Protention and retention in biological systems

Theory in Biosciences 130:107-117 (2011)
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This article proposes an abstract mathematical frame for describing some features of cognitive and biological time. We focus here on the so called “extended present” as a result of protentional and retentional activities (memory and anticipation). Memory, as retention, is treated in some physical theories (relaxation phenomena, which will inspire our approach), while protention (or anticipation) seems outside the scope of physics. We then suggest a simple functional representation of biological protention. This allows us to introduce the abstract notion of “biological inertia”.

Author Profiles

Maël Montévil
Université Paris-Sorbonne
Giuseppe Longo
École Normale Supérieure


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