Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Role of Belief in Cognition

The Role of Belief in Cognition


There are working, episodic and semantic memories in our brain among others.  It is not very clear whether these are completely seperate regions in our brain.  They can be easily detected functionally. 

Working memory is the memory we use when we are actually thinking or talking.  Episodic memory holds the information related to events and when/where they occur.  Semantic memory holds the abtracted concepts/knowledge.

An event first happens in the working memory, then it is recorded in the episodic memory.  If there is a knowledge that can be deducted, it is recorded in the semantic memory.

The semantic memory is specially organised so that generalization and instantiation can be done automatically.  For example we do not think too much to say an eagle flies.  In the semantic  tree, eagle is connected to bird and bird is connected  to flying animal and that to animal.  How the information is stored in our brain is possibly related with the formation of connections during the perception and further processing. It is not a surprise that categorical subject test have shown regions close to the perception/subject specialization.

When some concept is being inserted to the semantic memory, an appropriate location in the semantic tree is searched.  Actually this may be an innate procedure that is done automatically while forming new connections.  The crux of the issue is how it is established that a connection of the eagle to the bird occur. 

The context of the word eagle may establish the relation of eagle to bird if the context of the bird is similar to the eagle.  The more the contexts' similarity the better.  The better what? We answer this what question as: Belief.

The more the new item, the new leaf fits into the semantic tree the more it is confident.  On the other hand, the more confident the leafs of a semantic tree, the more confident it is.

Schachter says in his 'Memory, Brain and Belief', "I use the term 'belief' when I use the attribution of truth value to a particular thought content, either percieved of recalled."

The semantic tree holds not only the data items but also their belief factors. Harold Pashler says in his 'Encyclopedia of the Mind', "An alternative answer to the question of what justifies memory beliefs turns on the idea that memory is preservative not just respect to the content of beliefs but also with respect to their justification".

Belief helps us to feel our thoughts.
Belief is how we sense our brain.