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Efficient CognitionThe Evolution of Representational Decision Making$
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Armin W. Schulz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037600

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037600.001.0001

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The Evolution of Cognitive Representational Decision Making

The Evolution of Cognitive Representational Decision Making

(p.85) 5 The Evolution of Cognitive Representational Decision Making
Efficient Cognition

Armin W. Schulz

The MIT Press

This chapter develops a new account of the evolution of cognitive representational decision making—i.e. of decision making that relies on representations about the state of the world. The core idea behind this account is that cognitive representational decision making can—at times—be more cognitively efficient than non-cognitive representational decision making. In particular, cognitive representational decision making, by being able to draw on the inferential resources of higher-level mental states, can enable organisms to adjust more easily to changes in their environment and to streamline their neural decision making machinery (relative to non-representational decision makers). While these cognitive efficiency gains will sometimes be outweighed by the costs of this way of making decisions—i.e. the fact that representational decision making is generally slower and more concentration- and attention-hungry than non-representational decision making—this will not always be the case. Moreover, it is possible to say in more detail which kinds of circumstances will favor the evolution of cognitive representational decision making, and which do not.

Keywords:   cognitive efficiency, neural efficiency, pattern, inference, decision making speed, representational decision making, social intelligence hypothesis

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