Piero Scaruffi(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"
The US gestalt psychologist Edward Tolman can be credited with coining (in 1932) the concept of a “cognitive map”: a rat knows how to navigate a maze because it maintains a cognitive map that covers much more than the rat has ever experienced directly. Tolman proved that rats build a cognitive map of an environment even without any reward, simply because they “were there”.
A cognitive map is a mental representation of the world in which we live.
Cognitive maps both represent and participate in the creation of our experience of the world. A cognitive map is created and continuously improved through the individual’s experience and by interaction with other cognitive maps. At the same time, the cognitive map “is” the world, insofar as the individual is concerned. The map is how the world appears to be to the individual. The individual only knows her or his map of the world. This map thus works as an anticipatory schema, that determines what we expect to see and, ultimate, what we indeed see.
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