The cognit: a network model of cortical representation

Int J Psychophysiol. 2006 May;60(2):125-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2005.12.015. Epub 2006 Apr 19.


The prevalent concept in modular models is that there are discrete cortical domains dedicated more or less exclusively to such cognitive functions as visual discrimination, language, spatial attention, face recognition, motor programming, memory retrieval, and working memory. Most of these models have failed or languished for lack of conclusive evidence. In their stead, network models are emerging as more suitable and productive alternatives. Network models are predicated on the basic tenet that cognitive representations consist of widely distributed networks of cortical neurons. Cognitive functions, namely perception, attention, memory, language, and intelligence, consist of neural transactions within and between these networks. The present model postulates that memory and knowledge are represented by distributed, interactive, and overlapping networks of neurons in association cortex. Such networks, named cognits, constitute the basic units of memory or knowledge. The association cortex of posterior-post-rolandic-regions contains perceptual cognits: cognitive networks made of neurons associated by information acquired through the senses. Conversely, frontal association cortex contains executive cognits, made of neurons associated by information related to action. In both posterior and frontal cortex, cognits are hierarchically organized. At the bottom of that organization-that is, in parasensory and premotor cortex-cognits are small and relatively simple, representing simple percepts or motor acts. At the top of the organization-in temporo-parietal and prefrontal cortex-cognits are wider and represent complex and abstract information of perceptual or executive character. Posterior and frontal networks are associated by long reciprocal cortico-cortical connections. These connections support the dynamics of the perception-action cycle in sequential behavior, speech, and reasoning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Networks, Computer*