More ecological theory please (Paul Treffner )

Subject: More ecological theory please
From:    Paul Treffner  <p.treffner(at)MAILBOX.GU.EDU.AU>
Date:    Wed, 28 Feb 2001 20:07:22 +1000

Articulatory gestures? Dynamical information? Specificity of information and meaning? Ecological constraints on a viable theory of meaning? HELLO???? I applaud Bill Noble's large-scale promotion of Gibsonian thinking, but really, it is the only way to make sense of the senses. Mr. Brain? Ms. Cochlea? Sounds like a Woody Allen movie to moi! Anybody out there studying direct perception, ecological psych, and articulatory gestures, esp. wrt hand gestures and the evolution of language. If so, let's talk. I am fairly new to this list so apologies. And hello!! >I applaud your graphic dialog between brain and cochlea. What this >discussion does is to expose further the need for an operational system >anlysis that predicts how the brain could guide survival based on >fundamental requirements and constraints. The object is to rationalize how >waveshape information could be related to the meaning that is needed to >make the survival decisions. > The basic error in current thinking is, in my view, in trying to find a >purely mathematical basis (a representation or a code) that applies to >understanding the process of selecting what is important in a signal >ensemble. The existence of mathematical "information" does not directly >relate to meaning. And meaning is what determines survival, which is what >Mr. Brain's job is. In carrying out this process, there appears to be no >deterministic way to "calculate" meaning. And meaning is what Mr. Brain >uses to decide at at any point in time which part of Mr. Cochlea's >information is useful and which part to ignore. (I said ignore, not >discard, because contrary to Ellis's view, we're speaking of attention and >awareness. Mr. Brain can't survive without having awareness simultaneously >with attention.) > The task for CASA, then, is to implement a computational algorithm that >can somehow represent the perception of meaning. I happen to believe that >such an algorithm is attainable, at least in rudimentary or specialized >form. (For example, the quantifying of human emotion is being explored in >bimodal speech analysis, as described in the current issue of the Signal >Processing Magazine.) But finding the correct approach must begin by >responding to Seebeck's admonition to Ohm and von Helmholtz to understand >what the ear hears before imposing an arbitrary theory on the process. > By the way, I have added to my Web site a paper describing how my >zero-based particulate algorithm might be used in a cochlear implant. It >might shed some light on the existence of a suitable temporal cochlear >representation. > > -John Bates > Time/Space Systems > Pleasantville, NY 10570 > > <> ^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^ Paul Treffner, PhD School of Physiotherapy & Exercise Science Motor Coordination & Dynamics Laboratory Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus PMB 50, Gold Coast Mail Centre QLD 9726, Australia tel. +61 7 5552 948215 fax: +61 7 5552 8674 p.treffner(at)

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DAn Ellis <>
Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University