Thursday, June 26, 2014

Good quote on "direct matching"/"resonance"/"simulation" as a neural mechanism

The mirror neuron / embodied cognition camp promotes what appears to be a simple mechanism for aspects of neural processing, variously termed simulation, direct matching, direct perception, or resonance.  Oztop, Kawato, and & Arbib 2006 have an excellent comment on the use of such terms in the context of non-computationally explicit (i.e., verbal or conceptual) models.  Read it twice and let it sink in.  It's right on the mark.
A general pitfall in conceptual modeling is that an innocent looking phrase thrown in the description may render the model implausible or trivial from a computational perspective, hiding the real difficulty of the problem. For example, terms like “direct matching” and “resonance” are used as if they were atomic processes that allow one to build hypotheses about higher cognitive functions of mirror neurons.
Learn to detect and question these kinds of problem-obscuring terms.  

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