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Keywords:

  • Development;
  • Emergence;
  • Explanation;
  • History;
  • Language;
  • Modeling;
  • Neural networks

Abstract

The study of human intelligence was once dominated by symbolic approaches, but over the last 30 years an alternative approach has arisen. Symbols and processes that operate on them are often seen today as approximate characterizations of the emergent consequences of sub- or nonsymbolic processes, and a wide range of constructs in cognitive science can be understood as emergents. These include representational constructs (units, structures, rules), architectural constructs (central executive, declarative memory), and developmental processes and outcomes (stages, sensitive periods, neurocognitive modules, developmental disorders). The greatest achievements of human cognition may be largely emergent phenomena. It remains a challenge for the future to learn more about how these greatest achievements arise and to emulate them in artificial systems.