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Auteur: Reza NILIPOUR

Complexity and Cognition in Cognitive Neuroscience

Abstract/Résumé: The major aim of this paper is to present a brain-based model of epistemology for language which is intimately linked to cognition and conscious experience as complex systems. In this model a complex system is viewed as a system with a variety of smaller parts, each of which may be functionally segregated. At the same time smaller parts of a biological complex system are both integrated and differentiated. As these smaller heterogeneous parts interact in various combinations, there is tendency to give rise to system properties that are more integrated. Four major characteristics are considered for a complex system: - Independence - Entropy - Mutual information - Integration The information content of such a system can be expressed by a statistical measure that Edelman refers to it as “neural complexity”. This measure of complexity provides an estimate of the degree to which a unified neural process is differentiated. In a brain-based epistemology a fundamental early mode of thinking that is highly dependent on pattern recognition involves metaphor. Metaphor is a reflection of the range and associativity of enormous complex and degenerate brain networks. Language itself reflects the constructive yet inherently ambiguous and indeterminate aspect of this mode of thought (pattern recognition). In this brain-based epistemology two different modes of thought – logic and pattern recognition – are assumed. Because the brain can function by pattern recognition even prior to language, brain activity can yield what might be called “pre-metaphoric” capabilities. The products of the ensuing metaphorical abilities, while necessarily ambiguous, can be richly creative. But logic cannot be as creative as pattern recognition. A balance between these two modes of thought and the endless richness of their underlying neural substrates can be sampled through conscious experience. In Edelman’s terms, pattern recognition or selectionism is the mistress of our thoughts, but logic is their housekeeper. References 1- Edelman, Gerald M. (1989) The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness (Basic Books, New York 1990). 2- Edelman, Gerald M. and Giulio Tononi (2000) A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, (Basic Books, 2000, Reprint edition 2001). 3- Edelman, Gerald M.(2004) Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness (Yale Univ. Press 2004) 4- Edelman, Gerald M.(2004) Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge (Yale University Press 2006)