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An information theory account of cognitive control.

Fan J - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: Despite a considerable focus in the literature on the cognitive control of information processing, neural mechanisms underlying control are still unclear, and have not been characterized by considering the quantity of information to be processed.A novel and comprehensive account of cognitive control is proposed using concepts from information theory, which is concerned with communication system analysis and the quantification of information.This hypothesis and theory article justifies the validity and properties of such an account and relates experimental findings to the frontoparietal network under the framework of information theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Queens College, The City University of New York Flushing, NY, USA ; Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY, USA.

ABSTRACT
Our ability to efficiently process information and generate appropriate responses depends on the processes collectively called cognitive control. Despite a considerable focus in the literature on the cognitive control of information processing, neural mechanisms underlying control are still unclear, and have not been characterized by considering the quantity of information to be processed. A novel and comprehensive account of cognitive control is proposed using concepts from information theory, which is concerned with communication system analysis and the quantification of information. This account treats the brain as an information-processing entity where cognitive control and its underlying brain networks play a pivotal role in dealing with conditions of uncertainty. This hypothesis and theory article justifies the validity and properties of such an account and relates experimental findings to the frontoparietal network under the framework of information theory.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

The majority function task and reaction time as a function of information entropy. (A) In this task, arrows with set sizes of 1, 3, or 5 are randomly presented at 8 possible locations arranged in an octagon centered on a fixation cross. The arrows point either left or right, and are presented simultaneously. The participants' task is to indicate the direction in which the majority of arrows point. For example, if three arrows are presented, and two point to the left and one to the right (see the “2:1” panel in the “Set size 3” column), the correct response should be “left.” The eight circles illustrate the locations and are not displayed during the experiment. The label for each of the 6 conditions is the ratio of the numbers in each category. (B) Reaction time (RT) as a function of information entropy (estimated based on a group search strategy).
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Figure 2: The majority function task and reaction time as a function of information entropy. (A) In this task, arrows with set sizes of 1, 3, or 5 are randomly presented at 8 possible locations arranged in an octagon centered on a fixation cross. The arrows point either left or right, and are presented simultaneously. The participants' task is to indicate the direction in which the majority of arrows point. For example, if three arrows are presented, and two point to the left and one to the right (see the “2:1” panel in the “Set size 3” column), the correct response should be “left.” The eight circles illustrate the locations and are not displayed during the experiment. The label for each of the 6 conditions is the ratio of the numbers in each category. (B) Reaction time (RT) as a function of information entropy (estimated based on a group search strategy).

Mentions: In addition to uncertainty due to dimensional competition in the stimuli or manipulations of stimulus frequency, there is also a need to consider uncertainty due to the algorithms of mental operation for tasks that involve higher level stages of uncertainty processing (Bach and Dolan, 2012), such as the majority function task (MFT, Fan et al., 2008a, 2014; Wang et al., 2011). In this task, participants are shown a number of left/right arrows and asked to indicate the direction in which the majority of the arrows are pointing (Figure 2A). Set size (1, 3, or 5 arrows) and congruency (the ratio of the number of left/right arrows) are varied across and within blocks of trials, respectively. A majority function can be computed that outputs 1 if and only if more than half the inputs are 1s. For example, given three input bits x, y, and z, the majority can be computed based on the formula majority(x, y, z) = (x ∧ y) ∨ (y ∧ z) ∨ (x ∧ z) (Wang et al., 2011). In a flanker task, the center arrow and the surrounding arrows are explicitly defined as target and task-irrelevant distracters. However, in the MFT, all arrows displayed in a set are possible task-relevant. Although the input information to be processed varies across conditions, the response is always only 1 bit (two alternatives, left/right). Using RT as a measure of cognitive control, the information entropy based on different searching algorithms was estimated. RT was best predicted by a grouping search algorithm involving sampling and resampling of the inputs to find a coherent majority sample, compared to alternative algorithms (i.e., exhaustive or self-terminating search) (Fan et al., 2008a). The entropy estimates are 0, 1, 2.58, 1.58, 2.91, and 4.91 bits corresponding to 1:0, 3:0, 2:1, 5:0, 4:1, and 3:2 ratio conditions, and these estimates correspond to an increase in RT (Figure 2B).


An information theory account of cognitive control.

Fan J - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

The majority function task and reaction time as a function of information entropy. (A) In this task, arrows with set sizes of 1, 3, or 5 are randomly presented at 8 possible locations arranged in an octagon centered on a fixation cross. The arrows point either left or right, and are presented simultaneously. The participants' task is to indicate the direction in which the majority of arrows point. For example, if three arrows are presented, and two point to the left and one to the right (see the “2:1” panel in the “Set size 3” column), the correct response should be “left.” The eight circles illustrate the locations and are not displayed during the experiment. The label for each of the 6 conditions is the ratio of the numbers in each category. (B) Reaction time (RT) as a function of information entropy (estimated based on a group search strategy).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4151034&req=5

Figure 2: The majority function task and reaction time as a function of information entropy. (A) In this task, arrows with set sizes of 1, 3, or 5 are randomly presented at 8 possible locations arranged in an octagon centered on a fixation cross. The arrows point either left or right, and are presented simultaneously. The participants' task is to indicate the direction in which the majority of arrows point. For example, if three arrows are presented, and two point to the left and one to the right (see the “2:1” panel in the “Set size 3” column), the correct response should be “left.” The eight circles illustrate the locations and are not displayed during the experiment. The label for each of the 6 conditions is the ratio of the numbers in each category. (B) Reaction time (RT) as a function of information entropy (estimated based on a group search strategy).
Mentions: In addition to uncertainty due to dimensional competition in the stimuli or manipulations of stimulus frequency, there is also a need to consider uncertainty due to the algorithms of mental operation for tasks that involve higher level stages of uncertainty processing (Bach and Dolan, 2012), such as the majority function task (MFT, Fan et al., 2008a, 2014; Wang et al., 2011). In this task, participants are shown a number of left/right arrows and asked to indicate the direction in which the majority of the arrows are pointing (Figure 2A). Set size (1, 3, or 5 arrows) and congruency (the ratio of the number of left/right arrows) are varied across and within blocks of trials, respectively. A majority function can be computed that outputs 1 if and only if more than half the inputs are 1s. For example, given three input bits x, y, and z, the majority can be computed based on the formula majority(x, y, z) = (x ∧ y) ∨ (y ∧ z) ∨ (x ∧ z) (Wang et al., 2011). In a flanker task, the center arrow and the surrounding arrows are explicitly defined as target and task-irrelevant distracters. However, in the MFT, all arrows displayed in a set are possible task-relevant. Although the input information to be processed varies across conditions, the response is always only 1 bit (two alternatives, left/right). Using RT as a measure of cognitive control, the information entropy based on different searching algorithms was estimated. RT was best predicted by a grouping search algorithm involving sampling and resampling of the inputs to find a coherent majority sample, compared to alternative algorithms (i.e., exhaustive or self-terminating search) (Fan et al., 2008a). The entropy estimates are 0, 1, 2.58, 1.58, 2.91, and 4.91 bits corresponding to 1:0, 3:0, 2:1, 5:0, 4:1, and 3:2 ratio conditions, and these estimates correspond to an increase in RT (Figure 2B).

Bottom Line: Despite a considerable focus in the literature on the cognitive control of information processing, neural mechanisms underlying control are still unclear, and have not been characterized by considering the quantity of information to be processed.A novel and comprehensive account of cognitive control is proposed using concepts from information theory, which is concerned with communication system analysis and the quantification of information.This hypothesis and theory article justifies the validity and properties of such an account and relates experimental findings to the frontoparietal network under the framework of information theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Queens College, The City University of New York Flushing, NY, USA ; Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY, USA.

ABSTRACT
Our ability to efficiently process information and generate appropriate responses depends on the processes collectively called cognitive control. Despite a considerable focus in the literature on the cognitive control of information processing, neural mechanisms underlying control are still unclear, and have not been characterized by considering the quantity of information to be processed. A novel and comprehensive account of cognitive control is proposed using concepts from information theory, which is concerned with communication system analysis and the quantification of information. This account treats the brain as an information-processing entity where cognitive control and its underlying brain networks play a pivotal role in dealing with conditions of uncertainty. This hypothesis and theory article justifies the validity and properties of such an account and relates experimental findings to the frontoparietal network under the framework of information theory.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus