"feedback guidance", conflict and cooperation

[From Rick Marken (920621)]

My "Hierarchical control of behavior" paper was sort of
rejected by a journal called "Consciousness and cognition".
The editor encouraged me to resubmit with more detailed explanation
of the model. I will try it -- the editor was very nice
about it. The interesting thing is that he had problems
finding anyone to review it; he managed to get one brief review,
which was basically positive -- with the usual misunderstandings
of PCT. The reviewer again brought up the evidence that
animals can behave even when deprived of feedback -- evidence being
the criminally evil "deafferentiation" studies (these would not
seem so horrendously evil to me if they weren't being done by
people who have NO understanding of how to study control systems).
The reviewer pointed me to a book that is, indeed, relevant to
the topic of my paper -- it's called "The organization of
perception and action" (1987) by D. G. MacKay (a UCLA linguist, not
the Christian neurophysiologist). What is interesting about this
book is that it tries to model the relationship between perception
and action in terms of the ol' cause effect model. Of course,
MacKay's model (a node excitation thing) is pretty silly but there
are some fun parts of the book. For example, he has a whole
section which explains why people are not interested in feedback
control models of behavior anymore; the reason? Because
so much behavior can be done without "feedback guidance"
(of course, he assumes that control systems work in a cause-
effect manner -- feedback causes behavior). One example he gave
is of studies that show that people can still speak even
after they have gone suddenly deaf. He didn't go into much detail
on this. Does anybody know about this evidence? Does the suddenly deaf
person speak the same as before going deaf? Do they immediately
speak clearly (if they ever do)? Of course, MacKay has no
idea that the occurrance of similar appearing "outputs" after sensory
loss is not evidence that "behavior" can occur without feedback. What
he has to show (to get me to abandon PCT) is that people can
CONTROL after loss of the ability to sense a controlled variable.
Thus, he has to start by showing what variables are controlled
during speech (by doing the test); then he has to show that
loss of the ability to sense all or some of those variables
does not cause loss (or reduction) of control.

Nearly all studies which show "behavior without feedback" are
based on the idea that "behavior" is output. If they understood
that behavior is control, they wouldn't come to such silly
conclusions. But the damage is done -- most psychologists assume
that people can "behave" without feedback (just like those
mechanical dolls of the 17th century). It is the accepted dogma,
so it will be tough to get psychologists to reconsider a question
that they think is already answered. Ah well. Perhaps some
research directly related to these "behavior without feedback"
studies has to be done and published. Anyone volunteer?

One interesting study that MacKay mentioned, which stongly
points to the importance of feedback (though he didn't see it
that way), showed that adapting a person with repeated presentation
of the sounds /pi/ or /ti/ lead to a decrease in voice onset
time (VOT) when these perceptually adapted people were asked to
say /pi/ or /ti/. The study was done by Cooper and Naper and reported
in JASA (Journal of the Acoustical Society of America) in 1975.
Any linguists know about this? It sounds like there is a change
in output (VOT) in order to produce an intended perceptual result
(/pi/ or /ti/) via an adapted sensory input system. Is this
interpretation reasonablee? It would have been nice if the
study had been done quantitatively -- maybe it was. For example,
the degree of change in VOT might be expected to depend on the
degree of adaptation.

Dag Forssell (920621-3)

Great list.

In my book you [WTP] lead this group, and well. You use what I have labeled
Purposeful LeadershipTM.

If what Bill does is Purposeful LeadershipTM then, boy, am I for it!!
I just hope it can be taught.

Best regards




Richard S. Marken USMail: 10459 Holman Ave
The Aerospace Corporation Los Angeles, CA 90024
E-mail: marken@aero.org
(310) 336-6214 (day)
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