Complexity and cognition: A meta-theoretical analysis of the mind and brain as a topological dynamical system

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The application of theories of complexity to the study of cognition has only recently started but it has already caused high expectations and controversies. Currently an extensive evaluation of the theoretical status of these theories does not exist. In an attempt to fill in that gap, this text develops a meta-theoretical analysis that presents a reconstruction of the theories of complexity applied to cognition, establishing their theoretical status, conceptual cores, basic assumptions and explanation strategies. Freeman's theory of cerebral chaos will be analyzed first. Then a meta-theory generalization to neuro-cognitive theories will be presented. It will be sustained that the central theoretical core of cognitive complexity theories are based on the metaphor of the mind, the brain or cognition as a dynamic system, founded a time-space topology. The framework of this study is based on ontology of processes and an onto logical pluralism. The explicative strategies are supported by emergentistic approaches and nomological derivation based on mathematical laws. The prototypes of the theory are strongly backed up by computer simulations. This paper concludes by suggesting the existence of two antagonical perspectives (universalistic and pluralistic) in the core of these theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-90
Number of pages40
JournalNonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Brain dynamics
  • Chaos theory
  • Complexity theory
  • Dynamic approach to cognition
  • Meta-theoretical analysis


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