Cognitive Biology: Surprising Model Organisms for Cognitive Science

William BechtelUniversity of California, San Diego

Abstract

Cognitive biology refers to investigations of cognitive pro-cesses in a wide range of model organisms from bacteria to plants and animals. Although this research has generally been beyond the scope of mainstream cognitive science, I argue that cognitive science would benefit from integrating investi-gations into model organisms and focus on what can be learned from surprising model organisms—bacteria and in-vertebrates. Evolution is a highly conserved process, and the mechanisms developed in our common ancestors with these species provide the foundation for many of our cognitive ac-tivities. Since these organisms lack some of the complications that have evolved in us, research on them can help reveal key features of our cognitive mechanisms.

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