                               i.      Move

                                                             ii.      Imagine/ plan movement

b.      This is due to the internal representation of the body and the world

c.      This MMC neural network can serve as the circuit through which motor performance, motor imaging, and motor planning occurs

d.      MMC can be used for the manipulation of knowledge and can configure different possible solutions until it finds one for a given task. (this is the basis of cognition)

                                                               i.      Decisions

1.      Continuous decision space as with movement

2.      Discrete decision space as with fight or flight

a.       Deliberate process

                                                                                                                                       i.      Discrete does not seem to be possible due to it’s after-the-fact descriptions

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Actual neural activity has to be performed in a continuous situation

                                                             ii.      MMC is a holistic approach, possibly located in the nasal ganglia, posterior parietal cortex, cerebellum, motor cortices

                                                            iii.      Perception is based in the same systems as consciousness

V.                 Internal perspective

a.      First person view point; distinction is not immediately observed because very tied to one’s view of self; subjective experience

                                                               i.      Doesn’t have to reflect our direct sensory input

                                                             ii.      Relies on content of a construct (mental) which then forms a subjective world model

b.      Accessible to only persons/individuals with experience

c.      Core consciousness

                                                               i.      Comes in a pulse-like fashion

                                                             ii.      Three states in time

1.      Initial state which corresponds to an actual state

2.      Arrival of another object (input)

3.      Reaction which results in a modified state of being (subjective experience)

d.      Holistic model which is parallel to the MMC and state of perception

VI.              Conclusion