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Fundamental principles of cognition

Research Achievements

Fundamental principles of cognition

How general across cognition are fundamental principles like those governing the representation of order in a sequence of items? Do the same principles apply to ordering of letters in words, numbers in lists, sounds in words? By combining sophisticated probabilistic modeling with the experimental study of brain-damaged and intact subjects, IGERT trainee Simon Fischer-Baum has amassed considerable evidence that the answer is "yes". Especially surprising is the identity of principles for speech and non-linguistic sequences, as it has long been claimed that representations in language are distinct from those in other cognitive domains. The principles call for identifying the location of an item in a sequence via its distance from the two ends of the sequence, and for having encodings of neighboring locations that are more similar than the encodings of more widely-separated locations. (The key work on speech-sound sequences was made possible by our IGERT program's International Component.)