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Re: information transmission analyses

Thanks for the interesting bibliography. One note I would add though, is that, with the exception of the Luce paper, these publications precede a rather significant boom in the use of info theory in the computational neuroscience world. The use of a communication channel analog in cognitive psychology might be a stretch, but for neural- level perception studies it has become quite a powerful tool. Seeing how these studies are slowly branching towards high-level perception I would say that the debate (if any) is probably still open.


On Feb 27, 2009, at 1:04 PM, Iftikhar Riaz (Lance) Nizami wrote:

Dear Dr. Pinter and others,

A comprehensive critical review that argues that "The human being is NOT a Shannon communication channel" does not exist in print, to my knowledge. And no editor is going to allow such a paper to be published, because there are too many prominent people who stand to lose if their misinterpretations are made public. Some of those people are senior editors of well-known journals. There are, however, a number of published papers that question whether the use of information-transmission measures in psychology was really useful:

Cronbach, L.J. (1955) On the non-rational application of information measures in psychology. In: Information theory in psychology (pp. 14-30), ed. H. Quastler. Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press. Luce, R.D. (2003) Whatever happened to information theory in psychology? Rev. Gen. Psych. 7, 183-188. Gregory, R.L. (1980) Whatever happened to information theory? (2) Perception, 9, 489-492.
Laming, D. (1973) Mathematical Psychology. Academic Press, NY.
Ashby, F.G. (1995). Resurrecting information theory. The American Journal of Psychology, 108, 609-614.

A outstanding (and unfairly ignored) paper that deals decisively with the issue of what "informational" absolute judgment experiments actually measure is:

Siegel, W. (1972) Memory effects in the method of absolute judgment. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 94, 121-131.

- Lance Nizami PhD, Decatur, GA 30030

In a message dated 2/26/2009 11:30:22 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, andzsinszan@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Dear Lance Nizami,

What you wrote regarding Information Theory is quite interesting to
me, as I daily meet people doing automatic speech recognition, whom
are really difficulty to convince that there is life beyond
information theory and Markov chains.
Can you please give us some references that argues that "The human
being is NOT a Shannon communication channel".
Or at least focusing on the controversial relation between perception
and information theory.

I appreciate your help.

Best regards.

Gabor Pinter

On Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 1:44 AM, Iftikhar Riaz (Lance) Nizami
<Nizamii2@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> I did my Master's on this subject, and had to chance to read Attneave and > the rest of the literature in depth. Information theory as applied to > psychology, as popularized by Attneave after Garner & Hake, has nothing at > all to do with transmission of anything. When applied to traditional > absolute judgment (identification) experiments, for example, it is merely an > alternative measure of short-term sensory memory. Which has nothing to do > with Claude Shannon's "general communications system". In your case, memory > capacity is probably what the analysis will indicate. I am surprised that > anyone uses the Garner-Hake information approach anymore; mathematical > psychologists (Duncan Luce, Donald Laming, Sandy MacRae, etc.) recognized > its severe limitations years ago and abandoned it. So (eventually) did
> acoustics users like Neff and Lutfi.  The human being is NOT a
> Shannon communication channel. Granted, the measures that result from > processing the confusion matrix are covariance measures of a sort. In that > case, ordinary covariance measures may provide a more meaningful way of > analyzing your data. In response to your question, then, none of TRANS,
> TRANS/INPUT or TRANS/TI are appropriate measures for your purposes.
> Information theory doesn't work that way. Attneave got the math right, > but that had already been done; but Attneave's interpretations (after Garner > & Hake) were all dead wrong. - Lance Nizami BSc (Physics) MSc (Biomedical
> Engineering) PhD (Psychophysics), Decatur, GA 30030
> In a message dated 2/24/2009 4:54:12 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
> caro_jacquier@xxxxxxxx writes:
> Dear members,
> I would like to analyse phonetic feature transmission (especially voicing > and place of articulation of french plosive consonants) on the basis of
> individual confusion matrices. My study is about compressed speech
> perception in dyslexic adults.
> I have already downloaded the software for information transfer and SINFA > analysis (Stuart Rosen ) and I have run the analyses (on 32 subjects). > My first question is: which value is the more relevant in the report (TRANS,
> My second question is about individual confusion matrices: Do I have to do
> one analyse per subject ?
> I hope that someone could help me.
> Thank you very much.
> Best regards,
> Caroline
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