doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00054 Emulation as an integrating principle for cognition

Abstract

Emulations, defined as ongoing internal representations of potential actions and the futures those actions are expected to produce, play a critical role in directing human bodily activities. Studies of gross motor behavior, perception, allocation of attention, response to errors, interoception, and homeostatic activities, and higher cognitive reasoning suggest that the proper execution of all these functions relies on emulations. Further evidence supports the notion that reinforcement learning in humans is aimed at updating emulations, and that action selection occurs via the advancement of preferred emulations toward realization of their action and environmental prediction. Emulations are hypothesized to exist as distributed active networks of neurons in cortical and sub-cortical structures. This manuscript ties together previously unrelated theories of the role of prediction in different aspects of human information processing to create an integrated framework for cognition

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