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Thagard’s Mind Theory, Its Use and Modification

Representational power

When examining the nature of the multi-agent system there are a few factors that needed to be taken into consideration, the first is the fact that humans have complex behavioral systems which to this day are still not completely understood (Samson & Apperly, 2010). As such due to the complexity of the connections between various agents within the brain due to aspects related to connectivity and control this theoretically results in the complex behaviors seen in the variety of cognitive representations in modern-day studies on human psychology today (Sylwester et al., 2012).

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Computational power

Given the fact that the “agents” in this particular theory call each other through both a linear and hierarchical fashion, this enables them to effectively “reach” out to other agents to perform a specific action or computational function (Swiatczak, 2011). Taking this into consideration, it can even be assumed that with each individual agent performing its own calculation and contributing to the whole this would actually result in an efficient means of solving particular problems (Swiatczak, 2011).

Psychological plausibility

One of the inherent problems with this theory is the fact that it advocates a decentralized rather than a centralized decision-making process. While it may be true that individual parts of the brain are responsible for specific types of operation the fact is that most theories in psychology advocate a “central decision maker” or rather “central executive” that coordinates the functions of these individual systems into one cohesive whole (Park et al., 2011). Though it is advocated in this particular theory that each system communicates with one another this is still an insufficient justification in light of several theories that explain that a “central processor” so to speak is necessary in order for the mind to properly function in most everyday processes due to the need for “primacy” in particular actions and behaviors.

Neurological plausibility

As mentioned earlier in the multi-agent model all the agents within the brain are connected and as such, it is through this mental connection that specific tasks are carried out. For example, the agent that is associated with the “move” action would call on the “bend” and “step” agents in order to move one leg in front of the other. This in effect creates the motion, actions, and behaviors that are manifested by most people today.

Practical applicability

From a certain perspective if the multi-agent theory were true this would mean that people suffering from paralysis or other forms of neurological-based physical disability might be able to move again if some means of restoring the connection between two or more agents can be established.

Modifying the Theory

One way of modifying the theory is to consider that while all agents are in one way or another interconnected there is actually a central processor that manages all these connections and “issues the orders” so to speak when it comes to particular actions. Since the theory states that individual agents have limited processing power this is indicative of the fact that a single agent cannot be responsible for the processes behind certain responses or deciding to accomplish a particular response. As such there must be a central processor that issues these commands which the agents subsequently respond to (Waskan, 2011). Another modification of the theory is to assume that agents reside in clusters wherein individual clusters are responsible for particular actions such as movement, emotion, the senses, and bodily functions (Vierkant, 2012)

Reference List

Park, I H, Ku, J J, Lee, HH, Kim, S , Kim, S I, Yoon, K J, & Kim, J J 2011, “Disrupted theory of mind network processing in response to idea of reference evocation in schizophrenia”. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 123(1), 43-54.

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Samson, D & Apperly, I A 2010, “There is more to mind reading than having theory of mind concepts: new directions in theory of mind research”. Infant & Child Development, 19(5), 443-454.

Swiatczak, B 2011, “Conscious Representations: An Intractable Problem for the Computational Theory of Mind”. Minds & Machines, 21(1), 19-32.

Sylwester, K, Lyons, M, Buchanan, C, Nettle, D & Roberts, G 2012, “The role of Theory of Mind in assessing cooperative intentions”. Personality & Individual Differences, 52(2), 113-117.

Vierkant, T 2012, “Self-knowledge and knowing other minds: The implicit/explicit distinction as a tool in understanding theory of mind.” British Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 30(1), 141-155.

Waskan, J 2011, “A vehicular theory of corporeal qualia (a gift to computationalists)”. Philosophical Studies, 152(1), 103-125.

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