Fractals in Cognitive Science

Annette Hohenberger and Halil Düzcü

METU, Informatics Institute, Cognitive Science Program

May 17, 2012, Thursday, 11:40-12:30
Institute of Applied Math, S209

Fractals are self-similar structures with a precise definition in mathematics. They are ubiquitous in nature: coastlines, clouds, flowers, bodily organs, and many more, exhibit self-similarity. Their existence in the cognitive sciences, however, is just beginning to be revealed and their significance is not yet fully appreciated.

In our talk, we will distinguish two kinds of self-similarity: geometrical and statistical self-similarity. An example of the former is the Koch curve; an example of the latter is the power law scaling of probability density functions observed in the temporal patterns of cognitive processes. We will present examples of such power-laws in eye-gaze patterns and response latencies (reaction times) and explain what they possibly reveal about the functioning of the mind.

We will discuss with the audience how the concept of fractals may raise the mutual awareness of cognitive and natural scientists of the similarity of the processes they are studying in their respective areas.