Do humans store symbolic information

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Researchers have used a variety of terms to refer to the information and knowledge that human beings store. These include the earlier mentioned concept nodes of semantic networks, episodic traces of the multiple trace theory, images, elements corresponding to characteristics detectors of the PDP model, mental lexicons, etc. In most cognitive theories, the presence of such symbols existing as knowledge (memory) representations is taken as a precondition. A number of cognitive phenomena have been successfully explained by assuming that such symbols are used by human beings for outputting responses (behavior). In other words, current cognitive theories widely accept that human beings generate responses and behavior through manipulation of these preexisting symbols.

However, there has been very little discussion on the mechanisms by which symbols are acquired. For example, the concept node that represents the numeral "2", i.e., the process of formation of the characteristics detector that detects the horizontal bar (-) used for pattern recognition of "2", has not been clarified. It is easy to assume that basic characteristics detectors are inherently present in human beings. But would it not be possible to model the human cognitive phenomenon from a different point of view?

You perceive a straight line in Figure 4. Your eyeballs execute saccade movements about three times every second. The process that converts the optical information provided by the visual cells into impulse data depends

Fig. 4. No linear information has ever been input into you from the time of your birth.

on chemical reactions in individual visual cells. It would not be appropriate to assume that the timing of the output impulses is the same in all of the visual cells. In other words, it is very likely that at a given moment when you observe the straight line of Figure 4, the impulse data being input into your brain is almost random information. This state of affairs has continued from your birth to the present moment. It means, if we think naturally, we can conclude that human beings never receive symbolic information.

Taking this into consideration, Terasawa (1994, 1997) postulated that information possessed by humans is binary-type non-symbolic pattern information (n-s pattern information, for short) that is output by receptors into the human body and the brain. I suggested the approach of explaining the cognitive process in human beings from the vast amount of n-s patterns that we hold. According to current cognitive theories, the responses (speech, etc.) that human beings finally output are all based on symbolic information that they already possess. A lot of effort is spent in elucidating the processes for accessing such symbols in response to external stimuli. Contrary to this, Terasawa (1994, 1997) argued that the information held by human beings consisted of n-s patterns, and emphasized the need for an approach to elucidation of the processes that finally generate (create) such symbolic information.

According to this view, it is assumed that human beings retain the n-s patterns almost as such. Therefore, there is no need to postulate processes for encoding the external n-s patterns, collating them with internal symbols, and storing them. What becomes difficult then is the modeling of the symbolic cognitive process from the n-s pattern information alone, which human beings accomplish. The outcome of this approach depends on whether the symbolic information that human beings output can be created solely from the accumulated meaningless patterns.

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