Information Processing, Computation, and Cognition

In a new paper by Andrea Scarantino and me, we outline the relations between cognition and (different notions of) computation and information processing, as well as the relations between the different notions of computation and information processing.  To my knowledge, this has not been done before (except in an earlier, less sophisticated paper by the same authors). 

Here is the abstract of our paper:

Computation and information processing are perhaps the most fundamental notions in cognitive science.  They are also among the most imprecisely discussed.  Many cognitive scientists take it for granted that cognition involves computation, information processing, or both.  Many write as if computation and information processing were the same thing.  In addition, different cognitive scientists mean different things by ‘computation’ and ‘information processing’.  To help improve on this situation, which leads to a great amount of talking at cross purposes, we outline a taxonomy of notions of computation and information processing and analyze how different notions of computation relate to different notions of information processing.  We argue that cognition involves information processing in several senses of the term, and as a consequence, that cognition is computation at least in a weak sense that we spell out.  We hope this will bring greater clarity and precision to the debate over the nature of cognition.

We’d like to submit Like this:


  1. Why not adhere to the information theory standard of entities and relations: count the entities and calculate the relations. This would make a remarkable fit with the 100 billion or so neurons in the brain and the locality of thoughts (Penfield). That is all we have imho.

  2. gualtiero

    Thanks a lot to the several people who sent me comments! (Anna-Mari Rusanen, Alex Morgan, Malcolm Dean, and Dan Ryder.) The paper is now revised and submitted.

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