Posted August 8, 2012 by Natalie Geld in cognitive neuroscience

Stan Franklin, PhD: Consciousness, LIDA Model of Cognition and a Non-linear Dynamics View

As always, I’m thinking about how minds work. Our evolving answer to that question is in the form of a broad based, systems level cognitive model at a more conceptual level than brains, but still based on the underlying neuroscience."LIDA model of cognition Stan Franklin"

As part of its function, our LIDA model of cognition explicates the role of consciousness in cognition, following Global Workspace Theory. Such an ambitious model, by its nature, will always be full of gaps in our understanding of cognitive processes. LIDA evolves mostly by our filling those gaps. Today’s gaps involve motivation, causal processing, spatial cognition, and motor plans. When these are filled, there will be more. There’s plenty to keep us busy.
Cognitive neuroscience can’t be studied at the level of neurons and synapses. How then should it be studied? An answer is beginning to emerge. A non-linear dynamics view, a la Freeman, Kelso and Buzsaki , applied to Fuster’s cognits, may well do the trick.
I’m inspired by all of those mentioned above, but most significantly by Bernie Baars.


athematician turned computer scientist turning cognitive scientist, Stan Franklin holds the W. Harry Feinstone Interdisciplinary Research Professorship at the University of Memphis, was a winner of its Eminent Faculty Award, and was a founder of its Institute for Intelligent Systems. Wanting to know how minds work — human minds, animal minds and, particularly, artificial minds — motivates his research.

For some years he’s worked on “conscious” software agents, that is, autonomous agents modeling Global Workspace Theory, a psychological theory of the role of consciousness in "Artificial Minds Stan Franklin Book Image"cognition. Implementing the broad, integrative LIDA model of cognition, these agents conceptually and computationally model human and animal cognition, and provide testable hypotheses for cognitive scientists and neuroscientists. This endeavor, funded by the US Navy, has been the subject of some sixty papers in scientific journals and reviewed conference proceedings. His MS and PhD are from UCLA, his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis. He has authored or co-authored some hundred and fifty academic papers that have been cited almost 5000 times. His Artificial Minds, published by MIT Press and still in print, was a primary selection of the Library of Science book club, and has been translated into Japanese and Portuguese.

He serves on the editorial boards of seven international professional journals including Topics in Cognitive Science, the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, the Journal of Mind Theory, Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures, and the Journal of Artificial General Intelligence. Stan has organized or given plenary addresses at major conferences and workshops, and has mentored twenty students to their PhDs. He currently serves on the IEEE CIS Technical Committee for Autonomous Mental Development and on the IEEE CIS Task Force on Towards Human-like Intelligence.

Most importantly, Stan leads the efforts of the Cognitive Computing Research Group at the University of Memphis, and beyond, in its development of the broad-based, systems level, conceptual and computational, LIDA model of cognition. It’s our ongoing, but unending, ever evolving, ever more successful, attempt to answer the question, “How do minds work?”

How Minds Work

How Minds Work: A Cognitive Theory of Everything
The IDA model of cognition is a fully integrated artificial cognitive system reaching across the full spectrum of cognition, from low-level perception/action to high-level reasoning. Extensively based on empirical data, it accurately reflects the full range of cognitive processes found in natural cognitive systems. It’s meant to be a cognitive theory of everything. As a source of plausible explanations for very many cognitive processes, the IDA model provides an ideal tool to think with about how minds work.

This online tutorial offers a reasonably full account of the IDA conceptual model, including background material. It also provides a high-level account of the underlying computational “mechanisms of mind” that constitute the IDA computational model. Finally, it includes an account of LIDA, the Learning IDA extension.

"LIDA model of cognition Stan Franklin"
Introduction provides a brief account of why one might want to devote time to this tutorial.
Brief Tutorial displays the LIDA Cognitive Cycle diagram. Clicking on the name of a module or process in the list on the left focuses the display and provides explanatory text.
Full Tutorial consists mostly of PowerPoint presentations prepared by Stan Franklin for a class on How Minds Work during Spring 2005 together with audio versions of his lectures.
Neural Correlates provides information about how parts the LIDA model are currently believed to correspond to brain regions.
Glossary lists definitions and examples of the various terms used in the tutorial for the convenience of the reader working his or her way through the tutorial. Links are to various urls that might be of interest to the reader of the tutorial.
CCRG Home takes the reader to the home page of the CCRG web site where much more detailed information about the IDA and LIDA models can be found, including references and texts of research articles and paper, and brief biographies of the researchers.
Copyright © 2012 Cognitive Computing Research Group All rights reserved

Cognitive Computing Research Group

Cognitive Computing Research Group


n autonomous agent senses and acts upon its environment in the service of its own agenda. An autonomous agent with human-like cognitive capabilities is called a cognitive agent. By a “conscious” software agent, we mean one designed within the constraints of Bernard Baars’ Global Workspace Theory of consciousness and cognition. The CCRG’s research revolves around the design and implementation of cognitive, sometimes “conscious,” software agents, their computational applications, and their use in cognitive modeling.

Like the Roman god Janus, cognitive computing projects can have two faces, their science face and their engineering face. The science face fleshes out the global workspace theory of consciousness into a full cognitive model of how minds work. (Please see the tutorial.) The engineering face of cognitive computing explores architectural designs for software information agents and cognitive robots that promise more flexible, more human-like intelligence within their domains. This fleshed out global workspace theory is yielding hopefully testable hypotheses about human cognition. The architectures and mechanisms that underlie intelligence and consciousness in humans can be expected to yield information agents, and cognitive robots that learn continualy, adapt readily to dynamic environments, and behave flexibly and intelligently when faced with novel and unexpected situations. Applications, both in progress and planned, are to various fields, including cognitive robotics and querying image databases with images rather than text.


May 18, 2012
An update to the LIDA software framework, version 1.2 beta, is now available for download!
Check it out here.

June, 29, 2011
A LIDA tutorial was given at AGI-11."CCRG"

Favorite Tutorial

"Tutorial on Neuroscience by Tutis Vilis"

The Physiology of the Senses
Transformations for Perception and Action

Tutis Vilis

A favorite tutorial of mine on neuroscience:

Tutis Vilis

Publications & Press

Professional Links:

Click to view all of my recent professional publications.

Links to press coverage, some of which might be of interest.

Cognitive Computing Research Group (CCRG)

Suggested Reads

Suggested Reads & Reviews

  • Shanahan, M. (2010). Embodiment and the Inner Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reviews are available from the IJMC including one by me.
  • Blackmore, S. (2003). Consciousness: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A useful elementary text with exercises.