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Epistemology & Cognition Lab

 

Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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The research in the lab combines philosophical and experimental work. The latter kind is based on philosophical questions (primarily in epistemology) that are decomposed into smaller, more specific behaviourally testable questions.

Purely philosophical questions include:

  1. What is the nature of physical computation as it is conceived in cognitive explanations?
  2. How are physical computational processes individuated?
  3. What is the explanatory role of computation in cognitive explanations?
  4. How should 'information' be understood for it to play its central explanatory role in the cognitive sciences?
  5. If 'information' is understood functionally (i.e., as being receiver-dependent), can it still be scientifically legitimate and objective?
  6. What are the limitations of the ambitious project to explain behaviour, perception, and cognition using the predictive processing framework alone (i.e., the brain as a Bayesian hypothesis tester)?
  7. In what respects are knowledge-that (roughly, knowledge of facts) and knowledge-how (roughly, procedural knowledge) similar and different?
  8. Does knowledge-how amount to skillful knowledge?

Current active experimental projects focus on the relation amongst learning, skill acquisition, and automaticity.

  1. Is cognitive control amenable to automatisation? does it improve (i.e., become faster and more accurately executed) with practice?
  2. Does the mere performance of automatic cognitive processes (e.g, reading words or numbers) improve the performance of other cognitively-controlled tasks (e.g., classification tasks)?
  3. Is such improvement confined to same-domain processing (reading words -> concept classification) or not (reading numbers -> concept classification)?
  4. Can the Stroop effect (as a paradigmatic case of automatic processing) be suppressed over time (e.g., after practicing the same task for several weeks)?
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Most recent publication:

2022. Information in Explaining Cognition: How to Evaluate It?

The claims that “The brain processes information” or “Cognition is information processing” are accepted as truisms in cognitive science. However, it is unclear how to evaluate such claims absent a specification of “information” as it is used by neurocognitive theories. The aim of this article is, thus, to identify the key features of information that information-based neurocognitive theories posit. A systematic identification of these features can reveal the explanatory role that information plays in specific neurocognitive theories, and can, therefore, be both theoretically and practically important. These features can be used, in turn, as desiderata against which candidate theories of information may be evaluated. After discussing some characteristics of explanation in cognitive science and their implications for “information”, three notions are briefly introduced: natural, sensory, and endogenous information. Subsequently, six desiderata are identified and defended based on cognitive scientific practices. The global workspace theory of consciousness is then used as a specific case study that arguably posits either five or six corresponding features of information.