Cognitive Functions According to Neuroscience

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    • Published: 01-07-2015 06:35 am
      Updated: 01-08-2015 05:48 am
    • Here's how I'd explain the cognitive functions at the moment: a cognitive function is a "thought pattern" or a method of breaking down information and understanding it. The reason you'll find this somewhat different from other websites is this project is based on modern neuroscience, where the jungian cognitive functions were built around 1940-70's psychology. We at Neojungian Typology think the entire system requires a complete overhaul to be of use to modern psychology.

      Most everyday actions we do today are the result of cognitive functions interacting together, and therefore, things are rather complex: working out isn't "Extroverted Sensing" or "Thinking Extroverted" activity, but working out can stimulate you on those levels, depending on how you work out and how you lay down your workout session. You may use different functions nearing the beginning of your workout and nearing your end. But most of the time, you're using your functions together so much it may even be hard to separate Introverted Intuition from Extroverted Sensing. These functions are not opposites - they're complementary, and you've got them all, but you have preferences!

      Intuition, Feeling, Thinking and Sensing is about activities we enjoy. So what do the different forms of encoding/perception deal with?

      Association Functions: The association dichotomy relates to how we take in and create information. Association types label and map out information, registering how things look, where in the room things are placed, and it also understands sensory information (for example, bodily sensations)

      Encoding Functions: The encoding dichotomy relates to how we use and store information. What responses does an action or a sensation trigger within us? Encoding functions also seek to validate information "is this information good or bad?" "Does this information live up to the rules/criteria i've set on information, for it to be valid?"

      Abstract Association (MBTI Intuition): This process relies on the mentalization network for perception activities, and if you're an abstract type, that means you enjoy interpretting information. Abstract association can be used to for example generalize on information, by taking specific actions and systemizing it into patterns or trends. Abstract association enjoys filling out the blank, leaving things unspoken, not following through on a meaning, and it enjoys dealing with new information. Abstract association has some basic capacity for logical thinking, for example solving sudokus or puzzles, by understanding which information is most similar to which other forms of information, but those activities often also require some form of mechanic encoding working in tandem.

       An object can have symbolic properties to an abstract type, meaning abstract association can express itself through making implications and by being creative with how to use a word or a symbol.

      Concrete Association (MBTI Sensing): This process relies on the mirror-neuron network for perception activities, and if you're a concrete type, that means you enjoy specificity of information. Concrete association can be used to map out specific pieces of information, to gain an overview of an environment and it's limitations. Concrete association enjoys following a thought through to the end, to ensure nothing is missed out on. It checks and re:checks information to ensure it doesn't change, and it pays attention to differences. Concrete association tends to be better at narrowing down an answer or project, where abstract association can start with one answer, but change it around much as they go. Concrete associatoin could impact how many projects you take on, and how likely you are to go outside your instructions and plans, and it also narrows interests and personality down, making you more consistent and sustainable.

      Organic Encoding (MBTI Feeling): This process relies on the mentalization network for encoding activities, and if you're an organic type, that means you enjoy thinking about how to express or react to information. The Organic type tends to think holistically, taking the room and situation into account, allowing it to understand relativity. Rather than to think in absolute truths, it tries to consider individual truths, and how truth is relative to them and their current level of understanding. Organic processes tend to engage the episodic memory, which stores informations as situational, and organic types can therefore enjoy remembering times or specific moments that they find meaningful relative to how they are feeling right now. Organic functions do tend to perform better at understanding emotional problems, taking their mood or current personality into account, and adjusting their behavior accordingly.

      Source. Organic Types enjoy finding secret ways to communicate with others, and they enjoy creating humor and activities that are only understood by a select few people.

      Mechanic Encoding (MBTI Thinking): This process relies on the mirror-neuron network for encoding activities, and if you're a mechanic type, that means you enjoy forming rules for how information should behave. For the mechanic type, these rules tend to be absolute rather than situational. Rules can be for example how long time an activity should take, or how it should be set up. Mechanic functions engage the procedural memory, which is about remembering how to do an activity, for example remembering to lock the door when you head out, or rembering to put out the lights. It also does well at semantic thinking, grammar and classification systems. And I also speculate that Mechanic functions seem well equipped to deal with understanding deadlines, restrictions, and rules that limit your behavior and conduct in social situations. You may for example use mechanic functions to think about how much energy you have in current.

      A speculation we're testing right now is if we could assume that mechanic types are better at understanding physical emotions, such as pain, racing heart beats, and similar, where organic types are better at understanding inner emotions, such as anxiety, sadness and things that may not be as explicit.

      I'll try to cover the other functions in upcoming posts! I hope you found these explanations helpful and if you have any questions feel free to comment. Feel free to take our Self-reporting test, though bear with us that the questions are still somewhat difficult (interestingly enough, they seem to be the hardest for those with organic execution (FJ)

      Update 1: Updated to add semantic and emotional thinking into the descriptions.
    • Christian likes this post.
    • Published: 01-08-2015 05:41 am
    • Part two

      The task dichotomy

      Execution (Juding in the MBTI):
      Execution types exhibit overall higher working memory than other types, at the expense of having a somewhat slower ability to process information. Execution functions are selective, they create tasks to focus on, ignoring irrelevant information. Execution functions are as a result, goal oriented with how they use their association and encoding functions. Execution functions are on top of this, able to motivate and control rewards for successful tasks. Information for execution types, are studied by how relevant they are to the tasks the execution type are dealing with. Association tasks are for the execution type more about simulating a scenario or event, for example memorizing how to complete an activity, and encoding tasks are more about how to execute or apply a simulation for the environment to be properly affected by it. High use of execution functions tends to cause the type to become tense but focused.

      This execution task is related to goal-driven attention and activity in the frontoparietal network

      Processing (Perceiving in the MBTI): Processing types are drawn to experiencing environmental stimulation. This requires them to have an as low working memory as possible, at the benefit of having a faster ability to process and break-down information in real time. Processing types will as a result pursue goals that are within close range to them. Their understanding of what happens in the environment will be less shaped by their previous memories or ideas of how the situation used to be, allowing them to react quicker to environmental changes. Processing types are less able to control their motivation and to self-motivate for tasks. High use of Processing tends to relax the processing types, making them appear more approachable.

      The processing task is related to stimuli-driven attention and activity in the dorsal attention network
      (DAN) or ventral attention network (VAN).

      Image source

      Is photography more of a processing or execution oriented task? Most likely, photography is a more complex activity which requires us to switch between both tasks. It seems to be particularily stimulating for Abstract, organic processors (AOP-COE's), though.

      Cognitive and Affective Functions

      Cognition (Introversion in the MBTI): Cognitive types are able to break information down into many different layers, allowing them to look at information from different perspectives. Cognitive functions thrive when in environments that are low on outer stimulation. Using cognitive functions or being around cognitive types tends to make others feel recharged and refreshed energetically, as the mind is under less pressure to deal with environmental tasks. Cognitive functions offer alot of input on an informations validity and reliability, allowing cognitive types to feedback and simulate on tasks with their encoding and association function.

      Cognitive types overall have low saliency, which makes them less excited by outer stimuli, and more likely to engage in task-negative states, such as daydreaming.

      Affectivity (Extroversion in the MBTI): Affective types are able to quickly act on information, moving reflexively to new information, without needing to consider or evaluate it's effectiveness first. Affective functions excert energy, causing stress on themselves, requiring them to at some point of time recharge their energy. Affective types tend to be confident in their ability to handle this stress without problem, acting without reflecting on their energy levels. Affective encoding and association can output alot of information to the outer world, alerting others on their mood, energy, or vibes, giving them stage presence and making others pay more attention to them.

      Affective types overall have high saliency, which makes them more excited by outer stimuli, and more likely to engage in task-positive states, silencing internal reflection and thoughts when engaging in external tasks.

      How quick would your reactions be if you got into a race car? Driving is a complex activity which generally engages you on both an affective level and a mirror-neuron (concrete and mechanic) level, indicating that Abstract Mechanic Execution (AME) and Concrete Organic Processing (COP) should make you more successful at this task.
    • Christian likes this post.
    • Published: 01-30-2015 11:07 am
      Updated: 02-01-2015 05:30 am
    • Part three

      Neojungian Typology Functional Descriptions

      In this part, we add and we pair up the encoding and association dichotomies with the execution, processing, cognitive and affective dichotomies, nailing down the neojungian functions.

      Affective Processing: (Extroverted iNtuition or Sensing~*)

      When engaging in Affective Processing, we are taking in information from a bottom-up perspective, trying to experience the situation without relying on pre-conceived opinions and memories that filter or disrupt our understanding of the situation. After taking in sensory information, the information is processed with high saliency, causing us to react quickly to obvious changes in a situation, such as weather, violence, high sounds, or other pressing activities. The high saliency makes the information appear pressing, causing us to move reflexively, acting reflexively to changes rather than waiting to process the situation before moving on, due to the high saliency, the affective processing state will make the person using it visually display alot of energy, making dominant body movements, high sounds and other things that may attract attention.

      Abstract Affective Processing: (Extroverted Intuition~)

      As the information from the world is being processed, it goes into the neocortex, holding our association memory, and this is used to process how we process information, and how it should be processed in the future. The Abstract Association is responsible for thinking about how we think about information, and about changing how we process information to better manage new situations. This causes known information to be interpreted information from a meta-perspective. (i.e., being able to think about how you’re thinking about sensory information.) This is done in at a fast and general pace, impacting their behavior on a general level. In comparison to Abstract Cognitive Execution, it does not require a high amount of work-memory usage, causing abstract processing to adapt more quickly to new information.

      Concrete Affective Processing: (Extroverted Sensing~)

      Being a less-developed field, we are still looking to develop our understanding of Concrete Affective Processing. On a theoretical level, we would speculate that the information for a Concrete Processor is used to reinforce habits, patterns, and information, making it useful for learning and mastering tasks in our daily lives. Concrete Affective Processing appears responsible for thinking about information, saving information, and withdrawing the right information when necessary. In comparison with Concrete Cognitive Execution, it does not require a high amount of work-memory usage, causing Concrete Processing to more quickly attend to information.

      Cognitive Processing: (Introverted Thinking or Feeling~)

      When information around us is less pressing, and sounds are lower, we generally engage in cognitive processing, causing us to more easily reflect on sensory information in low saliency. In these situations, we will generally be quiet, expressing low outward energy. Being in this state makes us less willing to make movements or to articulate information to others, taking our time to think about answers and actions, until we are sure that the information we’re acting on is correct.

      Image source: Flickr.

      Consider that sometimes we have a chance to prepare for a situation, the moment before it's time to start acting. In these moments, through the use of Cognitive responses, we can focus before hand on the lines we need to say, the gestures we need to make, or the emotions and underlying motives that we need to convey to the group.

      Mechanic Cognitive Processing: (Introverted Thinking~)

      Low salience sensory information is processed through the mirror-neuron network, particularily adept at tracking time, motion, and action, registering and determining the properties of information, and understanding the rules that govern the existance of different forms of information, and this information is stored as a procedural memory. MGP can process this sensory information in a task-positive state, allowing it to make deliberate motions and actions, whilst observing the results of these actions.

      Organic Cognitive Processing: (Introverted Feeling~)

      Information of low salience is processed through the mentalisation network, which is particularily adept for understanding and processing episodic memories, such as particular situations, events, but rather than study the visible motion, time or properties of these memories, organic encoding causes cognitive processing to focus on the mental state that may have given rise to the events, and other underlying factors that may have caused the behavior to occur. Whilst this happens, OGP is in a task-negative state, where it’s unlikely to make deliberate motions and sensory-motory actions, causing the person to be somewhat unaware of their own actions and movements.

      Cognitive Execution: (Introverted intuition or sensing~)

      Cognitive Execution is associated with high working-memory usage, in particular in goal-oriented tasks. It relies on processing information in a low-salience state, making the information appear less pressing, and making the person express little visible energy outwards. GE relies on a top-down approach to information, thinking more about how information should be processed, based on the persons pre-conceived information, and it’s associative judgements (labelling and organization) on what is important or valuable, filtering out things that aren’t.

      Abstract Cognitive Execution: (Introverted iNtuition~)

      In the state of a high working memory, information is processed in the neocortex, where the AGE can process how to process it’s information, and pre-conceived judgements, in particular, dealing with questions such as: “How am I going about achieving my goals?” This information is then used to build new neural pathways, storing and making new memories and judgements of a situation, and making them look at information from new perspectives once the process is complete and a new goal or judgement has been made. As it is a low-salience, cognitive process, the changes tend to be subtle or small, nuances that change over time.

      Concrete Cognitive Execution: (Introverted Sensing~)

      The high working memory of execution is used for CGE to reinforce and rehearse a memory so that it can be accessed quickly and accurately in future situations, setting up and repeating goals internally, learning through emotional conditioning, utilizing the mirror-neuron network to register the sensations simultaneously as they are processing sensory information. As it is a low salience process, it tends to focus on learning and practising nuanced, small, subtle goals, that will develop slowly, over time.

      Affective Execution: (Extroverted Thinking or Feeling~)

      Affective Execution is associated with utilising the working memory to attend to high-salience situations, where we reflexively make directed actions based on our judgements and our set up understanding of the situation and our goals. These actions usually change or maintain the situation in some way, for example influencing the group or sensory properties in the situation, and it makes us somewhat impatient to move or to act out our interests in the desired manner.

      Mechanic Affective Execution: (Extroverted Thinking~)

      In particular, MFE attends to mirror-neuron tasks, such as registering the time, the properties of objects, their motions, and how particular actions can cause these motions to change. When doing this, MFE’s are in a task-positive state where they are aware of their own and outer actions and behavior on a physical level. This allows them to deliberately make motions and to evaluate and score their behavior while it is happening. Furthermore, while in this situation, they are in a high-salience state where the judgements they set are general overviews of performance, which are easy to understand.

      Organic Affective Execution: (Extroverted Feeling~)

      When in an executive, goal-oriented state, organic thinking connects to the mentalisation network to process the situation from an episodic perspective, acting out images, motives, or other underlying needs in their environment, in a task-negative state, where they tend to be unaware of their behavior or bodily motions, and where they are unable to evaluate or score their performance in any concrete manner. Because of this, they can focus on processing on the underlying feelings or interests of others, but this is done on a high-salience perspective, where the judgements are general and values-based, but quick and reflexive; the person makes a judgement on how they are perceived, and then they quickly adapt to this perspective in a convergent or divergent manner.

       Image source: Flickr.

      In a system, there are multiple goals, different objects that interact with one another in different ways. Our working memory contains some of these objects, rules and information, allowing us to focus/look at the things that are relevant to it. Every lego soldier in this picture sees things from a different perspective, everyone is focused on something different, and everyone's goals are different, some tasks require different functions. Which of the soldiers do you think are using which functions?

      Hope you found this interesting, and feel free to ask questions or feedback on the descriptions outlined here. :)

      * For contrasting purposes, the processes outlined here translate to functions used in the MBTI/Jungian Cognitive Function models, but in particular, there are key differences on how to view introversion, extroversion, execution, and processing.
    • Christian likes this post.
    • Published: 02-01-2015 02:50 am
    • I think this is great, makes a lot of sense on many levels, the only thing I'm confused about is the relationship to the MBTI functions. MBTI doesn't really include functions anymore but many people associate Jungs cognitive functions with MBTI anyway so it's perfectly fine to do that.

      Here is the mapping to functions outlined in the post

      Affective Processing = Ne or Se
      Abstract Affective Processing = Ne
      Concrete Affective Processing = Se

      Cognitive Processing = Te or Fe (is this a typo? - shouldn't it be Ti or Fi?)
      Mechanic Cognitive Processing = Ti
      Organic Cognitive Processing = Fi

      Cognitive Execution = Ni or Si
      Abstract Cognitive Execution = Ni
      Concrete Cognitive Execution = Si

      Affective Execution = Ni or Si
      Mechanic Affective Execution = Te
      Organic Affective Execution = Fe

      The idea I had with the Cognitive & Affective dichotomy was first of all to extract testable traits for third and fourth function. So if you have Te in your first of second function-order it's Cognitive (meaning it gives you more energy) while if you have it as third or fourth it's Affective (meaning it gives you less energy). By having them as distinct traits it's possible to test them, if one finds a definition (we have some work left there).

      So I think the difference between Cognitive and Affective Processing for example depends on where it is in your stack, having Ne as first or second would imply it's more reflective and controlled while having it as third of fourth means it would be more reflexive and automatic. So I would map Ne, Se, Fi, Ti to both Cognitive and Affective Processing, Ni, Si, Fe, Te to Cognitive and Affective Execution. I would say that Jung was partly wrong with his Introversion / Extroversion dichotomy and that how he defines Te, Fe is actually introverted like Si and Ni and how he defined Ti, Fi is actually extroverted like Se and Fe.

      This is because what Jung describes as Extroversion is very similar to the concept of bottom-up attention in neuroscience and what he describes as Introversion is very similar to top-down attention in neuroscience, he though for some reason maps Thinking and Feeling wrong to those dichotomies.
    • Published: 02-01-2015 05:24 am
    • Oh yeah, that's a typo. I don't mind contrasting and keeping MBTI, JCF, Socionics and other models interrelated, for contrasting purposes mostly, I see that's how most people use it, even many of those certified within the MBTI. Since the MBTI was developed based on Jung, and the maths are in check, it makes sense.

      As I've been getting more into the maths, I've noticed that there are definite problems when you get into your secondary, tertiary or inferior modes when it comes to extroversion and introversion. Yes, I've also been confusing the bottom-up, top-down for the old definitions of extroversion/introversion. It's a result of him not fully understanding the execution/processing dynamics / failing to account for them, he ends up using introversion/extroversion to account for it instead. These are translation problems when I contrast our definitions with the JCF-system. I should add a disclaimer to make people aware of this.
    • Christian likes this post.
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