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Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making$
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Peter Hammerstein and Jeffrey R. Stevens

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018081

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018081.001.0001

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Machinery of Cognition

Machinery of Cognition

Chapter:
(p.39) 3 Machinery of Cognition
Source:
Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making
Author(s):

Charles R. Gallistel

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262018081.003.0003

A Darwinian approach to decision-making mechanisms must focus on the representation of the options between which the animal decides. For example, in matching behavior, is the animal deciding between the different locations in which to forage or simply whether to leave its current location? A neurobiologically informed approach must be concerned with the mechanism of representation itself. In the computational theory of mind, options are represented by the symbols that carry information about them forward in time. In conventional computing machines, symbols reside in an addressable read–write memory. Current theorizing about the neurobiological mechanism of memory rejects this form of memory in favor of an associative memory. The problem is that the associative bond—and its neurobiological embodiment, the plastic synapse—is not suited to the function of carrying acquired information forward in time in a computationally accessible form. It is argued that this function is indispensable. Therefore, there must be such a mechanism in neural tissue, most probably realized at the molecular level.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, decision making, cognition, matching behavior, memory, associative memory

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