Pseudocontingencies - A key paradigm for understanding adaptive cognition
[...from the chapter] The probabilistic mind has to mirror the structure of the probabilistic world. Because the mind reflects the environment, the topic of the present volume should not be misunderstood as referring only to intrapsychic processes within individual organisms' brains or minds. Rather, the 'probabilistic mind' refers to the adaptive match between cognitive functions and environmental tasks and affordances. Studying the probabilistic mind calls for a cognitive-ecological approach that relates mental functions to environmental structures, rather than a purely cognitive approach that relates individual mental functions to micro-level intrapsychic processes, such as neuronal processes. In this respect, the cognitive-ecological perspective that guides the present article, and most other articles in the present book, may be conceived as complementary to a neuro-scientific approach to the human mind. The cognitive illusion that is in the focus of the present chapter – called pseudocontingencies – highlights the need to study the top-down constraints imposed by the environment on cognitive behavior, which are quite distinct from the bottom-up constraints of internal neuronal processes.
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