[From Bruce Abbott (960123.1815 EST)]
Rick Marken (960123.1300) --
In PCT we use the term "result" or "consequence" rather than "act" to refer
to a perceptual consequence of action. But I can see that "act" is defined
in the dictionary as "a result of action" so your usage was quite
appropriate. I would prefer to stick with the term "result" when we are
talking about the result of actions. But I also like going with the
dictionary; so I'm sorry about the misunderstanding.
Good; I'm glad that we've gotten our "act" together!
Here's my (well, Bill's) theory: The rat learns to control the perception of
"a struck key" because ingestion and digestion of the grain that results from
controlling this variable _slows or stops_ the process of reorganization. The
"incentive" (the grain) doesn't "lead to the establishment of a reference"
for striking the key; rather, it allows the _cessation_ of reorganization;
Or in words you would rather not hear used, by reducing intrinsic error it
leads to the cessation of reorganization, which leaves the current candidate
reference in place or "established." Hmmm, so the occurrence of the
incentive _does_ lead to the establishment of a reference for striking the
key, in your view. For a moment there I thought you were disagreeing with
the organism stops trying to control other variables; it keeps controlling
for "a struck key" because doing so keeps the organism in control of an
intrinsic variable (like blood suger level). It is the error in the system
controlling this intrinsic variable that drives reorganization. As intrinsic
error decreases (because whatever the organism is currently controlling
produces, as a side effect, the desired intrinsic perception) the (possibly
random) changes in the variables being controlled ("a struck dot on floor",
"a struck dot on ceiling", "a movement of wings", etc) stops; the
pigeon keeps controlling for "a struck key".
This it where I have trouble with this explanation. Reorganization is said
to come into play when "intrinsic" variables are in "persistent" error, and
to stop when this error is "corrected." That's a fairly slow process. I
don't see how one brief grain-delivery (or even several) is going to have
much impact on the level of deprivation (intrinsic error), yet the pigeon
goes back and repeats what it just did (in terms of result of action).
We've been over this ground before, I know, so there probably isn't much
point in rehashing the issue until we get honest-to-goodness real data to
argue from; I just want it known that I have difficulty with the explanation
as it stands. The basic idea -- that you stop looking for a solution to a
problem the moment you find it -- seems reasonable enough, but the mechanism
involved in identifying the problem and the solution seems too sluggish and
too dependent on error at the highest level in the hierarchy.