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12.1: Introduction

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    Most human cognitive abilities rely on or interact with what we call knowledge. How do people navigate through the world? How do they solve problems, how do they comprehend their surroundings and on which basis do people make decisions and draw inferences? For all these questions, knowledge, the mental representation of the world is part of the answer.

    What is knowledge? According to Merriam-Websters online dictionary, knowledge is “the range of one’s information and understanding” and “the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning”. Thus, knowledge is a structured collection of information, that can be acquired through learning, perception or reasoning.

    This chapter deals with the structures both in human brains and in computational models that represent knowledge about the world. First, the idea of concepts and categories as a model for storing and sorting information is introduced, then the concept of semantic networks and, closely related to these ideas, an attempt to explain the way humans store and handle information is made. Apart from the biological aspect, we are also going to talk about knowledge representation in artificial systems which can be helpful tools to store and access knowledge and to draw quick inferences.

    After looking at how knowledge is stored and made available in the human brain and in artificial systems, we will take a closer look at the human brain with regard to hemispheric specialisation. This topic is not only connected to knowledge representation, since the two hemispheres differ in which type of knowledge is stored in each of them, but also to many other chapters of this book. Where, for example, is memory located, and which parts of the brain are relevant for emotions and motivation? In this chapter we focus on the general differences between the right and the left hemisphere. We consider the question whether they differ in what and how they process information and give an overview about experiments that contributed to the scientific progress in this field.

    This page titled 12.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Wikipedia via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.