View Single Post
Old 01-27-2018, 04:58 PM
wolfpup's Avatar
wolfpup is offline
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 11,228
Originally Posted by RaftPeople View Post
Not following this point, seems like it's all computation. Can you expand on this point for clarification?
The brain is "all computation" in the trivial sense of electrochemical signaling. No one disputes that the brain is a mechanistic physical device, but that has never been a question in any creditable field of study. In the actually interesting and formal meaning of computation in computer science and cognition, the essence of computation -- the essence of how computers interpret the world -- is that algorithms perform syntactic operations on abstract symbolic representations, and thereby computationally derive the semantics of how they understand the world.

One of the key questions in cognitive science, and specifically in the computational theory of mind (CTM), is the extent to which mental processes are, in fact, computational. There is strong evidence that some are, and also evidence that many are not or that we just don't know how to characterize them that way.

CTM is a strong theory but no one pretends that it's a complete explanation of how the mind works, much less that it can all be described in terms of classic computation. Mental imagery is a good example of some of the controversy. Do we process images according to this computational syntactic-representational model, or do we have an internalized mental "movie screen" on which we project remembered images? There's evidence for both theories. Some have shown that the visual cortex is involved in such recollections of mental imagery, while others provide evidence of the former (for instance, a priori knowledge influences the interpretation of mental images, making them immune to things like the Muller-Lyer illusion). CTM remains an important pillar of cognitive science but the computational nature of the mind remains controversial and elusive.