University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Zangwill Club > The representational-hierarchical view of cognition: implications for amnesia, interference and Alzheimer's Disease

The representational-hierarchical view of cognition: implications for amnesia, interference and Alzheimer's Disease

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Tea and Cakes available in 2nd Floor Seminar Room from 4pm

The prevailing paradigm in cognitive neuroscience assumes that the brain can best be understood as consisting of modules specialised for different psychological functions. Within the field of memory, we assume modules for different kinds of memory. The most influential version of this view posits a module called the “medial temporal lobe memory system” which operates in the service of declarative memory. This system can be contrasted with a separate “perceptual representation system” in the ventral visual stream, which is critical for perceptual learning and memory, an example of nondeclarative function. In this talk, I will suggest that a potentially better way to understand the ventral visual-perirhinal-hippocampal stream is as a hierarchically organised representational continuum. According to this representational-hierarchical view, cognition, perception, memory, and indeed amnesia may be understood by considering the content and organization of stimulus representations in the brain. This view makes specific predictions related to classic issues in amnesia research, namely whether amnesia is due to a deficit of encoding, storage or retrieval, and the related issue of the role of interference in amnesia. It further suggests that, in general, rather than trying to map psychological functions onto brain modules, we could benefit by instead attempting to understand the functions of brain regions in terms of the representations they contain, and the computations they perform.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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