The Continuity of Mind

The Continuity of Mind

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Description

The cognitive and neural sciences have been on the brink of a paradigm shift for over a decade. The traditional information-processing framework in psychology, with its computer metaphor of the mind, is still considered to be the mainstream approach, but dynamical-systems accounts of mental activity are now receiving a more rigorous treatment, allowing them to move beyond merely brandishing trendy buzzwords. The Continuity of Mind will help to galvanize the forces of dynamical systems theory, cognitive and computational neuroscience, connectionism, and ecological psychology that are needed to complete this paradigm shift. In The Continuity of Mind Michael Spivey lays bare the fact that comprehending a spoken sentence, understanding a visual scene, or just thinking about the day's events involves the serial coalescing of different neuronal activation patterns, i.e. a state-space trajectory that flirts with a series of point attractors. As a result, the brain cannot help but spend most of its time instantiating patterns of activity that are in between identifiable mental states rather than in them.When this scenario is combined with the fact that most cognitive processes are richly embedded in their environmental context in real time, the state space (in which brief visitations of attractor basins are your thoughts) suddenly encompasses not just neuronal dimensions, but extends to biomechanical and environmental dimensions as well. As a result, your moment-by-moment experience of the world around you, even right now, can be described as a continuous trajectory through a high-dimensional state space that is comprised of diverse mental states. Spivey has arranged The Continuity of Mind to present a systematic overview of how perception, cognition, and action are partially overlapping segments of one continuous mental flow, rather than three distinct mental systems. The initial chapters provide empirical demonstrations of the grey areas in mental activity that happen in between discretely labeled mental events, as well as geometric visualizations of attractors in state space that make the dynamical-systems framework seem less mathematically abstract.The middle chapters present scores of behavioural and neurophysiological studies that portray the continuous temporal dynamics inherent in categorisation, language comprehension, visual perception, as well as attention, action, and reasoning. The final chapters conclude with discussions of what the mind itself must look like if its activity is continuous in time and its contents are distributed in state space.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 443 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 25mm | 761g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous line illustrations and graphs
  • 0195170784
  • 9780195170788

Table of contents

1. Toward a Continuity Psychology; 2. Some Conceptual Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories; 3. Some Experimental Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories; 4. Some Simulation Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories; 5. Constructive Feedback for Modularity; 6. Temporal Dynamics in Categorization; 7. Temporal Dynamics in Language Comprehension; 8. Temporal Dynamics in Visual Perception; 9. Temporal Dynamics in Action; 10. Temporal Dynamics in Reasoning; 11. Uniting and Freeing the Mind; 12. Dynamical (Self-)Consciousness?show more

Review quote

"The Continuity of Mind is a compelling introduction to the dynamical systems approach to cognition that provides the most readable treatment of this work I have seen. Whether you agree that dynamical systems are the future of cognitive science or not, you cannot ignore the arguments that Spivey puts forward in this book." --Arthur B. Markman, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Texas"In The Continuity of Mind, Michael Spivey presents a bold new vision for cognitive science--a vision that replaces discrete symbolic structures with continuous spaces of mental states, and proposes an inherent smoothness in the processes that move thoughts along the pathways of the mind. With a keen sense of history, a twinkle in his eye, and a clear focus on the challenges ahead, Spivey takes us on a fascinating voyage of exploration in this new, continuous, and dynamically changing world. We examine new tools for exploring the continuity of thought. We visit the rusty relics of discrete forms of theorizing and explore how what is good in them may be revived in theories framed in a more continuous vein. It is an important voyage for anyone interested in the mind, whether from a computational, philosophical, psychological, or neural perspective. All Aboard!" --Jay McClelland, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University"This is required reading for all Cognitive Scientists, young and old. Regardless of how far along the path to 'continuity Psychology' you have traveled, Spivey challenges you to get out of your current attractor basin and continue your journey through theoretical state space." --Ken McRae, Professor of Psychology, University of Western Ontario"In this fascinating book, Spivey challenges the long-standing practice of focusing on behavior as a sequence of perception, cognition, and action based on discrete stimulus-response events...An invaluable resource for those interested in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, and related fields, this volume will serve both the present and the next generation of cognitive scientists."--Choiceshow more

Rating details

20 ratings
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 50% (10)
4 40% (8)
3 10% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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