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Letting structure emerge: connectionist and dynamical systems approaches to cognition.
Connectionist and dynamical systems approaches explain human thought, language and behavior in terms of the emergent consequences of a large number of simple noncognitive processes. We view the entities that serve as the basis for structured probabilistic approaches as abstractions that are occasionally useful but often misleading: they have no real basis in the actual processes that give rise to linguistic and cognitive abilities or to the development of these abilities. Although structured probabilistic approaches can be useful in determining what would be optimal under certain assumptions, we propose that connectionist, dynamical systems, and related approaches, which focus on explaining the mechanisms that give rise to cognition, will be essential in achieving a full understanding of cognition and development.