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Mental Representation of Knowledge 2 Approaches: 1. Introspectionist approach where one can ask people to describe ones own knowledge representations and knowledge representations processes. 2. Rationalist approach deduce logically how people represent knowledge.

For centuries philosophers have done the rationalist approach exactly. From Classic Epistemology the study of the nature, origins, limits of human knowledge, philosophers have distinguished between 2 kinds of (2 Types) Knowledge Structures: 1. Declarative Knowledge refers to the facts that can be stated, such as birth date, name of friend or how an animal looks. 2. Procedural Knowledge refers to the knowledge of procedures that can be implemented.

Cognitive Psychologists have 2 main sources of empirical data on knowledge representation: 1. Standard laboratory experiments this is indirect study of knowledge representations (because we cannot directly look into the peoples minds). Researchers observe how people handle various cognitive tasks that require manipulation of mentally represented knowledge. 2. Neuropsychological studies - 2 methods used here: 1) researchers observe how normal brain responds to various cognitive tasks involving knowledge representation 2) they observe the links between various deficits in knowledge representation and associated pathologies in the brain

Some of the theories researches have proposed to explain HOW WE REPRESENT AND STORE KNOWLEDGE IN OUR MINDS: Ways Knowledge can be represented in the mind: 1. As a mental picture we have some mental representations that resembles pictorial, analogous images 2. In words - we have other mental representations that are highly symbolic, like word 3. Abstract propositions - We have more fundamental propositional representations that are in a pure abstract mentalese that is neither verbal nor pictorial

Note that there are differences between images and words when they are used to represent ideas in the external world. * Cat

* The cat is under the table * under (cat, table)


Imagery the mental representation of things that are not currently seen or sensed by the sense organs ( Moulton & Kosslyn, 2009; Thomas, 2003). 2 Theories how we represent information in our minds: 1. Dual-Code Theory we use both pictorial and verbal codes for representing information in our minds (Paivio, 1969, 1971) 1.1. 2 kinds of codes: 1) Analog resemble the object they are representing; pictorial codes

2) Symbolic Code a form of knowledge representation that has been chosen arbitrarily to stand for something that does not perceptually resemble what is being represented; verbal codes. 2. Propositional Theory we do not store mental representations in the form of images or mere words; our mental representations (or mentalese) more closely resemble the abstract form of a proposition. According to this theory we may experience our mental representations as images but this images are epiphenomena secondary and derivative phenomena that occur as a result of other more basic cognitive processes.

a Proposition the meaning underlying a particular relationship among concepts. Logicians have devised a shorthand means of expressing propositions called predicate calculus. According to propositional theory pictorial and verbal information are encoded and stored as propositions. Then when we retrieved the information from storage, the propositional representation is retrieved.

Propositional Representations Underlying Meanings -We may use propositions to represent any kind of relationship, including actions, attributes, spatial positions, class membership, or almost any other conceivable relationship: - In the example table next slide propositions are expressed in a shorthand form (known as predicate calculus) commonly used to express underlying meaning. This shorthand is intended only to give some idea of how the underlying meaning of knowledge might be represented. It is not believed that this form is literally the form in which meaning is represented in the mind. In general the shorthand form for representing propositions is this: [Relationship between elements] [subject element] [object element]

Type of Relationship

Representation in Words

Propositional Representation

Imaginal Representation


A mouse bit a cat

Bite (action) Mouse (agent of action) Cat (object)


Mice are furry

(External Surface characteristics) furry (attribute) mouse (object) (vertical higher Position) (table, cat) (categorical membership) animal (category) cat (member)

Spatial Positions

A cat is under the table.

Class or Category Membership

A cat is an animal

Limitations of Mental Images: What are the limits of analogical representation of images?

Limits To Knowledge Representation in Mental Images: We could not use mental image to trace the lines to determine which component shapes were or were not part of a whole figure. Mental representation of figures are not the same as percepts of these figures Visual images can be distorted through verbal information Semantic (verbal) information tends to distort recall of visual images in the direction of the meaning of the images Propositional codes may override the imaginal code in some circumstances

Semantic labels clearly influences mental images:

Limitations of Propositional Theory in contrast to the above discussion, we do not necessarily need a propositional code to manipulate information, but can manipulate mental images directly. Manipulation of mental images can be done by combining two distinct images to form a different mental image altogether. This manipulation can be thought of as an imaginal Gestalt experience. In the combined image , the whole of the two combined images differed from the sum of its two distinct parts. Mental images can be combined effectively to create mental images of another kind be it geometrical shapes, objects or letters. Examples: letter H and X Right triangles letter M

Mental reinterpretation of ambiguous figures involves two manipulations: 1. Mental realignment of the reference frame this would involve shift in the positional orientations of the figures on the mental page or screen on which the image is displayed. 2. Mental reconstrual reinterpretation of parts of the figure

Mental Manipulations of Images

Functional-equivalence - refers to individuals using about the same operations to serve about the same purposes for their respective domains.

Functional-equivalence hypothesis although visual imagery is not identical to visual perception, it is functionally equivalent to it. Functional equivalent things are strongly analogous to each other they can accomplish the same goals. The functionallyequivalent images are thus analogous to the physical percepts they represent. This view essentially suggests that we use images rather than propositions in knowledge representation for concrete objects that can be pictured in the mind. Mental images can be rotated just like physical objects.

Mental rotation involves rotationally transforming an objects visual mental image .

Image scaling we use mental images the same way we use actual perceptions

Image scanning images can be scanned in much the same way as physical percepts can be scanned.


Images and Propositions

Based on studies about mental rotations, image scaling, and image scanning mental images appears functionally equivalent to perception in many ways. However studies involving ambiguous figures and unfamiliar mental manipulations suggest that there are limits to the analogy between perception and imagery. ALTERNATIVE SYNTHESIS

ALTERNATIVE SYNTHESIS Johnson-Lairds Mental Models suggests that mental representations may take any of three forms: 1. Propositions fully abstracted representations of meaning that are verbally expressible 2. Images mental picture 3. Mental Models are knowledge structures that individuals construct to understand and explain their experiences. The models are constrained by the individuals implicit theories about those experiences which can be more or less accurate. The models depend not on physical or other laws but on your belief on them.

Hemispheric Lateralization of Information

Right hemisphere appears to represent and manipulate visuospatial knowledge in a manner similar to perception. Left hemisphere appears to be more proficient in representing and manipulating verbal and other symbol-based knowledge 2 kinds of images 1. Visual imagery refers to the use of images that represent visual characteristics such as colors and shapes.

2. Spatial imagery refers to images that represent spatial features such as depth, dimensions, distances, and orientations.


Spatial Cognition deals with the acquisition, organization, and use of knowledge about objects and actions in two- and three-dimensional space. Cognitive maps are internal representations of our physical environment, particularly centering on spatial relationships.

Representation and Organization of

Knowledge in memory Organization of Declarative Knowledge Concept fundamental unit of symbolic knowledge.
It is an idea about something that provides a means of understanding the world. Category is a group of items into which different objects or concepts can be placed that belong together because they share some common features, or because they are all similar to a certain prototype. 2 distinction of categories: 1) natural categories are groupings that occur naturally in the world

2) artifact categories are groupings that are designed or invented by humans to serve particular purposes or functions Another distinction of categories ad hoc categories are categories specifically created just for the moment or for specific purpose Categories appears to have a basic level. Basic level of category a level within a hierarchy that is preferred to other levels How we decide to put things in a certain category? A) one theory suggests that we put an object only in one category if it has several defining features .

B) Another approach is we compare an object with an averaged representation (a prototype) to decide whether it fits into a category. C) Still another approach is that people can categorize objects based on their own theories about those objects Discussion A) Feature Based Categories the classic view of categories break down a concept into a set of featural components. Each of these features are necessary to define the category which means that each feature is an important element of the category. Together the features uniquely define the category and are called defining features.

Problems of feature-based categories: Some categories do not readily lend themselves to featural analysis. Ex. Game Violation of those defining features does not seem to change the category we use to define them. Feature based categories has some attractive features but it does not give a complete account of categories. Discussion B) Prototype theory the characteristic view of categories; grouping things not by their defining features but by their similarity to an averaged model of the category. Prototype is an abstract average of all the objects in the category we have encountered before

Characteristic features describe (characterize or typify) the prototype. Some psychologists suggest that instead of using a single abstract prototype for categorizing a concept, we use multiple specific prototype called exemplars. Exemplars are typical representative of a category Some psychologists make a synthesis of the featurebased and prototype-based theories; combining both defining and characteristic features so that each category has both a prototype and a core. Core refers to the defining features something must have to be considered an example of a category. Prototype encompasses the characteristic features that tend to be typical of an example but not necessary to be considered to be an example

Discussion C) Theory-based categorization also called an explanation-based view. Theory-based view of meaning holds that people understand and categorize concepts in terms of implicit theories, or general ideas they have regarding those concepts. How do people use their theories for categorization? Ex: What make someone a good sport In the componential view you would try to isolate features of a good sport. In the prototype view you would try to find characteristic features of a good sport. In the exemplar view you might try to find some good examples you have known in your life.

In the theory-based view you would use your experience to construct an explanation for what make someone a good sport.


Semantic network models suggest that knowledge is represented in our minds in the form of concepts that are connected with each other in a web-like form. Semantic network is a web of elements of meaning (nodes) that are connected with each other through links. The elements are nodes. They are typically concepts. The connections between nodes are labeled relationships.

R In a simple semantic network nodes serves as junctures representing concepts linked by labeled relationships : a basic network structure showing that relationship R links the nodes a and b. Hierarchical Structure of Semantic Network A semantic network has a hierarchical structure. The concepts (represented through the nodes) are connected by means of relationships

Example of hierarchical Structure of Semantic Network: GENOGRAM

Example of a Genogram:

SCHEMATIC REPRESENTATIONS Schemas mental frameworks for representing and organizing knowledge that encompasses an array of interrelated concepts in a meaningful organization. Example:

Scripts a particular kind of schema. It contains information about the particular order in which things occur . In general scripts are much less flexible than schemas. Ex:

Representations of How we Do Things:

Procedural Knowledge
Processing Procedural Knowledge: Serial processing information is handled through a linear sequence of operations, one operation at a time. Production there are rules governing production o example 1) if-then rule, or 2) production system input-output Bugs flaws in production

Non declarative Knowledge: Perceptual, Motor and Cognitive skills ( procedural knowledge) Simple associative knowledge (classical and operant conditioning) Simple non-associative knowledge (habituation and sensitization) Priming fundamental links within a knowledge network , in which the activation of information along a particular mental pathway facilitates the subsequent retrieval of information along a related pathway or even the same mental pathway.

Integrative Models of Representing Declarative

and Non-Declarative Knowledge

Combining Representations ACT R Adaptive control of thought representation

3 stages of acquisition of procedural knowledge

1. Cognitive think of explicit rules for implementing the procedure 2. Associative practice using explicit rules extensively usually in highly consistent manner 3. Autonomous we use these rules automatically and implicitly without thinking about them. We show a high degree of integration and coordination , as well as speed and accuracy