- how a child evolves the skill of using language: at first he just accompanies gestures with inarticulate shouts, then progressively uses articulated words but still as an almost-automatic companion to gestures, then progressively learns how the words he articulates can produce effects on the environment by their own, etc
- memories do not necessarily have to be associated with a sensory modality: e.g. the memory of a phone number, or of a theorem, are not associated with neither vision, nor sound, nor touch, etc.
- cognition as the activity of storing and manipulating mental entities; these mental entities are all interconnected and thus operating on one entity also involves operating on many other entities, much in the way one would operate on a physical entity which is physically connected to other physical entities. In this metaphor, some of the mental entities are accurate representations of physical entities by effectively integrating immediate sensations, while other mental entities may be "purely mental"; in this way the line between a physical action and a cognitive process is blurred, and, at the limit, eliminated all together.
- coordination defines entities, and various kinds of coordination define various types of entities. e.g. an actuator is a physical entity for which the mechanical parts act in coordination in order to achieve a goal, i.e. each movement of each part contributes to achieving the actuator's final objective
- attention as a coordinator of cognitive sub-processes; similarity with the role of the central nervous system: whereas the CNS coordinates mechanical components (the body parts), attention coordinates processes (the mental processes)
- distributed coordination mechanisms as an alternative to centralized coordination mechanisms: for example, fish swarms, or bird flocks, exhibit spatio-temporal coordination by virtue of a distributed system represented by a set of rules that is followed by each element in the swarm. In other words, although coordination in a multi-element entity may be achieved via a central coordination mechanism that gives different instructions to each element, it may also be achieved by having one single set of rules that is followed by every element.
- note that the requirements for the elements' control structures in the two cases above are very different: whereas in the first case differentiation is not only allowed but also beneficial, in the second case the elements should have a more-or-less common control structure in order to be able to execute a set of commands that is common for all of them. This observation also leads to a third model for the elements which is a generalization of the first two, where each element includes both a specialized control structure (to be used for receiving specific control messages) and a common control structure (used to receive non-differentiated control messages).
- the analysis of the centralized coordination mechanisms can be made from an evolutionist perspective: while a body of [nearly] identical elements can be coordinated by a uniformly distributed mechanism (e.g. a set of rules that governs a homogeneous environment in which the elements operate), as specialization occurs among the body elements the control signals that they will receive will also have to become specialized; this specialization of control signals, together with the need for coordination of the body elements, may constitute an evolutionist pressure that drives the appearance of a centralized control structure as we know it in the evolved creatures (note that this approach can be used to analyze the way societies of living beings are organized, depending on the level of specialization of their members).
- an evolutionist approach to intelligence: what are its parts (or components, or "organs"), how might these parts have evolved as a response to evolutionist pressures (and how attention might have evolved as the coordinator of these organs), what kind of evolutionist pressures was intelligence subjected to - both as a whole and its comprising parts, how did the evolution of intelligence (and its components) might have pressured the evolution of its material substrate, etc
- the importance of specialization, and the implication that there may be several distinct mechanism responsible for the various abilities that an agent possesses; however, also note that evolution is incremental, such that many sub-modules may well be reused
- an intriguing aspect when investigating language from an evolutionist perspective: whereas most of the features/abilities that a living being possesses can be analyzed as an evolutionary advantage that an individual gains in its relations with a given environment, for language to be evolutionarily useful it apparently requires that a rather large number of individuals all gain the ability of language simultaneously. However, there are (at least) two immediate objections that can be brought to the above remark: 1) a harmless mutation can well spread in a population even if it's not immediately useful, and only become an evolutionary advantage after a certain period of time when the environment (as a whole) "is ready to make use of it", and 2) maybe one should also investigate the emergence of language as a form of communication with a given environment instead of with other individuals, or as a form of making better use of the information that an individual is learning, or even as a form of "communicating with oneself"
- note: the remark that a harmless mutation may propagate throughout a population without any immediate benefits, while providing a delayed evolutionary advantage, should be kept in mind when analyzing other traits apart from language
- a wonderful and not immediately obvious example of how apparently non-conflicting features do actually conflict, and thus one of them can loose ground in face of the other in the course of evolution (in this example, trichromacy vs bicrhomacy):
In the case of primate color vision, trichromacy based on the "new" M and L pigments (along with the S pigment) presumably conferred a selective advantage over dichromats in some environments. The colors of ripe fruit, for example, frequently contrast with the surrounding foliage, but dichromats are less able to see such contrast because they have low sensitivity to color differences in the red, yellow and green regions of the visual spectrum. An improved ability to identify edible fruit would likely aid the survival of individuals harboring the mutations that confer trichromacy and lead to the spread of those mutant genes in the population.
Scientific American - Color Vision: How Our Eyes Reflect Primate Evolution