On the Emergence of Analogical Inference


What processes and mechanisms underlie analogical reasoning? In recent years, several computational models of analogy have been implemented to explore this question. One feature of many of these models is the assumption that humans possess dedicated analogy-specific cognitive machinery – for instance, a mapping or binding engine. In this paper, we question whether it is necessary to assume the existence of such machinery. We find that at least for some types of analogy, it is not. Instead, some forms of analogical processing emerge naturally and spontaneously from relatively simple, low-level learning mechanisms. We argue that this perspective is consistent with empirical findings from the developmental literature and with recent advances in cognitive neuroscience.

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