Term Definition Example

Action selection

The selecting of an action during a single cognitive cycle

Saccade of the eyes, a sniff


A general term for arousal through feelings and emotions


The process of attending to some portion of the incoming percept and of local associations

Attention codelet

A codelet that attempts to train attention on some particular kind of information

Expectation codelet, intention codelet

Automatized action

An action that requires no environmental information

Walking in an adult animal is mostly automatized

Autonomous agent

A system situated in, and part of, an environment, which senses that environment, and acts on it, over time, in pursuit of its own agenda, so as to affect what it senses in the future.

Animals, humans, some mobile robots, some software agents


Goal context, a collection of behavior codelets that can achieve a particular goal

Behavior codelet

A codelet that can execute some particular, specialized task

Behavior stream

A goal context hierarchy

Bottom-up perception

Perception occurring during a single cognitive cycle

Immediate recognition

Coalition of codelets

Consists of attention codelet(s) together with information codelets that compete to have their content attended to


The entire, sometimes complex, process of choosing what to do next on the basis of sensory input

Cognitive Cycle

The continual sense-cognize-act cycle of every waking autonomous agent

In animals, humans, autonomous robots, software agents

Competition for attention

A competition to decide what perceptual information and local associations are to be attended to

Information carrying more affect have an advantage

Conscious content

Information from working memory buffers and local associations that is broadcast during each cognitive cycle

Perceptual information, memories of events


Functional consciousness whose role is specified in Global Workspace theory and in the IDA cognitive cycle


The movement of transient episodic memory contents to declarative memory

Content-addressable memory

A memory the contents of which can be found by cuing with part of the desired content without knowing a memory address

Episodic memory in we humans

Declarative memory

Episodic memory long-term memory capability

Deliberative process

Options may be constructed and evaluated, and plans created

Portia jumping spider stalking prey


A primitive motive generator

Hunger, mating


Feelings with cognitive content

Fear, anger, shame

Episodic learning

The encoding of events in episodic memory

Episodic memory

Associative, content-addressable, memory for events, the what, the where, the when

Where food was cached

Expectation codelet

An attention codelet that watches for the result of some behavior(s)


Specific arousals as implementations of motivation and of learning modulation

Hunger, fear, urge to mate, pleasure, pain


Desire to restructure the environment, or an agent’s relation to it, in some particular way

To drink orange juice

Goal context

A potential goal, consisting of a coalition procedures which, together, could accomplish the goal

Goal context hierarchies

Connected streams of goal contexts (behaviors), can be thought of as high-level, partial plans of actions

Information codelets

Codelets that carry information and participate in coalitions that compete for attention

Informationally mediated action

Requires information from the environment for its enactment

A predator in pursuit of prey


The resolve of an animal (agent) to achieve some particular goal

Intention to drink orange juice

Intention codelet

An attention codelet that watches for information relevant to achieving some particular goal

Long-term working memory

Memory buffer than holds percepts and local associations for the competition of attention


An interpretation of sensory data so as to make it of use to the agent

Identification, categorization, relations

Mental images

Images produced internally from any of the sensory modalities, internal virtual reality

Visual image, hearing a tune in one’s head

Metacognitive process

Thinking about thinking

Only in humans?


The meaning assigned to sense data during a single cycle


The process of assigning meaning to incoming sensory data

The color red, a sound

Perceptual learning

Learning recognition of new objects, new categorizations, new relationships

Procedural learning

Learning to perform new motor behaviors, or to improve the performance of existing behaviors.

Procedural memory

The storage of procedures for executing behaviors

Running, eating, mating

Reactive process

Volition or action selection that is not deliberative


The pleasure or pain that results in procedural learning

Top-down perception

Perception occurring during multiple cognitive cycles

Recognition over a second or two

Transient episodic memory

Episodic memory with decay times measured in hours or a day or so


The process of arriving at a goal

Working memory buffers

Buffers whose contents serve to cue transient episodic and declarative memory

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