Symbols enable people to organize and communicate about the world. However, the ways in which symbolic knowledge is learned and then represented in the mind are poorly understood. We present a formal analysis of symbolic learning—in particular, word learning—in terms of prediction and cue competition, and we consider two possible ways in which symbols might be learned: by learning to predict a label from the features of objects and events in the world, and by learning to predict features from a (...) label. This analysis predicts significant differences in symbolic learning depending on the sequencing of objects and labels. We report a computational simulation and two human experiments that confirm these differences, revealing the existence of Feature-Label-Ordering effects in learning. Discrimination learning is facilitated when objects predict labels, but not when labels predict objects. Our results and analysis suggest that the semantic categories people use to understand and communicate about the world can only be learned if labels are predicted from objects. We discuss the implications of this for our understanding of the nature of language and symbolic thought, and in particular, for theories of reference. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine Sextus Empiricus' treatise Against the geometers . We first set this treatise in the overall context of the sceptic's polemics against the liberal arts. After a discussion of Sextus' attitude to the quadrivium , we discuss the structure, the sources and the target of the Against the geometers . It appears that Euclid is not Sextus' source, and neither he, nor the professional geometers, seem to be Sextus' main targets. Of course, Sextus never really makes (...) clear his precise target, but his attacks are rather directed against geometry as a means of modelling the physical world, thus ruining the support geometry was intended to bring to the physical part of dogmatic philosophy. (shrink)
Introduction While quizzing during informed consent for research to ensure understanding has become commonplace, it is unclear whether the quizzing itself is problematic for potential participants. In this study, we address this issue in a multinational HIV prevention research trial enrolling injection drug users in China and Thailand. Methods Enrolment procedures included an informed consent comprehension quiz. An informed consent survey followed. Results 525 participants completed the informed consent survey (Heng County, China=255, Xinjiang, China=229, Chiang Mai, Thailand=41). Mean age was (...) 33 and mean educational level was 8 yrs. While quizzing was felt to be a good way to determine if a person understands the nature of clinical trial participation (97%) and participants did not generally find the quiz to be problematic, minorities of respondents felt pressured (6%); anxious (5%); bored (5%); minded (5%); and did not find the questions easy (13%). In multivariate analysis, lower educational level was associated with not minding the quizzing (6–10 yrs vs 0–5 yrs: OR=0.27, p=0.03; more than 11 yrs vs 0–5 yrs: OR=0.18, p=0.03). There were also site differences (Heng County vs Xinjiang) in feeling anxious (OR=0.07; p=<0.01), not minding (OR=0.26; p=0.03), being bored (OR=0.25; p=0.01) and not finding the questions easy (OR=0.10; p=<0.01). Conclusions Quizzing during the informed consent process can be problematic for a minority of participants. These problems may be associated with the setting in which research takes place and educational level. Further research is needed to develop, test and implement alternative methods of ensuring comprehension of informed consent. Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov number NCT00270257. (shrink)
Increasing emphasis on genetic research means that growing numbers of human research projects in Australia will involve complex issues related to genetic privacy, familial information and genetic epidemiology. The Office of Population Health Genomics (Department of Health, Western Australia) hosted an interactive workshop to explore the ethical issues involved in the disclosure of genetic information, where researchers and members of human research ethics committees (HRECs) were asked to consider several case studies from an ethical perspective. Workshop participants used a variety (...) of approaches to examine the complex ethical issues encountered, but did not consistently refer to the values and principles outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NHMRC 2007) or apply rational ethical approaches. Overall, the data suggested that both researchers and HREC members may benefit from further education and support regarding the application of ethical frameworks to the issues encountered in genetic research. (shrink)
Much of what we know and love about music is based on implicitly acquired mental representations of musical pitches and the relationships between them. While previous studies have shown that these mental representations of music can be acquired rapidly and can influence preference, it is still unclear which aspects of music influence learning and preference formation. This article reports two experiments that use an artificial musical system to examine two questions: (1) which aspects of music matter most for learning, and (...) (2) which aspects of music matter most for preference formation. Two aspects of music are tested: melody and harmony. In Experiment 1 we tested the learning and liking of a new musical system that is manipulated melodically so that only some of the possible conditional probabilities between successive notes are presented. In Experiment 2 we administered the same tests for learning and liking, but we used a musical system that is manipulated harmonically to eliminate the property of harmonic whole-integer ratios between pitches. Results show that disrupting melody (Experiment 1) disabled the learning of music without disrupting preference formation, whereas disrupting harmony (Experiment 2) does not affect learning and memory but disrupts preference formation. Results point to a possible dissociation between learning and preference in musical knowledge. (shrink)
Our ability to listen selectively to single sound sources in complex auditory environments is termed ‘auditory stream segregation.’ This ability is affected by peripheral disorders such as hearing loss, as well as plasticity in central processing such as occurs with musical training. Brain plasticity induced by musical training can enhance the ability to segregate sound, leading to improvements in a variety of auditory abilities. The melody segregation ability of 12 cochlear-implant recipients was tested using a new method to determine (...) the perceptual distance needed to segregate a simple 4-note melody from a background of interleaved random-pitch distractor notes. In experiment 1, participants rated the difficulty of segregating the melody from distracter notes. Four physical properties of the distracter notes were changed. In experiment 2, listeners were asked to rate the dissimilarity between melody patterns whose notes differed on the four physical properties simultaneously. Multidimensional scaling analysis transformed the dissimilarity ratings into perceptual distances. Regression between physical and perceptual cues then derived the minimal perceptual distance needed to segregate the melody. The most efficient streaming cue for CI users was loudness. For the normal hearing listeners without musical backgrounds, a greater difference on the perceptual dimension correlated to the temporal envelope is needed for stream segregation in CI users. No differences in streaming efficiency were found between the perceptual dimensions linked to the F0 and the spectral envelope. Combined with our previous results in normally-hearing musicians and non-musicians, the results show that differences in training as well as differences in peripheral auditory processing (hearing impairment and the use of a hearing device) influences the way that listeners use different acoustic cues for segregating interleaved musical streams. (shrink)
In recent issues of this journal, Roger Scruton and Malcolm Budd have debated the question whether hearing a melody in a sequence of sounds necessarily involves an ‘unasserted thought’ about spatial movement. According to Scruton, the answer is ‘yes’; according to Budd, the answer is ‘no’. The conclusion of this paper is that, while Budd may have underestimated the viability of Scruton's thesis in one of its possible interpretations, there is no good reason to assume that the thesis is (...) true. Very briefly, the argument for the second part of the conclusion is that we can account for all the data adduced by Scruton in favour of his hypothesis by means of hypotheses that are far less daring. (shrink)
The stormy development of vocal production during the first postnatal weeks is generally underestimated. Our longitudinal studies revealed an amazingly fast unfolding and combinatorial complexification of pre-speech melodies. We argue that relying on “melody” could provide for the immature brain a kind of filter to extract life-relevant information from the complex speech stream.
This paper aims to examine the awesome, almost spiritual feeling I experience as an ?extreme spectator? while watching Kelly Slater ride the monstrous waves of Pipeline. Drawing on the aesthetics of Kant and Schopenhauer, I examine the experience of the sublime and how it, in conjunction with the perceived kinetic melody of Slater's movements and his karmic connection to the environment in which he thrives, gives rise to the deeply felt awe of the extreme spectator. My intention is to (...) use Slater's case as a paradigm that can be applied to many other athletic performances which share the characteristics discussed in the paper. (shrink)
It has long been known from the extant ancient Greek musical documents that some composers correlated melodic contour with word accents. Up to now, the evidence of this compositional technique has been judged impressionistically. In this article a statistical method of interpretation through computer simulation is set forth and applied to the musical texts, focusing on the convention of correlating a word¿s accent with the highest pitch level in the melody for that word: the Pitch Height Rule. The results (...) provide a sounder basis for judging evidence for the operation of this convention in specific pieces and a sharper delineation of its use in the history of ancient Greek music. The ¿rule¿ was used by at least some composers from the late second century BC through the second century AD, but there is no certainty that it was used before or after this period. In some cases where previous scholars have discovered the rule¿s operation, statistical analysis casts doubt. Of special interest is the showing that one piece long judged as offering no evidence of the use of the rule probably displays an inversion or parody of the rule for rhetorical-musical effect. (shrink)
Light harvesting inside a solar cell is crucial for overall performance. Increasing the optical path of a photon through the delicate design of photoanode morphology can increase the light absorbance. The marine sponge-like photoanode is facilely constructed and assembled into a solar cell, using an organic D−A−π−A-type dye with wide-spectrum response as the sensitizer. The light scattering derived from the large porous cavities in the photoanode enhances the improved light absorbance of the dye molecules, especially in the long-wavelength region, and (...) therefore improves the cell efficiency. Synergistically engineering the photoanode morphology and adopting matchable dye maximized the light energy conversion efficiency in this study, and a maximal conversion efficiency of 5.02% was achieved. (shrink)
A great deal of effort has been, and continues to be, devoted to developing consciousness artificially (A small selection of the many authors writing in this area includes: Cotterill (J Conscious Stud 2:290–311, 1995 , 1998 ), Haikonen ( 2003 ), Aleksander and Dunmall (J Conscious Stud 10:7–18, 2003 ), Sloman ( 2004 , 2005 ), Aleksander ( 2005 ), Holland and Knight ( 2006 ), and Chella and Manzotti ( 2007 )), and yet a similar amount of effort has (...) gone in to demonstrating the infeasibility of the whole enterprise (Most notably: Dreyfus ( 1972/1979 , 1992 , 1998 ), Searle ( 1980 ), Harnad (J Conscious Stud 10:67–75, 2003 ), and Sternberg ( 2007 ), but there are a great many others). My concern in this paper is to steer some navigable channel between the two positions, laying out the necessary pre-conditions for consciousness in an artificial system, and concentrating on what needs to hold for the system to perform as a human being or other phenomenally conscious agent in an intersubjectively-demanding social and moral environment. By adopting a thick notion of embodiment—one that is bound up with the concepts of the lived body and autopoiesis (Maturana and Varela 1980 ; Varela et al. 2003 ; and Ziemke 2003 , 2007a , J Conscious Stud 14(7):167–179, 2007b )—I will argue that machine phenomenology is only possible within an embodied distributed system that possesses a richly affective musculature and a nervous system such that it can, through action and repetition, develop its tactile-kinaesthetic memory, individual kinaesthetic melodies pertaining to habitual practices, and an anticipatory enactive kinaesthetic imagination. Without these capacities the system would remain unconscious, unaware of itself embodied within a world. Finally, and following on from Damasio’s ( 1991 , 1994 , 1999 , 2003 ) claims for the necessity of pre-reflective conscious, emotional, bodily responses for the development of an organism’s core and extended consciousness, I will argue that without these capacities any agent would be incapable of developing the sorts of somatic markers or saliency tags that enable affective reactions, and which are indispensable for effective decision-making and subsequent survival. My position, as presented here, remains agnostic about whether or not the creation of artificial consciousness is an attainable goal. (shrink)
The formation of coherent percepts requires grouping together spatio-temporally disparate sensory inputs. Two major questions arise: (1) is awareness necessary for this process; and (2) can non-conscious elements of the sensory input be grouped into a conscious perceptµ To address this question, we tested two patients suffering from severe left auditory extinction following right hemisphere damage. In extinction, patients are unaware of the presence of left side stimuli when they are presented simultaneously with right side stimuli. We used the ‘scale (...) illusion’ to test whether extinguished tones on the left can be incorporated into the content of conscious awareness. In the scale illusion, healthy listeners obtain the illusion of distinct melodies, which are the result of grouping of information from both ears into illusory auditory streams. We show that the two patients were susceptible to the scale illusion while being consciously unaware of the stimuli presented on their left. This suggests that awareness is not necessary for auditory grouping and non-conscious elements can be incorporated into a conscious percept. (shrink)
Why does major music sound happy and minor music sound sad? The idea that different musical modes are best suited to the expression of different emotions has been prescribed by composers, music theorists, and natural philosophers for millennia. However, the reason we associate musical modes with emotions remains a matter of debate. On one side there is considerable evidence that mode-emotion associations arise through exposure to the conventions of a particular musical culture, suggesting a basis in lifetime learning. On the (...) other, cross-cultural comparisons suggest that the particular associations we make are supported by musical similarities to the prosodic characteristics of the voice in different affective states, indicating a basis in the biology of emotional expression. Here, I review developmental and cross-cultural studies on the affective character of musical modes, concluding that while learning clearly plays a role, the emotional associations we make are (1) not arbitrary, and (2) best understood by also taking into account the physical characteristics and biological purposes of vocalization. (shrink)
Although Newman’s Fifteenth Oxford University Sermon is often considered a precursor to An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), the following essay views this Sermon as an expression of Newman’s personal struggle from 1839 to 1845: in the midst of confusion, he pondered; against the threat of liberal skepticism, he defended truth; in the face of doubt, he reaffirmed his relationship with God.
This fMRI study examines shared and distinct cortical areas involved in the auditory perception of song and speech at the level of their underlying constituents: words, pitch and rhythm. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed on the brain activity patterns of six conditions, arranged in a subtractive hierarchy: sung sentences including words, pitch and rhythm; hummed speech prosody and song melody containing only pitch patterns and rhythm; as well as the pure musical or speech rhythm. Systematic contrasts between these (...) balanced conditions following their hierarchical organization showed a great overlap between song and speech at all levels in the bilateral temporal lobe, but suggested a differential role of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and intraparietal sulcus (IPS) in processing song and speech. The left IFG was involved in word- and pitch-related processing in speech, the right IFG in processing pitch in song. Furthermore, the IPS showed sensitivity to discrete pitch relations in song as opposed to the gliding pitch in speech. Finally, the superior temporal gyrus and premotor cortex coded for general differences between words and pitch patterns, irrespective of whether they were sung or spoken. Thus, song and speech share many features which are reflected in a fundamental similarity of brain areas involved in their perception. However, fine-grained acoustic differences on word and pitch level are reflected in the activity of IFG and IPS. (shrink)
The mere exposure phenomenon (repeated exposure to a stimulus is sufficient to improve attitudes toward that stimulus) is one of the most inspiring phenomena associated with Robert Zajonc’s long and productive career in social psychology. In the first part of this article, Richard Moreland (who was trained by Zajonc in graduate school) describes his own work on exposure and learning, and on the relationships among familiarity, similarity, and attraction in person perception. In the second part, Sascha Topolinski (a recent graduate (...) who never met Zajonc, but found his ideas inspirational) describes his own work concerning embodiment and fluency in the mere exposure effect. Also, several avenues for future research on the mere exposure phenomenon are identified, further demonstrating its continuing relevance to the field. (shrink)
: This essay addresses the difficulties that sociology as a discipline continues to experience in grasping the relations between technology, science and the social. I argue that these difficulties stem from a resolute centering of sociology on the social, which follows a generically Durkheimian blueprint. I elaborate a response to these difficulties which derives from recent lines of work in science and technology studies, and which entails a decentering of the social relative to the material and the conceptual, in terms (...) of both objects of analysis and explanatory formats. In order to display the direct sociological relevance of this approach, I move to the macro level, developing the conceptual apparatus of a decentered social theory via the discussion of a historical example of major sociological significance—the systematic gearing together of scientific research, technological innovation and industrial production that originated in the synthetic dye industry in the second half of the nineteenth century. Besides the interest of the topic itself, the aim is thus to exemplify in some detail what a decentered sociology might look like, both empirically and conceptually. (shrink)
Following in a psychological and musicological tradition beginning with Leonard Meyer, and continuing through David Huron, we present a functional, cognitive account of the phenomenon of expectation in music, grounded in computational, probabilistic modeling. We summarize a range of evidence for this approach, from psychology, neuroscience, musicology, linguistics, and creativity studies, and argue that simulating expectation is an important part of understanding a broad range of human faculties, in music and beyond.