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The nature of representation in cognitive control

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posted on 28.03.2022, 13:10 by Dorian Minors
Cognitive control broadly refers to those processes which adaptively coordinate behaviour in service of a goal. To achieve control, the brain must resolve conflicting information and competing cognitive demands, even when doing so runs counter to more dominant, or prepotent impulses. Explaining this property in the context of the brain has long posed a general problem to researchers. Mechanisms of control have been typically posed as intentional processes and are thus subject to anthropomorphism-styled as a brain within the brain. It is difficult to imagine how neural circuits can achieve this. Classical cognitive science has often been criticised for invoking these 'homunculi' to account for control-related processing.Contemporary neuroscientific and computational literature provides an opportunity to resolve these homuncular accounts. Neural network function provides a plausible means of representing information in the brain. Viewed through the lens of network dynamics, certain structural and functional specialisations characterising control-related phenomena can be grounded in neurally plausible properties of the brain. I pay particular attention to how the circuit organisation of the neocortex may contribute to cognitive control mechanisms.I show that such a structurewould achieve a high level of cognitive control as an emergent property of network function, without the need to invoke homuncular mechanisms.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1: Representation in the brain -- Chapter 2: Control in the absence of control representations -- Chapter 3: The anatomy of a control representation -- Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: page 72

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Colin Klein

Additional Supervisor 1

Andrew Barron


Copyright Dorian Minors 2017 Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright




1 online resource (72 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:71748 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1277685