The classical notion of a ‘language of thought’ (LoT), advanced prominently by the philosopher Jerry Fodor, is an influential position in cognitive science whereby the mental representations underpinning thought are considered to be compositional and productive, enabling the construction of new complex thoughts from more primitive symbolic concepts. LoT theory has been challenged because a neural implementation has been deemed implausible. We disagree. Examples of critical computational ingredients needed for a neural implementation of a LoT have in fact been demonstrated, in particular in the hippocampal spatial navigation system of rodents. Here, we show that cell types found in spatial navigation (border cells, object cells, head-direction cells, etc.) provide key types of representation and computation required for the LoT, underscoring its neurobiological viability.
- computational theory of mind
- spatial navigation
- symbolic representation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience