Hello World

Hello World! This is a bimonthly blog about “the brain”, through the lens of computational models of cognition and perception.

Why Box & Arrow Brain?
The earliest “models” of cognition consisted of boxes and arrows. In case you’ve missed them, here are a few examples:

Sternberg, S. (1969). Memory-scanning: Mental processes revealed by reaction-time experiments. American Scientist, 57(4), 421-457.
Meyer, D. E. Schvaneveldt, R. W., & Ruddy, MG (1975). Loci of contextual effects on visual word recognition. Attention and Performance, 98-118.
Meck, W. H., & Church, R. M. (1983). A mode control model of counting and timing processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 9(3), 320.

Box and arrow models are intuitive, easy to draw, and are generally a good starting point for understanding a complex system; however, by modern standards they are horribly imprecise, often relying on implicit (or unclear) theoretical and philosophical commitments. Modern/surviving theories fill in these gaps by formalizing mathematical architectures or explicitly stating “linking functions” (including data analysis assumptions). This is a step in the right direction, but we have by no means reached the finish line.

In this blog, we have two goals:
1) To introduce modern cognitive modeling frameworks via tutorials; and
2) To provide some background and commentary on some of the theoretical and philosophical commitments that often go unmentioned.

We have two contributing authors. As of the inception of this blog:

Richard Lange did some computer science things for a while, then got interested in artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind, but realized nobody really knows how brains work (which would be a good first step), and now studies visual perception in humans and monkeys.

Frank Mollica is a person. He spends far too much time (and yet still not enough) thinking about language, concepts and contexts. Follow him on twitter @FrancisMollica because shameless self-promotion (and new friends/enemies?).