How Important Are Mental Representations in Cognitive Theories

1794 Words May 27th, 2005 8 Pages
HOW IMPORTANT ARE MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS IN COGNITIVE THEORIES?

How the world around us is represented mentally is the corner stone of cognitive architectures. It facilitates understanding of information received and perceived from our environment. The storage and retrieval of knowledge would be impossible without mental representations.

Mental representations are the way in which we create ‘copies' of the real things around us, which we perceive. A description of a representation is a symbol, sign, image or a depiction that takes the place of a real object in the real world.
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Representations were broadly categorised into three. The ‘analogue representation' the ‘propositional representation' and ‘procedural rules'. Analogue
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Their well known Restaurant script was designed to test whether people would agree about which events occur in a restaurant. The idea being that we store scripts in memory to allow us to make sense of stories which concern typical events. They found that when scripts written by participants were compared there was general agreement about the main events in that scenario.
ACT* is very similar to schema theory as the mental representations here are also propostitional and symbolic. Since it is a computer model it can be programmed as a memory system, a language processor or a problem solver (e.g. the Towers Of Hanoi.). Schema theory focuses only on long term memory, whereas ACT* acts on working memory and two kinds of long term memory, declarative and procedural. Of the three models this is the only one to address the overall structure of what is being modelled. ACT* representation is organised similarly to schema theory, in organised packages of information but for declarative memory only and it is not a strictly organised hierarchy but a tangled one.
Procedural memory is represented as a production