When David and I started this blog we hoped it would be a forum for discussion of issues in language science, that would include PIs as well as junior scientists. Up until recently when we seem to be getting an increase in commentary, it has been just the David and Greg show. In this light, I can't tell you how happy I am to hear from Luciano Fadiga, whose work has been a topic of this blog on occasion. I've had very interesting, open, and informative email discussion with Luciano, and now I'm thrilled to see he is willing to discuss some of these issues publicly so that we all can benefit.
Although we've never met personally, I can tell you that I like Luciano quite a lot and learn much from his insights and ideas. So welcome Luciano! By the way, you noted in your comment that the blog is unbalanced in that we get to post on the main page and others are relegated to the virtual basement a click, and maybe a scroll, below. When we started the blog we offered to post commentary from other investigators on the main level -- a kind of "from the lab of" feature -- but no one took us up on it. The offer still stands! So in that spirit, I'm re-posting Luciano's comment here. I will respond in the basement. :-)
I see that now we agree on almost everything!
1) We think that the addition of noise to speech is important to make the task difficult enough (now we know from a new experiment that this is definitely true and we are trying to understand whether it is a problem of ceiling effect or if it reflects other mechanisms).
2) We both think that the motor involvement may reflect an attentional-like mechanism (never heard the so called "premotor theory of attention"?).
3) We agree now on the fact that 80% of misunderstanding is a relevant deficit and not the proof that the lesion of Broca’s area has nothing to do with speech perception.
If you remember, however, the fact that Broca’s area plays a marginal role in phoneme discrimination is exactly the title of our contribution to the special issue on mirror neurons that you are editing now. I would say ‘surprisingly’ because I completely ignored your so deep anti-mirror position when I accepted to contribute to this issue.
However, here the weather is sunny, we are in the most beautiful country of the world, we are very happy of how things are going on, and now we are even happier because you agree with us!
Unfortunately, we don't have enough time now to go in depth in this debate (we are supposed to stay in the lab to make experiments to answer to yours - and ours - doubts) and, as you probably know, I am quite refractory to formulate “highly theoretical theories”. I have the impression that sometimes you make some confusion between what I write and what they write some much more intelligent and ‘multidisciplinary’ colleagues of mine.
I confirm, however, that my intention of the last five years was to investigate the CAUSAL role of the motor/premotor system in perception. Now we have interesting results, such as this on CB and (please, prepare a lot of space on your blog!) another paper coming soon, showing that frontal aphasics do have problems in pragmatically representing others’ actions. However, also if I had found the opposite of what I am finding, it would have been for me a precious information. My goal is to understand how the brain works by keeping a constant distinction between data and speculations.
What I definitely disagree is the fact that your posts on the blog are so evident and visible, while the comments from others can be seen only by clicking on a small link. But this is a secondary issue.
Have a nice day (I hope sunny as well, in California, surrounded by palm trees)!