B2 - Neuroframes: a neuro-cognitive model of situated conceptualization

Frames, regarded as recursive attribute-value structures, allow for the semantic decomposition of nominal concepts and thus the categorization of objects. The project strives for an empirically plausible and philosophically motivated realization of frames on the neural level. Incorporating neurobiological data, primarily on visual object perception, mathematical methods of universal algebra, logic, model theory and topology as well as computational simulations in oscillatory networks are used to identify parts of the cortical reality with frame-based concept structures. Value spaces for attributes can be neurally traced to topologically structured “feature maps”. The simultaneous assignment of values from different attributes to the same object corresponds to the synchronization of neural activity. On this basis the neural correlates of frames with their attributes, values and object instantiations seem to be given. The project will increasingly also incorporate neurobiological findings on the premotor and motor cortex and thereby extend the frame-based approach to action concepts expressible by verbs. This extended notion of a neuroframe provides the foundation for a philosophically justified and empirically motivated theory that maintains a representationalist view on concepts and at the same time perceives them as situated, i.e., largely based on sensori-motor schemata. Mental concepts, here, fulfil a twofold function: they constitute the meanings of linguistic expressions – words, phrases and sentences – and they provide the contents of intentional states. The project conjoins a number of philosophical issues – the problem of lexical decomposition, modularity, semantic compositionality, and intentionality – with linguistic topics: that is, verb semantics and its relation to affordance aspects in the meanings of nouns. It will attempt to develop a biologically and philosophically plausible model for the realization of situated concepts in the brain.