Chapter Summary

In this chapter, we have tried to cover a broad canvas in painting a picture of the what and how of mental representation and human knowlege. The what has concerned itself with the sorts of contents that tend to be represented; objects, relations, events, and so on. The how has concerned itself with the format of the representations, whether they be propositional or imagery-based. In the next chapter we delve deeper into the issue of how object concepts and categories have been researched. For now, we conclude this chapter with some summary points:

• A representation is a something that re-presents aspects of our world to us. A broad division is often made between propositional and analogical representations.

• Propositional representations are discrete, explicit, are combined according to rules, and are abstract. They are abstract in the sense that they can represent information from any modality.

• Analogical representations are non-discrete, can represent things implicitly, have loose rules of combination, and are concrete in the sense that they are tied to a particular sense modality (e.g., the visual).

• Object and relational concepts have been captured in propositional terms by predicate calculus representations; more complex structurings of relations in events are often represented as schemata.

• The special properties of imagery have been demonstrated in successive empirical studies of mental rotation, the re-interpretation of ambiguous images, and image scanning.

• Paivio's theory provides detailed account for the distinction between two separate but interdependent symbolic systems, one verbally based and one image-based, which have been supported by localisation studies of the brain.

• Kosslyn's theory provides one account of how the imagery system might work in terms of detailed computational processes, an account that he argues overlaps significantly with aspects of visual perception. Various aspects of this system have been supported by empirical studies, for example, on image tracing.

• The neuropsychology of imagery has been extensively examined to determine the hemispheric localisation of imagery process (in both hemispheres).

• Finally, connectionist accounts of representation provide a very different view from the traditional symbolic accounts, one in which representations are characterised as patterns of activation in a network of units (so-called distributed representations).

Business Correspondence

Business Correspondence

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