From low to high cognition: A multi-level model of behavioral control in the primate brain


The basic cognitive architecture of the human brain remains unknown. However, there is evidence for the existence of distinct behavioral control systems shared by humans and nonhumans; and there is further evidence pointing to distinct higher-level problem solving systems shared by humans and other primates. To clarify the nature of these proposed systems and examine how they may interact in the brain, we present a four-level model of the primate brain and compare its performance to three other brain models in the face of a challenging foraging problem (i.e., with transparent, and thus, invisible barriers). In all manipulations (e.g., size of problem space, number of obstacles), our model never performed the best outright; however, it was always among the best, appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades. Thus, the virtues of our primate brain lie not only in the heights of thinking it can reach, but also in its range and versatility.

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