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The Continuity of Mind$
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Michael Spivey

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195170788

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195170788.001.0001

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Some Conceptual Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories

Some Conceptual Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories

Chapter:
(p.30) 2 Some Conceptual Tools for Tracking Continuous Mental Trajectories
Source:
The Continuity of Mind
Author(s):

Michael Spivey (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195170788.003.0002

This chapter introduces the distinction between a pure mental state, which is an idealized (prototype) location in the state space that is never perfectly visited, and a probabilistic mental state, which is the region surrounding that location, often functioning like an attractor basin that “pulls” the system toward itself. With some simple simulations and visualizations, this chapter more richly explicates how the concept of a pattern of neural activation changing over time is equivalent to a continuous trajectory through a state space. As the trajectory settles into one attractor basin, the landscape changes (due to adaptation, new sensory input, and feedback from motor commands) so that the trajectory then moves on toward other attractor basins.

Keywords:   mental state, dynamical systems, trajectory, population code, attractor basin, attractor landscape, attractor network

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