Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Probabilistic functionalism: A unifying paradigm for the cognitive sciences

Javier R. Movellan a1 and Jonathan D. Nelson a1
a1 Department of Cognitive Science, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093


The probabilistic analysis of functional questions is maturing into a rigorous and coherent research paradigm that may unify the cognitive sciences, from the study of single neurons in the brain to the study of high level cognitive processes and distributed cognition. Endless debates about undecidable structural issues (modularity vs. interactivity, serial vs. parallel processing, iconic vs. propositional representations, symbolic vs. connectionist models) may be put aside in favor of a rigorous understanding of the problems solved by organisms in their natural environments. [Shepard; Tenenbaum & Griffiths]