Ultrafast Cognition

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Observations of ultrafast cognition in human performance challenge intuitive information processing and computation metaphors of cognitive processing. Instances of ultrafast cognition are marked by ultrafast response times of reliable, accurate responses to a relatively complex stimulus. Ultrafast means response times that are as fast as a single feedforward burst of activity across the nervous system connecting eye to hand. Thus the information processing and computation metaphors in question are those in which some amount of time is required to decide and initiate a response, over and above the minimum time required, physiologically, for the eye-hand chain of action potentials—these are metaphors in which the brain does work that has a measurable duration in time. Ultrafast cognition can be explained by synergies spanning the mind and body. Synergies are temporary dynamical structures that anticipate context-appropriate behaviour. An anticipatory state poises the mind and body in symmetry among equivalent options for behaviour, and only a minimal change in context, favouring one option over any other, is sufficient to break symmetry and enact an ultrafast cognitive response

Keywords: breakingcomplexity; mind-body synergy; symmetry; ultrafast response time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: MINDLab, Aarhus University, Aarhus 8000, Denmark, Email: sewa@hum.au.dk 2: Email: guy.van.orden@uc.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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