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PI Lecture with Marcel Brass, “The cognitive neuroscience of implementing novel instructions”
One fundamental difference between human and non-human animals is the ability of humans to instantaneously implement instructed behaviour. While other animals acquire new behaviour via effortful trial-and-error learning or extensive practice, humans can implement novel behaviour based on instructions. This ability is presumably a key aspect of cultural learning. In my talk, I will discuss the neuro-cognitive basis of implementing novel instructions. I will provide evidence for the hypothesis that instruction following requires a reformatting of symbolic/declarative representations into a procedural format. This procedural format is capacity limited and shows characteristics of a ‘prepared reflex’. I will discuss potential implications of these findings for artificial systems.