Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Computational exhaust fumes

I suspect that the many studies now published that show motor effects on perception or motor involvement in conceptual representation amount to the computational equivalent of exhaust fumes.

If you direct a fan at the stream of exhaust coming out of car's tailpipe you can reliably manipulate (p<.000001!) the flow of gases.  But this reveals nothing about how the machine that generates the exhaust works.

I believe the effects.  There is no need to do any more experiments until we figure out whether they have any relevance to the computational speech machine.  Given that the task that is typically used in these experiments is some variant of syllable discrimination, which has long been known to double dissociate from word recognition, I strongly suspect that the answer is, no relevance.  It's just computational exhaust fumes.

1 comment:

William Matchin said...

Did you happen to see this study? Just came out, and the same old story:

Discrimination of speech and non-speech sounds following theta-burst stimulation of the motor cortex

Jack C. Rogers, Riikka Möttönen, Rowan Boyles and Kate E. Watkins

It would be lovely to have a little more direct discussion with these folks, wouldn't it?