Representation in Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Alfredo PereiraJr.


This article discusses the possible representational nature of two brain cognitive functions: perceptual and executive. Assuming the Newellian definition of representational processes as those that establish an isomorphic relation between two structures, I claim that perceptual processes generate only a partial correspondence (between stimuli properties and brain states) and therefore should not be properly conceived as representational. On the other hand, executive processes encompass the combination of copies (i.e., representations) of perceptual patterns, generating new patterns that subserve behavior. In summary, I criticize the notion of perceptual representations, and propose that brain representational processes are related to executive functions, having a pragmatic dimension.


Spike Train Cognitive Neuroscience Brain State Informational Pattern Executive System 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baddeley, A. D. (1986) Working Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ballard, D. H. (1991) Animate Vision. Artificial Intelligence 48: 57–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks, R. A. (1991) New Approaches to Robotics. Science 253: 1227–1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carpenter, G. A., Grossberg, S., Markuzon, N., Reynolds, J. H. & Rosen, D. B. (1992) Attentive Supervised Learning and Recognition by an Adaptative Resonance System. In: Carpenter, G. A. & Grossberg, S. (eds.) Neural Networks for Vision and Image Processing. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Clark, A. (1996) Being There. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Da Costa, N. C. A. & French, S. R. D. (1990) The Model-Theoretic Approach in the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science 57: 248–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. D’Esposito, M. & Grossman, M.(1996) The Physiological Basis of Executive Functions and Working Memory. The Neuroscientist 2: 345–352.Google Scholar
  8. Dretske, F. (1981) Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Gibson, J. J. (1973) The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  10. Lettvin, J. Y., Maturana, H., McCullogh, W. & Pitts, W. (1959) What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain. In: McCullogh, W. (ed.) Embodiments of Mind. Second Printing (1989). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Maturana, H. R. & Varela, F. J. (1979) Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Boston: Reidel.Google Scholar
  12. Milner, A. D. & Goodale, M. (1995) The Visual Brain in Action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Newell, A. (1990) Unified Theories of Cognition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Peschl, M. & Riegler, A. (1999) Does Representation Need Reality? This volume.Google Scholar
  15. Rieke, R., Warland, D., Steveninck, R. R. & Bialek, W. (1997) Spikes. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Tanaka, K., Saito, H., Fukada, Y & Moriya, M. (1990) Integration of Form, Texture, and Color Information in the Inferotemporal Cortex of the Macaque. In: Iwai, E. & Mishkin, M. (eds.) Vision, Memory and the Temporal Lobe. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  17. Tanaka, K. (1993) Neuronal Mechanisms of Object Recognition. Science 262: 685–688.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Uexküll, J. von (1935) A Stroll Into the Worlds of Animals and Man. In: Schiller, C. H. & Lashley, K. S. (1957) Instinctive Behavior. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  19. Ungerleider, L. G. & Haxby, J. V. (1994) ‘What’ and ‘Where’ in the Human Brain. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 4: 157–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Young, M. P. (1995) Open Questions about the Neural Mechanisms of Visual Pattern Recognition. In: Gazzaniga, M. (ed.) The Cognitive Neurosciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo PereiraJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute de BiocienciasUNESP (Universidade Estadual Paulista)Botucatu, Sao PauloBrasil

Personalised recommendations