Multifractal Dynamics in the Emergence of Cognitive Structure
Article first published online: 24 OCT 2011
Copyright © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 51–62, January 2012
How to Cite
Dixon, J. A., Holden, J. G., Mirman, D. and Stephen, D. G. (2012), Multifractal Dynamics in the Emergence of Cognitive Structure. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4: 51–62. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2011.01162.x
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 24 OCT 2011
- Received 7 June 2011; received in revised form 9 January 2011; accepted 10 February 2011
- Power laws
The complex-systems approach to cognitive science seeks to move beyond the formalism of information exchange and to situate cognition within the broader formalism of energy flow. Changes in cognitive performance exhibit a fractal (i.e., power-law) relationship between size and time scale. These fractal fluctuations reflect the flow of energy at all scales governing cognition. Information transfer, as traditionally understood in the cognitive sciences, may be a subset of this multiscale energy flow. The cognitive system exhibits not just a single power-law relationship between fluctuation size and time scale but actually exhibits many power-law relationships, whether over time or space. This change in fractal scaling, that is, multifractality, provides new insights into changes in energy flow through the cognitive system. We survey recent findings demonstrating the role of multifractality in (a) understanding atypical developmental outcomes, and (b) predicting cognitive change. We propose that multifractality provides insights into energy flows driving the emergence of cognitive structure.