The book

Dynamic thinking: A primer on dynamic field theory

Gregor Schöner, John P. Spencer and the DFT research group

Dynamic Thinking: A Primer on Dynamic Field Theory introduces the reader to a new approach to understanding cognitive and neural dynamics using the concepts of Dynamic Field Theory (DFT). Dynamic Neural Fields are formalizations of how neural populations represent the continuous dimensions of perceptual features, movements, and cognitive decisions. The concepts of DFT establish links between brain and behavior, revealing ways in which models of brain function can be tested with both neural and behavioral measures. Thus, DFT bridges the gap between brain and behavior, between neuroscience and the behavioral sciences. The book provides systematic tutorials on the central concepts of DFT and their grounding in both dynamical systems theory and neurophysiology. The concrete mathematical implementation of these concepts is laid out, supported by hands-on exercises that make use of interactive simulators in MATLAB. The book also contains a large set of exemplary case studies in which the concepts and associated models are used to understand how elementary forms of embodied cognition emerge and develop.

  • 400 pages with colored illustrations
  • Includes many hands-on exercises with software simulators
  • Oxford University Press, New York, USA
- Jay McClelland, Director, Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation, Stanford University


General Introduction (John P. Spencer and Gregor Schöner)

PART 1:  Foundations of Dynamic Field Theory

  • Introduction (Gregor Schöner and John P. Spencer)
  • Neural Dynamics (Gregor Schöner, Hendrik Reimann, and Jonas Lins)
  • Dynamic Field Theory: Foundations (Gregor Schöner and Anne R. Schutte)
  • Dynamic Field Theory and Its Links to Neurophyisology (Sebastian Schneegans, Jonas Lins, and Gregor Schöner)
  • Embodied Neural Dynamics (Gregor Schöner, Christian Faubel, Evelina Dineva, and Estela Bicho)

PART 2:  Integrating Lower-Level Perception-Action with Higher-Level Cognition

  • Introduction (John P. Spencer and Gregor Schöner)
  • Integration and Selection in Multidimensional Dynamic Fields (Sebastian Schneegans, Jonas Lins, and John P. Spencer)
  • Integrating Perception and Working Memory in a Three-Layer Dynamic Field Model (Jeffrey S. Johnson and Vanessa R. Simmering)
  • Sensory-Motor and Cognitive Transformation (Sebastian Schneegans)
  • Integrating “What” and “Where”: Visual Working Memory for Objects in a Scene (Sebastian Schneegans, John P. Spencer, and Gregor Schöner)
  • Dynamic Scene Representations and Autonomous Robotics (Stephan K. U. Zibner and Christian Faubel)

PART 3:  Integrating Thinking over Multiple Timescales

  • Introduction (John P. Spencer and Gregor Schöner)
  • Developmental Dynamics: The Spatial Precision Hypothesis (Vanessa R. Simmering and Anne R. Schutte)
  • A Process View of Learning and Development in an Autonomous Exploratory System (Sammy Perone and Joseph P. Ambrose)
  • Grounding Word Learning in Space and Time (Larissa K. Samuelson and Christian Faubel)
  • The Emergence of Higher-Level Cognitive Flexibility: Dynamic Field Theory and Executive Function (Aaron T. Buss, Timothy Wifall, and Eliot Hazeltine)
  • Autonomous Sequence Generation in Dynamic Field Theory (Yulia Sandamirskaya)
  • Conclusions: A “How-to” Guide to Modeling with Dynamic Field Theory (Joseph Ambrose, Sebastian Schneegans, Gregor Schöner, and John P. Spencer)