Piłat Robert
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48(2012)3 - Papers

Robert Piłat

Dynamic models of mind and perception

  • language: Polish


The article discusses the main claims and assumptions of dynamic models of mind in order to form an opinion about their explanatory value. The main inspiration for this reflection is Michael Spivey's 2008 book ‘The Continuity of Mind’. In the dynamic models, mental processes are represented as points and vectors in multidimensional state spaces. The generality of the models makes it possible to apply them to the neural populations in the brain or to the units of the mind, depending on the type of data processed. The points, vectors and trajectories represent probabilities of performing certain actions; perceiving, deciding to, or moving one’s body. The dynamic models of the mind take issue with the idea of modularity of the mind and especially undermine the concept of mental representation including the perceptual one. The apparent representations are interpreted as attractors in a state space. Due to competing factors and constant inflows of new stimuli, the mind never reaches a stable state. The dynamic modeling consists in representing the passages from one probable state to another. Dynamic models seem to work well for some mental activities, especially in the domain of decision making or movement control. However, the explanations offered within this framework fail to account for the semantic properties of mental states, namely their relations to objects, states, processes, and facts in the environment. All these entities are valid only as sources of data for behavioral modification. The advantages and disadvantages of dynamic models are shown by focusing on a chosen phenomenon, namely a search in the visual realm for an object among distractors. The argument is put forward that the dynamic models cannot grasp some important features of this phenomenon, because they cannot be integrated into a single state space with other characteristics.