On how psychologists realize that the brain, after all, may be creating symbols (concepts), like deep neural networks show

Jeffrey S. Bowers, Parallel Distributed Processing Theory in the Age of Deep Networks, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 21, Issue 12, 2017, Pages 950-961, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2017.09.013.

Parallel distributed processing (PDP) models in psychology are the precursors of deep networks used in computer science. However, only PDP models are associated with two core psychological claims, namely that all knowledge is coded in a distributed format and cognition is mediated by non-symbolic computations. These claims have long been debated in cognitive science, and recent work with deep networks speaks to this debate. Specifically, single-unit recordings show that deep networks learn units that respond selectively to meaningful categories, and researchers are finding that deep networks need to be supplemented with symbolic systems to perform some tasks. Given the close links between PDP and deep networks, it is surprising that research with deep networks is challenging PDP theory.

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