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The Mind as a Predictive Modelling Engine: Generative Models, Structural Similarity, and Mental Representation
Abstract and Figures
I outline and defend a theory of mental representation based on three ideas that I extract from the work of the mid-twentieth century philosopher, psychologist, and cybernetician Kenneth Craik: first, an account of mental representation in terms of idealised models that capitalize on structural similarity to their targets; second, an appreciation of prediction as the core function of such models; and third, a regulatory understanding of brain function. I clarify and elaborate on each of these ideas, relate them to contemporary advances in neuroscience and machine learning, and favourably contrast a generative model-based theory of mental representation with other prominent accounts of the nature, importance, and functions of mental representations in cognitive science and philosophy.
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