Two views on the cognitive brain

David L. Barack, John W. Krakauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cognition can be defined as computation over meaningful representations in the brain to produce adaptive behaviour. There are two views on the relationship between cognition and the brain that are largely implicit in the literature. The Sherringtonian view seeks to explain cognition as the result of operations on signals performed at nodes in a network and passed between them that are implemented by specific neurons and their connections in circuits in the brain. The contrasting Hopfieldian view explains cognition as the result of transformations between or movement within representational spaces that are implemented by neural populations. Thus, the Hopfieldian view relegates details regarding the identity of and connections between specific neurons to the status of secondary explainers. Only the Hopfieldian approach has the representational and computational resources needed to develop novel neurofunctional objects that can serve as primary explainers of cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-371
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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