Animism redux, Program control

[From Rick Marken (950309.1020)]

Samuel Saunders (950307:1310 EST) --

A minor point, but few if any EAB types would say the stimuli are causing
the responses, but rather that the stimuli "set the occasion" for
reinforcement of the respective responses.

Thanks for pointing this out, Samuel. This is another wonderful example of
more EAB animism. As far as I can tell, stimuli (like red and green lights)
are just perceptions; they can't "set the occasion" anymore than they can
"select consequences". Only purposeful systems (like the hotel staff) can do
things like "set the occasion". When EAB types say things like this, they are
just revealing their animistic faith that control (purpose) is exerted by the
environment rather by the organisms in that enviroinment.

While this is the majority view in EAB, there is a sizeable minority that
would argue that intermediate stimuli produce a weighted combination of
the behaviors appropriate to the end-points

Now I'm confused. I thought you just said that "few if any EAB types would
say the stimuli are causing...responses". Yet now you say that "...a sizeable
minority [of EAB types]...would argue that intermediate stimuli produce a
weighted combination of the behaviors". How do intermediate stimuli "produce
a weighted combination of the behaviors" if they don't cause those
behaviors? Are you sure these people know what they're talking about?

Bruce Abbott (950308.1900 EST) --

Looks like our performances are comparable: I get a best lag of 30/60 and
yours was 37/60. There's something lurking in memory somewhere that tells
me that this 1/2 second lag has been found in other kinds of studies
involving discriminated reaction times and that people do not perceive the
lag. Perhaps someone else remembers the study; at the moment I sure can't.

If you have my "Mind Readings" book, look at the paper called "Levels of
intention in behavior". Bill and I found that it takes about 1/2 second to
recover from a polarity reversal (which is "signaled" by exponentially
increasing error). It also takes about 1/2 second to change the relationship
(tracking vs mirroring) between target and cursor movement after an auditory
signal. In your case it takes about 1/2 second to change the reference
position of the cursor after a signal.

My guess is that the 1/2 second delay reflects the fact that, in all cases,
the same _type_ of higher level perception is being controlled. I suggest
that it is the perception of a contingency (or program) such as :

if X, then Y else Z.

The speed of response (1/2 second) in the SD and the polarity reversal studies
is consistent with my observations of the speed at which it is possible to
perceive that a program is occurring in a sequence of numbers. In my
"Hierarchical behavior of perception" paper I reported that a program (of the
form "if (number on left)>5 then (number on right)=odd else (number on right)
= even") could be easily detected if the numbers (alternately presented on the
left and right of a marker) are occurring at the rate of about .25 numbers/
second. But this is the lower speed limit. I am able to tell that a program
is in progress if the numbers are occuring as rapidly as 2 numbers/second;
any faster and I can no longer perceive the program (though I can still
perceive the sequence, spatial transition and, of course, the configurations
that are the numbers themselves).

So the fastest rate at which I can perceive a program is 1 number every 1/2
second. This time period can be taken as the minimum "integration period" for
the program perceptual function. Changes in input to this function are not
reflected fully in the output perceptual signal for at least 1/2 second. If
the SD in the tracking task is part of a controlled program perception, then
it's contribution to the program perception should take a minimum of 1/2 to
show up in the program perceptual signal -- hence the delay in the
"response" that maintains the program perception in the reference state.

This explanation suggests that the "reaction time" lag in the SD tracking
experiment is perceptual -- reflecting the time it takes to perceive a
program. One way to test this notion is to repeat the experiment with the SD
(red vs green line) as part of a lower level perception -- like a sequence.
A sequence should be perceived more quickly (shorter integration period).
This could be tested by presenting the red and green lines in a regular,
alternating sequence at a fixed rate; red, green, red, green.... The response
to the change in SD should now be much less than 1/2 second -- indeed, I
think it should go down to about 1/4 second.