The dynamical hypothesis in cognitive science

T. Van Gelder, W. Bechtel, R. D. Beer, N. Braisby, R. Cooper, B. Franks, B. Bridgeman, A. Bundy, N. Chater, U. Hahn, R. L. Chrisley, J. P. Crutchfield, K. Davids, S. Bennett, D. C. Dennett, E. Dietrich, A. B. Markman, J. R. Eiser, C. Eliasmith, D. R. FranceschettiR. M. French, E. Thomas, J. W. Garson, R. A. Heath, T. Horgan, J. Tienson, R. Jaeger, F. A. Keijzer, S. Ben, L. Van der Heijden, M. Mitchell, G. R. Mulhauser, D. C. Noelle, G. O'Brien, J. Petitot, S. R. Quartz, B. Shanon, T. Smithers, F. Van der Velde, M. De Kamps, M. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


According to the dominant computational approach in cognitive science, cognitive agents are digital computers; according to the alternative approach, they are dynamical systems. This target article attempts to articulate and support the dynamical hypothesis. The dynamical hypothesis has two major components: the nature hypothesis (cognitive agents are dynamical systems) and the knowledge hypothesis (cognitive agents can be understood dynamically). A wide range of objections to this hypothesis can be rebutted. The conclusion is that cognitive systems may well be dynamical systems, and only sustained empirical research in cognitive science will determine the extent to which that is true.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-665
Number of pages51
JournalBehavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


  • Cognition
  • Computability
  • Computational systems
  • Computers
  • Dynamical systems
  • Modeling
  • Systems
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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