School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM CoSy project CogX project

Dynamical Information-Processing Systems in Animals and Machines

Aaron Sloman
Last updated: 27 Oct 2010; 28 Feb 2011; 13 Jul 2011; 10 Aug 2012
Installed: 27 Oct 2010
This file is

Different Kinds of Dynamical System

Randall Beer wrote in his 2000 paper:

   "Although the three models reviewed here vary considerably in their
   details, they all share a focus on the unfolding trajectory of a
   system's state and the internal and external forces that shape this
   trajectory rather than the representational content of its
   constituent states or the underlying physical mechanisms that
   instantiate the dynamics. In some work, this dynamical viewpoint is
   augmented with a situated and embodied perspective on cognition,
   forming a promising unified theoretical framework for cognitive
   science broadly construed."

More kinds of dynamical system

I suspect that Beer and others are mostly thinking about what I have
called "Atomic State Dynamical systems" (Sloman 1993), in contrast with
"Molecular state dynamical systems"

  See "The mind as a control system,"

We need new kinds of dynamical system This contrasts with
Vision is a process involving multiple concurrent simulations at different
levels of abstraction in (partial) registration with one another and sometimes
(when appropriate) in registration with visual sensory data and/or motor

The information is processed in different ways for different purposes, at the
same time using different forms of representation.

Dynamical Systems Tightly Coupled to the Environment

simple dynamical

Dynamical Systems Partly De-coupled from the Environment

decoupled dynamical

Red lines indicate references to remote or inaccessible parts of the

Contrast "online cognition" and "offline cognition".

NOTE ADDED 10 Aug 2012:
An incomplete, but hopefully slowly growing attempt to be more systematic about these
ideas is here:

References (Unfinished)

Randall D. Beer, 2000,
Dynamical approaches to cognitive science,
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 3, pp. 91--99,

Murray P. Shanahan
Embodiment and the inner life: Cognition and Consciousness in the Space of Possible Minds,
2010, OUP, Oxford,

Aaron Sloman,
The Computer Revolution in Philosophy: Philosophy, Science and Models of Mind,
Harvester Press (and Humanities Press) 1978,
Hassocks, Sussex,
[Chapter 6 is particularly relevant]

Aaron Sloman,
The mind as a control system,
In Philosophy and the Cognitive Sciences,
Eds. C. Hookway and D. Peterson, pp. 69--110,
Cambridge University Press, 1993,

T. van Gelder
The dynamical hypothesis in cognitive science
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 5, 1998,

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham