Talkin' Control Blues (was Re: Review of Hommel's Theory of Event Coding)

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.05.1015)]

···

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understand?

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

WM: Also, considering that most people don’t have an accurate operational definition of what control actually is, they will often think they already understand control when they don’t.

RM: Yes, that’s why I think it’s important that the first thing we explain to people about PCT is what control is; what organisms are doing when they control. I agree that few people have an accurate operational definition of what control actually is. In the Hommel paper on “action control”, for example, the term “control” means something like “cause”; making something happen. In TEC, a motor signal makes a kinesthetic perception happen. So the TEC model sounds a lot like a “control of perception” model of “action”. But, in fact, it is not. The kinesthetic perception is simply caused by the motor signal. As you noted in your review, the perception is not controlled inasmuch as it is not being maintained in a reference state, protected from other simultaneous influences – disturbances – on its state . There is no concept of a controlled quantity being perceived and controlled in TEC. So TEC is not a model of control; it is a model of how to produce a consistent result – output – in a DISTURBANCE FREE environment.

WM: So, I am not sure whether making this statement is the key to disseminating PCT, are you?

RM: I don’t think “making a particular kind of statement” is ever a good way to disseminate PCT. What I am pretty sure of is that an important part of explaining PCT – possibly the most important part – is explaining the nature of the phenomenon PCT explains: the phenomenon of controlling. And that will take a bit more than one statement. I think what we have to do is get good at explaining what controlling is and how controlling differs from the “behavior” that biological, behavioral and social scientists have been trying to understand for the last 100 years.

Best regards

Rick

Warren

On 5 Dec 2015, at 01:02, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.04.1700)]


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:50 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

Text version…

RM: Thanks, Warren. This is an excellent review of “Action control according to TEC (theory of event coding)” by Bernhard Hommel. I particularly liked your list of “limitations” of the TEC theory. The first two in particular made me realize that the difference between TEC theory and PCT results from the fact that they are explanations of different phenomena, not different explanations of the same phenomenon. TEC is a an explanation of behavior as generated output (action); PCT is an explanation of behavior as control. I realized this after reading the first two limitations of TEC theory that you point out in your review:

(a) perception is still associated with specific actions

(b) the process of acting against disturbances through negative feedback control is not specified

RM: These are limitations only if the phenomenon TEC were trying to explain was control: the production of consistent results in a disturbance prone environment. A theory that explains control has to include an explanation of how the behaving system manages to vary its actions appropriately in order to produce such consistent results. Such consistency – the fact that the results of action are kept in reference states – can’t be explained by a theory that has inputs (perceptions of the state of the controlled result) associated with specific actions. A theory that explains control will inevitably end up with the same input
s (perceptions) often being associated with different actions-- so the theory will not have limitation (a) – and this will occur as part of the process of acting against the effect of disturbances to the state of the controlled result – so the theory will not have limitation (b).

RM: This is why people with theories that seem somewhat similar to PCT are rarely (actually, never) moved to"get on board" with PCT. PCT is the only theory around that explains the controlling done by living systems. All other theories – equilibrium theories, self-regulation theories, manual control theories, whatever --are trying to explain something other than control. What distinguishes PCT from all other theories of behavior is the phenomenon it explains – control – not the theory itself.

Best

Rick

In contrast, in PCT:

(a) any action is carried out to control perception but it is not tied to a specific perception; in PCT behaviour is defined by the perceptual variables it controls at various levels in a hierachy. Any regularity we see in behaviour is because of the perceptual (kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, visual, etc) variabkes that are being controlled as that behaviour is observed.

(b) any observable action is a property of the environment as well as the individual - when one opens a door the weight, angle etc of the door are a component of how that action is observed. In order to achieve controlled perception, feedback from ongoing current perception must be corrected online and negative feedback contro
l is the process through which this occurs.

© PCT includes a putative 11 levels of perception. Going up the hierarchy these levels go from proximal to distal but the 11 levels provides a much more refined, flexible architecture

(d) PCT describes how mental simulation can operate through a specific recurrent link within a level in the hierarchy and describes how the phenomenology and content of the mental simulation maps neatly onto the specific levels at which the recurrent link occurs.

(e) PCT provides mathematical specification and computer models of how learning occurs within the architecture

(f) PCT is a theory to build functional models, as in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, engineering) one tests the validity of the theory through developments in technology.

I hope this sparks some interest and further discussion!

All the best,

Warren


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 11:33 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

For your interest CSGers!

http://bernhard-hommel.eu/Action%20control%20according%20to%20the%20theory%20of%20event%20coding.pdf

<IMG_0591.PNG>


Dr Warren Mansell
Reader in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
2nd Floor Zochonis Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

Advanced notice of a new transdiagnostic therapy manual, authored by Carey, Mansell & Tai - Principles-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Method of Levels Approach

Available Now

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

Most of mine are NOT. They are the actions of all the hierarchical control loops which make up the control system megastructure called Lloyd. I am conscious of very little and primarily one thing at a time in the foreground with a fair number of other things in the background.
If I remember an image Bill used: our awareness is like a flashlight revealing some visibility in a completely blacked out and perhaps browned out skyscraper.

I am grateful for the fact that so much of me works without my attention (e.g. breathing, heart pumping, Ph level of bodily fluids, …

Lloyd
yyanimation12.gif

Dr. Lloyd Klinedinst
10 Dover Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089-2001
HomeVoice: (636) 451-3232

Lloyd Mobile: (314)-609-5571
email: lloydk@klinedinst.com

website: http://www.klinedinst.com

image00126.gif

···

On Dec 6, 2015, at 09:46, Fred Nickols fred@nickols.us wrote:

Most of my “actionsâ€? are observable, including by me.

Thanks Rick. I think Martin Taylor made the same helpful distinction between ‘specification vs control’ in the contrast between 'command vs control.

There is a paper that could be written on this distinction in itself…

Warren

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)–

BA: You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

BA: The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actions� (means) with which to achieve them.

RM: As I said before, according to PCT the brain causes (via the error signal) actions, it doesn’t specify them. Specification means “make this particular value happen”. The reference signal specifies the value of the perceptual signal; the error signal does not specify the value of output (action).

BA: In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the lever� is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.� The idea that we use such “actions� as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.� What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actions� (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: Yes, I can see how saying that the brain specifies goals, not actions, could be jarring. But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control. All control systems in the hierarchy specify what is to be perceived, not what is to be done. This language may be jarring or seem to violate common sense but it is a correct description of how control systems work and maybe it will peak interest in the book. Heck, the title is pretty jarring too, and intentionally so. PCT is pretty jarring but, then, so was the idea that the earth rotates and moves around the sun. Scientific knowledge can be pretty jarring; look at how Republicans react to climate science.

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.

BA: Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function? Please elaborate.

RM: One of the main output functions involved in controlling is a muscle which converts an error (efferent) signal, e, into actions, q.o, such as a force at a joint. The amount of force produced per unit error signal varies due to variations in muscle fatigue. Representing the output function as a linear, we get q.o = k*e. Variations in muscle fatigue would be represented as variations in k, the coefficient that converts error into action.

BA: O.K., that clarifies what you had in mind when you stated that the characteristics of the output function may vary over time. Similar changes can occur in the input function, as in sensory adaptation, as Martin pointed out. In that case p will still be controlled to the same reference but q.i.’s value will now be stabilized at a value different than before against disturbances applied to it, as if tracking a new reference value.

RM: Yes, changes in the input function will result in q.i being controlled at a different value; p, however, will still be controlled at the level specified by the reference signal. That is, variations in p will always match variations in r. But changes in the output function will result in q.o (action) no longer being made to match (or be proportional to) the level “specified” by the error signal . That is, variations in q.o will no longer match (or be proportional to) variations in e. So I think it’s still correct to say that controlling is done by a system that specifies the goals to be achieved (perceptions) rather than the actions (outputs) to be taken.

RM: I hope you and Martin will get the book so you can see if there is anything else wrong with it, from your perspective.

RM: Again I’m copying to Tim; he can’t reply on CSGNet but I’m sure he’ll appreciate your suggestions.

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Thanks for the comprehensive answer Rick! I can’t wait to get my own copy of the book!

Warren

···

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understa
nd?

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make
a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

WM: Also, considering that most people don’t have an accurate operation
al definition of what control actually is, they will often think they already understand control when they don’t.

RM: Yes, that’s why I think it’s important that the first thing we explain to people about PCT is what control is; what organisms are doing when they control. I agree that few people have an accurate operational definition of what control actually is. In the Hommel paper on “action control”, for example, the term “control” means something like “cause”; making something happen. In TEC, a motor signal makes a kinesthetic perception happen. So the TEC model sounds a lot like a “control of perception” model of “action”. But, in fact, it is not. The kinesthetic perception is simply caused by the motor signal. As you noted in your review, the perception is not controlled inasmuch as it is not being maintained in a reference state, protected from other simultaneous influences – disturbances – on its state . There is no conce
pt of a controlled quantity being perceived and controlled in TEC. So TEC is not a model of control; it is a model of how to produce a consistent result – output – in a DISTURBANCE FREE environment.

WM: So, I am not sure whether making this statement is the key to disseminating PCT, are you?

RM: I don’t think “making a particular kind of statement” is ever a good way to disseminate PCT. What I am pretty sure of is that an important part of explaining PCT – possibly the most important part – is explaining the nature of the phenomenon PCT explains: the phenomenon of controlling. And that will take a bit more than one statement. I think what we have to do is get good at explaining what controlling is and how cont
rolling differs from the “behavior” that biological, behavioral and social scientists have been trying to understand for the last 100 years.

Best regards

Rick

Warren

On 5 Dec 2015, at 01:02, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.04.1700)]


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:50 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

Text version…

RM: Thanks, Warren. This is an excellent review of “Action control according to TEC (theory of event coding)” by Bernhard Hommel. I particularly liked your list of “limitations” of the TEC theory. The first two in particular made me realize that the difference between TEC theory and PCT results from the fact that they are explanations of different phenomena, not different explanations of the same phenomenon. TEC is a an explanation of behavior as generated output (action); PCT is an explanation of behavior as control. I realized this after reading the first two limitations of TEC theory that you point out in your review:

<
span style=“font-size:13px”>(a) perception is still associated with specific actions

(b) the process of acting against disturbances through negative feedback control is not specified

RM: These are limitations only if the phenomenon TEC were trying to explain was control: the production of consistent results in a disturbance prone environment. A theory that explains control has to include an explanation of how the behaving system manages to vary its actions appropriately in order to produce such consistent results. Such consistency – the fact that the results of action are kept in reference states – can’t be explained by a theory that has inputs (perceptions of the state of the controlled result) associated with specific actions. A theory that explains control will inevitably end up with the same input
s (perceptions) often being associated with different actions-- so the theory will not have limitation (a) – and this will occur as part of the process of acting against the effect of disturbances to the state of the controlled result – so the theory will not have limitation (b).

RM: This is why people with theories that seem somewhat similar to PCT are rarely (actually, never) moved to"get on board" with PCT. PCT is the only theory around that explains the controlling done by living systems. All other theories – equilibrium theories, self-regulation theories, manual control theories, whatever --are trying to explain something other than control. What distinguishes PCT from all other theories of behavior is the phenomenon it explains – control – not the theory itself.

Best

Rick

In contrast, in PCT:

(a) any action is carried out to control perception but it is not tied to a specific perception; in PCT behaviour is defined by the perceptual variables it controls at various levels in a hierachy. Any regularity we see in behaviour is because of the perceptual (kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, visual, etc) variabkes that are being controlled as that behaviour is observed.

(b) any observable action is a property of the environment as well as the individual - when one opens a door the weight, angle etc of the door are a component of how that action is observed. In order to achieve controlled perception, feedback from ongoing current perception must be corrected online and negative feedback contr
o
l is the process through which this occurs.

© PCT includes a putative 11 levels of perception. Going up the hierarchy these levels go from proximal to distal but the 11 levels provides a much more refined, flexible architecture

(d) PCT describes how mental simulation can operate through a specific recurrent link within a level in the hierarchy and describes how the phenomenology and content of the mental simulation maps neatly onto the specific levels at which the recurrent link occurs.

(e) PCT provides mathematical specification and computer models of how learning occurs within the architecture

(f) PCT is a theory to build functional models, as in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, engineering) one tests the validity of the theory through developments in technology.

I hope this sparks some interest and further discussion!

All the best,

Warren

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 11:33 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

For your interest CSGers!

http://bernhard-hommel.eu/Action%20control%20according%20to%20the%20theory%20of%20event%20coding.pdf

<IMG_0591.PNG>


Dr Warren Mansell
Reader in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
2nd Floor Zochonis Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

Advanced notice of a new transdiagnostic therapy manual, authored by Carey, Mansell & Tai - Principles-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Method of Levels Approach

Available Now

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.05.1015) –

···

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understand?

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I looks to be pitched at just the right level for the intended audience.

But in the Preface you say

The next chapters are about how this controlling works. They describe how the brain and nervous system allow you to act appropriately to consistently achieve your goals in an unpredictably changing world. We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

Folks who think about it will question that last sentence. If your brain doesn’t specify how you are going to carry out your goals, what does?

Bruce A.

[From Lloyd Klinedinst (2015.12.06.0928 CST)]

CONGRATULATIONS! Tim and Rick.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Lloyd

P.S. I won’t muddy the ‘purity’ of this simple praise and good wish with my own comments on the Australian Academic Press release.

yyanimation12.gif

Dr. Lloyd Klinedinst
10 Dover Lane
Villa Ridge, MO 63089-2001
HomeVoice: (636) 451-3232

Lloyd Mobile: (314)-609-5571
email: lloydk@klinedinst.com

website: http://www.klinedinst.com

image00126.gif

···

On Dec 6, 2015, at 08:55, Bruce Abbott bbabbott@frontier.com wrote:

“Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US

[Fred Nickols (2015.12.06.1034)]

I will echo Bruce Abbott’s comment below. And I’ll add to it.

Most of my “actions� are observable, including by me. I can and do have perceptions of my own actions. That means I can act to control those perceptions just as I would any other perceived variable. I plan. I conceive. I carry out. I adjust. I adapt. I do indeed act to control perceptions of my own actions.  I can and do lay out abstract courses of action that probably fit at the program level in the HPCT hierarchy.

Example. A couple of days ago a neighbor gave me two office chairs. They had been disassembled so I received two seats, two backs, two bases and a bag full of bolts. I spent some time examining them to see how they fit together and which bolts went with which chair. I thought through what I would have to do to assemble them and I experimented with how to hold the parts while inserting, starting and then tightening the bolts. Did I focus on my muscle commands to insert the Allen wrench or turn it? Nope. What I did do was form reference signals regarding the parts fitting together and then behaved in ways that achieved those conditions. I assume my brain was involved in all of it and my muscles in much of it.

There is a research protocol that involves the subject talking aloud in the course of going through some process. If I had thought of it I could have recorded what was going through my mind as I figured out how to assemble those two chairs and then assembled them. Maybe I’ll do that next time something like this comes up.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Bruce Abbott [mailto:bbabbott@frontier.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2015 9:56 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: RE: Talkin’ Control Blues (was Re: Review of Hommel’s Theory of Event Coding)

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.05.1015) –

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understand?

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I looks to be pitched at just the right level for the intended audience.

But in the Preface you say

The next chapters are about how this controlling works. They describe how the brain and nervous system allow you to act appropriately to consistently achieve your goals in an unpredictably changing world. We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

Folks who think about it will question that last sentence. If your brain doesn’t specify how you are going to carry out your goals, what does?

Bruce A.

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.0930)]

···

On Sat, Dec 5, 2015 at 11:43 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

WM: Thanks for the comprehensive answer Rick! I can’t wait to get my own copy of the book!

RM: Thanks Warren. That’s one copy sold, 999, 999 to go;-)

Best

Rick

Warren

On 5 Dec 2015, at 18:15, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.05.1015)]

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understand?

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

WM: Also, considering that most people don’t have an accurate operational definition of what control actually is, they will often think they already understand control when they don’t.

RM: Yes, that’s why I think it’s important that the first thing we explain to people about PCT is what control is; what organisms are doing when they control. I agree that few people have an accurate operational definition of what control actually is. In the Hommel paper on “action control”, for example, the term “control” means something like “cause”; making something happen. In TEC, a motor signal makes a kinesthetic perception happen. So the TEC model sounds a lot like a “control of perception” model of “action”. But, in fact, it is not. The kinesthetic perception is simply caused by the motor signal. As you noted in your review, the perception is not controlled inasmuch as it is not being maintained in a reference state, protected from other simultaneous influences – disturbances – on its state . There is no concept of a controlled quantity being perceived and controlled in TEC. So TEC is not a model of control; it is a model of how to produce a consistent result – output – in a DISTURBANCE FREE environment.

WM: So, I am not sure whether making this statement is the key to disseminating PCT, are you?

RM: I don’t think “making a particular kind of statement” is ever a good way to disseminate PCT. What I am pretty sure of is that an important part of explaining PCT – possibly the most important part – is explaining the nature of the phenomenon PCT explains: the phenomenon of controlling. And that will take a bit more than one statement. I think what we have to do is get good at explaining what controlling is and how controlling differs from the “behavior” that biological, behavioral and social scientists have been trying to understand for the last 100 years.

Best regards

Rick

Warren

On 5 Dec 2015, at 01:02, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.04.1700)]


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:50 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

Text version…

RM: Thanks, Warren. This is an excellent review of “Action control according to TEC (theory of event coding)” by Bernhard Hommel. I particularly liked your list of “limitations” of the TEC theory. The first two in particular made me realize that the difference between TEC theory and PCT results from the fact that they are explanations of different phenomena, not different explanations of the same phenomenon. TEC is a an explanation of behavior as generated output (action); PCT is an explanation of behavior as control. I realized this after reading the first two limitations of TEC theory that you point out in your review:

(a) perception is still associated with specific actions

(b) the process of acting against disturbances through negative feedback control is not specified

RM: These are limitations only if the phenomenon TEC were trying to explain was control: the production of consistent results in a disturbance prone environment. A theory that explains control has to include an explanation of how the behaving system manages to vary its actions appropriately in order to produce such consistent results. Such consistency – the fact that the results of action are kept in reference states – can’t be explained by a theory that has inputs (perceptions of the state of the controlled result) associated with specific actions. A theory that explains control will inevitably end up with the same input
s (perceptions) often being associated with different actions-- so the theory will not have limitation (a) – and this will occur as part of the process of acting against the effect of disturbances to the state of the controlled result – so the theory will not have limitation (b).

RM: This is why people with theories that seem somewhat similar to PCT are rarely (actually, never) moved to"get on board" with PCT. PCT is the only theory around that explains the controlling done by living systems. All other theories – equilibrium theories, self-regulation theories, manual control theories, whatever --are trying to explain something other than control. What distinguishes PCT from all other theories of behavior is the phenomenon it explains – control – not the theory itself.

Best

Rick

In contrast, in PCT:

(a) any action is carried out to control perception but it is not tied to a specific perception; in PCT behaviour is defined by the perceptual variables it controls at various levels in a hierachy. Any regularity we see in behaviour is because of the perceptual (kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, visual, etc) variabkes that are being controlled as that behaviour is observed.

(b) any observable action is a property of the environment as well as the individual - when one opens a door the weight, angle etc of the door are a component of how that action is observed. In order to achieve controlled perception, feedback from ongoing current perception must be corrected online and negative feedback contro
l is the process through which this occurs.

© PCT includes a putative 11 levels of perception. Going up the hierarchy these levels go from proximal to distal but the 11 levels provides a much more refined, flexible architecture

(d) PCT describes how mental simulation can operate through a specific recurrent link within a level in the hierarchy and describes how the phenomenology and content of the mental simulation maps neatly onto the specific levels at which the recurrent link occurs.

(e) PCT provides mathematical specification and computer models of how learning occurs within the architecture

(f) PCT is a theory to build functional models, as in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, engineering) one tests the validity of the theory through developments in technology.

I hope this sparks some interest and further discussion!

All the best,

Warren


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 11:33 AM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

For your interest CSGers!

http://bernhard-hommel.eu/Action%20control%20according%20to%20the%20theory%20of%20event%20coding.pdf

<IMG_0591.PNG>


Dr Warren Mansell
Reader in Clinical Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
2nd Floor Zochonis Building
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
Email: warren.mansell@manchester.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 8589

Website: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/staff/131406

Advanced notice of a new transdiagnostic therapy manual, authored by Carey, Mansell & Tai - Principles-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Method of Levels Approach

Available Now

Check www.pctweb.org for further information on Perceptual Control Theory

Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1035)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)

BA: Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I looks to be pitched at just the right level for the intended audience.

RM: Thanks. Hope you buy a few copies;-)

BA: But in the Preface you say

The next chapters are about how this controlling works. They describe how the brain and nervous system allow you to act appropriately to consistently achieve your goals in an unpredictably changing world. We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

BA: Folks who think about it will question that last sentence. If your brain doesn’t specify how you are going to carry out your goals, what does?

RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III) Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models of control – and doing it without going into detail about how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.

RM: When we say that “your brain does this [controlling] by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them” we are saying that, according to PCT, the brain produces intended results by specifying (via the setting of a reference signal) perceptual inputs (goals) rather than the motor outputs (actions) that produce these results, as in MCT models.

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.

RM: So readers may question the statement that “the brain specifies the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them” but I think it correctly captures the essential difference between PCT and all other models of behavior (controlling). In PCT, behavior is control of input; in all other models, behavior is control of output. That’s the main point of that little sentence in the preface – controlling is control of input, not output – and I think we explain the “control of input” process pretty well in the chapter on PCT. But I hope you will get a copy and see for yourself. And, of course, let us know what you think.

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1110)]

···

Fred Nickols (2015.12.06.1034)–

Â

FN: I will echo Bruce Abbott’s comment below. And I’ll add to it.

RM: See me recent reply to Bruce [Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1035)]. I hope Bruce’s comment won’t keep you from buying the book!

Â

 FN: Most of my “actionsâ€? are observable, including by me.Â

RM: Right. And your brain controls those actions by specifying the goals to be achieved (how you want to perceive the action) rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.For example, if you think of “making a fist” as an “action” that you control then your brain controls this action by specifying the goal of a particular configuration of kinesthetic and propioceptive sensations; the actions (muscle tensions) that produce this goal perception are not specified by the brain; they are part of the causal loop that brings the goal perception to the specified state (“fist”). Â

RM: A “specification” is a requirement for the state of a variable. In PCT, the variables whose states are specified (required) by the brain are input (perceptual) not output (action) variables.Â

FN: I can and do have perceptions of my own actions. That means I can act to control those perceptions just as I would any other perceived variable.Â

RM: Exactly!

Â

FN: I plan. I conceive.Â

 RM: This is done in imagination.

FN: I carry out. I adjust. I adapt.

RM: And this is real time controlling.Â

Â

 FN: I do indeed act to control perceptions of my own actions. I can and do lay out abstract courses of action that probably fit at the program level in the HPCT hierarchy.

 RM: The “laying out” of the course of action is done in imagination; the carrying out of the course of actions is control of a program perception. When you control a program perception – or any perception – you are not (and cannot be) specifying the actions that result in control of those perceptions due to the fact that you are doing this controlling in a world of unpredictably changing circumstances.

Â

FN: Example. A couple of days ago a neighbor gave me two office chairs. They had been disassembled so I received two seats, two backs, two bases and a bag full of bolts. I spent some time examining them to see how they fit together and which bolts went with which chair. I thought through what I would have to do to assemble them and I experimented with how to hold the parts while inserting, starting and then tightening the bolts. Did I focus on my muscle commands to insert the Allen wrench or turn it? Nope. What I did do was form reference signals regarding the parts fitting together and then behaved in ways that achieved those conditions. I assume my brain was involved in all of it and my muscles in much of it.

Â

FN: There is a research protocol that involves the subject talking aloud in the course of going through some process. If I had thought of it I could have recorded what was going through my mind as I figured out how to assemble those two chairs and then assembled them. Maybe I’ll do that next time something like this comes up.

RM: That would be a good exercise. What you should do is write as detailed a description as possible of what you are going to do, down to the most detailed action you plan to take. Then record yourself as you actually do it. I think you’ll see that the actions you planned are not quite the same as the actions you actually took to assemble the chairs and this discrepancy should be most obvious for the “lowest level” actions that you had planned to take.Â

BestÂ

Rick

Â

Â

Fred Nickols

Â

From: Bruce Abbott [mailto:bbabbott@frontier.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2015 9:56 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: RE: Talkin’ Control Blues (was Re: Review of Hommel’s Theory of Event Coding)

Â

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)]

Â

Rick Marken (2015.12.05.1015) –

Â

On Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 11:17 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

W: So Rick, does that mean we need to make a big effort to explain why control is so important to understand?

Â

RM: I think so, yes. Definitely. I believe the first thing we should do whenever we try to explain PCT is make it clear that PCT explains the CONTROLLING done by people (and other living organisms). Then we should explain what controlling IS. Then we should explain that all behavior  – simple behavior like lifting a finger and complex behavior like getting a PhD – IS controlling. Then we can introduce PCT as the explanation of the controlling done by living organisms. And finally we can show the practical implications of the PCT model of controlling for understanding why people have personal and interpersonal problems.Â

Â

RM: This is actually precisely what Tim Carey and I did in our book “Controlling People”, a “popularized” introduction to PCT that has just been released in Australia and should be released in North America and Europe by mid December (just in time  for Xmas!). I’ll make a formal announcement once the book is released in the US but, if anyone is interested, there is some preview information available at the publisher’s website:

Â

https://www.australianacademicpress.com.au/books/details/284/Controlling_People_The_Paradoxical_Nature_of_Being_Human

Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I looks to be pitched at just the right level for the intended audience.

Â

But in the Preface you say

The next chapters are about how this controlling works. They describe how the brain and nervous system allow you to act appropriately to consistently achieve your goals in an unpredictably changing world. We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

Folks who think about it will question that last sentence. If your brain doesn’t specify how you are going to carry out your goals, what does?

Â

Bruce A.

Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.11.06.1450 EST)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1035) –

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)

BA: Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I looks to be pitched at just the right level for the intended audience.

RM: Thanks. Hope you buy a few copies;-)

BA: But in the Preface you say

The next chapters are about how this controlling works. They describe how the brain and nervous system allow you to act appropriately to consistently achieve your goals in an unpredictably changing world. We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

BA: Folks who think about it will question that last sentence. If your brain doesn’t specify how you are going to carry out your goals, what does?

RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III) Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models of control – and doing it without going into detail about how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.

Yes, I understand that you are limited in what you can say in a Preface; my suggestion would have been to leave out the part beginning “rather than, “ because “actions� is likely to be misunderstood by the reader in a way that makes the sentence appear contrary to common sense.

RM: When we say that “your brain does this [controlling] by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them” we are saying that, according to PCT, the brain produces intended results by specifying (via the setting of a reference signal) perceptual inputs (goals) rather than the motor outputs (actions) that produce these results, as in MCT models.

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.

Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function?  Please elaborate. Normally in PCT we think of variations in the error signal as the cause variations in the actions, and assume that the output function does not vary (unless reorganization is occurring).

Bruce A.

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1310)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.11.06.1450 EST)–

Â

RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III) Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models of control – and doing it without going into detail about how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.Â

Â

BA: Yes, I understand that you are limited in what you can say in a Preface; my suggestion would have been to leave out the part beginning “rather than, “ because “actions� is likely to be misunderstood by the reader in a way that makes the sentence appear contrary to common sense.

RM: But it is contrary to common sense. Control loops operate in a way that conflicts with a lot of common sense, where “common sense” refers to an S-R or causal way of thinking about behavior. The fact is that the brain does not specify actions (according to PCT) and that is quite contrary to the “common sense” idea that it does. That’s why models like MCT are so popular and PCT is not; people can’t believe that PCT works the way it does. But it does!

Â

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.Â

Â

BA: Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function? Please elaborate.Â

RM: One of the main output functions involved in controlling is a muscle which converts an error (efferent) signal, e, into actions, q.o, such as a force at a joint. The amount of force produced per unit error signal varies due to variations in muscle fatigue. Representing the output function as a linear, we get q.o = k*e. Variations in muscle fatigue would be represented as variations in k, the coefficient that converts error into action.Â

Â

BA: Normally in PCT we think of variations in the error signal as the cause variations in the actions,

RM: And we still do. The error signal, e, causes action, q.o, but it doesn’t specify it. That is, variations in e do not necessarily produce concomitant variations in q.o (no control of output!) . The reference signal, r, in a properly functioning control loop, does specify the perception, p; variations in r do produce concomitant variations in p (control of perception!). You can demonstrate this to yourself by making the output function gain in your control system simulation a variable – say a low frequency, low amplitude sine wave. The system will still control in the sense that it will keep p at its specified value, r. But now q.o will not be kept at a value that is proportional to e.Â

BestÂ

Rick

Â

and assume that the output function does not vary (unless reorganization is occurring).

Â

Bruce A.

Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[Martin Taylor 2015.12.06.16.17]

Even accepting that it is only a preface, isn't Bruce correct? It's

not a problem for PCT to acknowledge that reorganization changes the
brain, is it? And doesn’t reorganization determine how the brain
does “specify how you are going to carry out your goals”.
Martin

···

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1035)]

                Bruce

Abbott (2015.12.06.0955 EST)

                        BA:

Congrats to you and Tim on the new book! I
looks to be pitched at just the right level
for the intended audience.

RM: Thanks. Hope you buy a few copies;-)

                        BA:

But in the Preface you say

                        The next

chapters are about how this controlling
works. They describe how the brain and
nervous system allow you to act
appropriately to consistently achieve your
goals in an unpredictably changing world. We
will show that your brain does this by
specifying the goals to be achieved rather
than the actions that should be used to
achieve them.

                        BA:

Folks who think about it will question that
last sentence. If your brain doesn’t
specify how you are going to carry out your
goals, what does?

          RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as

succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental
difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III)
Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models
of control – and doing it without going into detail about
how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.

[From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1310) –

Bruce Abbott (2015.11.06.1450 EST)–

RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III) Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models of control – and doing it without going into detail about how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.

BA: Yes, I understand that you are limited in what you can say in a Preface; my suggestion would have been to leave out the part beginning “rather than, “ because “actions� is likely to be misunderstood by the reader in a way that makes the sentence appear contrary to common sense.

RM: But it is contrary to common sense. Control loops operate in a way that conflicts with a lot of common sense, where “common sense” refers to an S-R or causal way of thinking about behavior. The fact is that the brain does not specify actions (according to PCT) and that is quite contrary to the “common sense” idea that it does. That’s why models like MCT are so popular and PCT is not; people can’t believe that PCT works the way it does. But it does!

You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actions� (means) with which to achieve them. In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the lever� is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.� The idea that we use such “actions� as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.� What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actions� (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.

BA: Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function? Please elaborate.

RM: One of the main output functions involved in controlling is a muscle which converts an error (efferent) signal, e, into actions, q.o, such as a force at a joint. The amount of force produced per unit error signal varies due to variations in muscle fatigue. Representing the output function as a linear, we get q.o = k*e. Variations in muscle fatigue would be represented as variations in k, the coefficient that converts error into action.

O.K., that clarifies what you had in mind when you stated that the characteristics of the output function may vary over time.  Similar changes can occur in the input function, as in sensory adaptation, as Martin pointed out. In that case p will still be controlled to the same reference but q.i.’s value will now be stabilized at a value different than before against disturbances applied to it, as if tracking a new reference value.

Bruce A.

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1645)]

···

Martin Taylor (2015.12.06.16.17)–

MT: Even accepting that it is only a preface, isn’t Bruce correct?

RM: No, I still thinks we are correct to say that, in a control loop, the brain species goals (in the form of perceptual inputs) not actions (outputs). A control system controls (specifies) what it gets, not what it does to get it.

MT: It’s not a problem for PCT to acknowledge that reorganization changes the brain, is it?

RM: Of course not. And we discuss that in the book. But what we’re doing here in this little segment of the preface is describing how the brain does controlling. And it does it by specifying perceptual goals, not by specifying the actions to take to achieve those goals.

MT: And doesn’t reorganization determine how the brain does “specify how you are going to carry out your goals”.

RM: Yes, according to Modern Control Theory (MCT); No, according to PCT. And our book is about PCT.

RM: Since this is Tim’s book too I’m copying to him so he can have his say in the matter. But I must admit I am more than a little dismayed that this book – just the preface yet – is already getting the kind of reception on CSGNet that I would expect it to get from a coven of conventional psychologists. What’s going on here?

Best

Rick


Richard S. Marken

www.mindreadings.com
Author of Doing Research on Purpose.
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

                         BA:

But in the Preface you say

                        The next

chapters are about how this controlling
works. They describe how the brain and
nervous system allow you to act
appropriately to consistently achieve your
goals in an unpredictably changing world. We
will show that your brain does this by
specifying the goals to be achieved rather
than the actions that should be used to
achieve them.

                        BA:

Folks who think about it will question that
last sentence. If your brain doesn’t
specify how you are going to carry out your
goals, what does?

          RM: What we are doing here is trying to describe, as

succinctly and provocatively as possible, the fundamental
difference between PCT and what Bill called (in LCS III)
Modern Control Theory (MCT) or Analyze-Computer-Act models
of control – and doing it without going into detail about
how PCT works; it is the Preface, after all.

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1745)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)–

BA: You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

Â

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

Â

BA: The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actionsâ€? (means) with which to achieve them.Â

RM: As I said before, according to PCT the brain causes (via the error signal) actions, it doesn’t specify them. Specification means “make this particular value happen”. The reference signal specifies the value of the perceptual signal; the error signal does not specify the value of output (action). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â

Â

BA: In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the leverâ€? is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.â€? The idea that we use such “actionsâ€? as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.â€? What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actionsâ€? (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: Yes, I can see how saying that the brain specifies goals, not actions, could be jarring. But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control. All control systems in the hierarchy specify what is to be perceived, not what is to be done. This language may be jarring or seem to violate common sense but it is a correct description of how control systems work and maybe it will peak interest in the book. Heck, the title is pretty jarring too, and intentionally so. PCT is pretty jarring but, then, so was the idea that the earth rotates and moves around the sun. Scientific knowledge can be pretty jarring; look at how Republicans react to climate science.Â

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.Â

Â

BA: Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function? Please elaborate.Â

RM: One of the main output functions involved in controlling is a muscle which converts an error (efferent) signal, e, into actions, q.o, such as a force at a joint. The amount of force produced per unit error signal varies due to variations in muscle fatigue. Representing the output function as a linear, we get q.o = k*e. Variations in muscle fatigue would be represented as variations in k, the coefficient that converts error into action.Â

Â

BA: O.K., that clarifies what you had in mind when you stated that the characteristics of the output function may vary over time. Similar changes can occur in the input function, as in sensory adaptation, as Martin pointed out. In that case p will still be controlled to the same reference but q.i.’s value will now be stabilized at a value different than before against disturbances applied to it, as if tracking a new reference value.

RM: Yes, changes in the input function will result in q.i being controlled at a different value; p, however, will still be controlled at the level specified by the reference signal. That is, variations in p will always match variations in r. But changes in the output function will result in q.o (action) no longer being made to match (or be proportional to) the level “specified” by the error signal . That is, variations in q.o will no longer match (or be proportional to) variations in e. So I think it’s still correct to say that controlling is done by a system that specifies the goals to be achieved (perceptions) rather than the actions (outputs) to be taken.Â

Â

RM: I hope you and Martin will get the book so you can see if there is anything else wrong with it, from your perspective.Â

RM: Again I’m copying to Tim; he can’t reply on CSGNet but I’m sure he’ll appreciate your suggestions.

BestÂ

RickÂ


Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.07.0725 EST, “a date that will live in infamy�)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1745) –

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)–

BA: You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

BA: The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actions� (means) with which to achieve them.

RM: As I said before, according to PCT the brain causes (via the error signal) actions, it doesn’t specify them. Specification means “make this particular value happen”. The reference signal specifies the value of the perceptual signal; the error signal does not specify the value of output (action).

I’m not arguing about what PCT says.  I’m saying that it’s not what the ordinary person will take your sentence to mean. I’m confident that you correct that misconception when you describe PCT in the book.

BA: In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the lever� is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.� The idea that we use such “actions� as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.� What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actions� (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: Yes, I can see how saying that the brain specifies goals, not actions, could be jarring.

The jarring comes from using a technical definition of the term “action� that doesn’t fit what most people mean by that term. To that I can now add “specify.� The rat’s brain, you are saying, doesn’t “specify� that pressing the lever will be the means by which it obtains the pellet.

But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control.

Of course. But I assert that the rat’s brain does indeed specify lever-pressing, once it has formed the appropriate control system(s). Lever pressing involves a complex series of controlled perceptions each of which has a specified goal-state: lever approached, paw raised above the lever, paw contacting the lever, lever depressed. Lever-pressing is a controlled perception. What the rat’s brain does not do is specify the specific muscle contractions that will be required to bring about these goal-states.

All control systems in the hierarchy specify what is to be perceived, not what is to be done. This language may be jarring or seem to violate common sense but it is a correct description of how control systems work and maybe it will peak interest in the book. Heck, the title is pretty jarring too, and intentionally so.

Yes, I appreciated the double meaning!

Look, Rick, I’m not criticizing the book. It’s just that that sentence in the Preface raises for me what I take to be in important issue for PCT, and that is how a reader can jump to incorrect conclusions about PCT based on statements that seem obviously false, given the way the reader will interpret their meaning. But maybe you are right, that the jarring effect will peak interest in the book.

Bruce

[From Fred Nickols (2015.12.07.0805)]

I’m not overly concerned about the jarring effect; I’m more concerned that many people will be put off by it and turn away from PCT.

Fred Nickols

···

From: Bruce Abbott [mailto:bbabbott@frontier.com]
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2015 7:26 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: RE: Talkin’ Control Blues (was Re: Review of Hommel’s Theory of Event Coding)

From Bruce Abbott (2015.12.07.0725 EST, “a date that will live in infamy�)]

Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1745) –

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)–

BA: You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

BA: The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actions� (means) with which to achieve them.

RM: As I said before, according to PCT the brain causes (via the error signal) actions, it doesn’t specify them. Specification means “make this particular value happen”. The reference signal specifies the value of the perceptual signal; the error signal does not specify the value of output (action).

I’m not arguing about what PCT says. I’m saying that it’s not what the ordinary person will take your sentence to mean. I’m confident that you correct that misconception when you describe PCT in the book.

BA: In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the lever� is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.� The idea that we use such “actions� as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.� What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actions� (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: Yes, I can see how saying that the brain specifies goals, not actions, could be jarring.

The jarring comes from using a technical definition of the term “action� that doesn’t fit what most people mean by that term. To that I can now add “specify.� The rat’s brain, you are saying, doesn’t “specify� that pressing the lever will be the means by which it obtains the pellet.

But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control.

Of course. But I assert that the rat’s brain does indeed specify lever-pressing, once it has formed the appropriate control system(s). Lever pressing involves a complex series of controlled perceptions each of which has a specified goal-state: lever approached, paw raised above the lever, paw contacting the lever, lever depressed. Lever-pressing is a controlled perception. What the rat’s brain does not do is specify the specific muscle contractions that will be required to bring about these goal-states.

All control systems in the hierarchy specify what is to be perceived, not what is to be done. This language may be jarring or seem to violate common sense but it is a correct description of how control systems work and maybe it will peak interest in the book. Heck, the title is pretty jarring too, and intentionally so.

Yes, I appreciated the double meaning!

Look, Rick, I’m not criticizing the book. It’s just that that sentence in the Preface raises for me what I take to be in important issue for PCT, and that is how a reader can jump to incorrect conclusions about PCT based on statements that seem obviously false, given the way the reader will interpret their meaning. But maybe you are right, that the jarring effect will peak interest in the book.

Bruce

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.07.1630)]

···

On Sun, Dec 6, 2015 at 7:29 PM, Warren Mansell wmansell@gmail.com wrote:

WM: Â Thanks Rick. I think Martin Taylor made the same helpful distinction between ‘specification vs control’ in the contrast between 'command vs control.Â

RM: The distinction I was making was between “cause vs specification”. There is certainly a distinction to be made between “specification and control” but it’s more like that between apples and fruits: specification (via the reference signal) is part of the process of control.

BestÂ

Rick

Â

There is a paper that could be written on this distinction in itself…

Warren

On 7 Dec 2015, at 01:44, Richard Marken rsmarken@gmail.com wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.06.1745)]


Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.06.1720 EST)–

BA: You have forgotten the context in which I made that statement. The sentence to which I referred was this:

Â

We will show that your brain does this by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them.

Â

BA: The brain specifies not only the goals to be achieved but also the “actionsâ€? (means) with which to achieve them.Â

RM: As I said before, according to PCT the brain causes (via the error signal) actions, it doesn’t specify them. Specification means “make this particular value happen”. The reference signal specifies the value of the perceptual signal; the error signal does not specify the value of output (action). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â

Â

BA: In an operant chamber, the rat that desires a food pellet learns that it can obtain a pellet by pressing the lever. “Pressing the lever� is an example of the commonsense meaning of the term “action.� The idea that we use such “actions� as pressing a lever to achieve our goals is certainly not “contrary to common sense.� What common sense overlooks is that pressing a lever is itself a controlled physical and perceptual event that to produce requires varied “actions� (in terms of how the lever is approached, what muscles are employed, etc.), because of different starting positions, muscle fatigue, and incidental disturbances.

RM: Yes, I can see how saying that the brain specifies goals, not actions, could be jarring. But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control. All control systems in the hierarchy specify what is to be perceived, not what is to be done. This language may be jarring or seem to violate common sense but it is a correct description of how control systems work and maybe it will peak interest in the book. Heck, the title is pretty jarring too, and intentionally so. PCT is pretty jarring but, then, so was the idea that the earth rotates and moves around the sun. Scientific knowledge can be pretty jarring; look at how Republicans react to climate science.Â

RM: In PCT, actions are not “specified”; they are caused by the error signal. And, due to variations over time in characteristics of the output function that converts error into action, the same error signal will produce different actions at different times. So the error signal is not a “specification” for action. the reference signal, however, is a specification for perception.Â

Â

BA: Variations over time in the characteristics of the output function? Please elaborate.Â

RM: One of the main output functions involved in controlling is a muscle which converts an error (efferent) signal, e, into actions, q.o, such as a force at a joint. The amount of force produced per unit error signal varies due to variations in muscle fatigue. Representing the output function as a linear, we get q.o = k*e. Variations in muscle fatigue would be represented as variations in k, the coefficient that converts error into action.Â

Â

BA: O.K., that clarifies what you had in mind when you stated that the characteristics of the output function may vary over time. Similar changes can occur in the input function, as in sensory adaptation, as Martin pointed out. In that case p will still be controlled to the same reference but q.i.’s value will now be stabilized at a value different than before against disturbances applied to it, as if tracking a new reference value.

RM: Yes, changes in the input function will result in q.i being controlled at a different value; p, however, will still be controlled at the level specified by the reference signal. That is, variations in p will always match variations in r. But changes in the output function will result in q.o (action) no longer being made to match (or be proportional to) the level “specified” by the error signal . That is, variations in q.o will no longer match (or be proportional to) variations in e. So I think it’s still correct to say that controlling is done by a system that specifies the goals to be achieved (perceptions) rather than the actions (outputs) to be taken.Â

Â

RM: I hope you and Martin will get the book so you can see if there is anything else wrong with it, from your perspective.Â

RM: Again I’m copying to Tim; he can’t reply on CSGNet but I’m sure he’ll appreciate your suggestions.

BestÂ

RickÂ


Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

[From Rick Marken (2015.12.07.1750)]

···

Bruce Abbott (2015.12.07.0725 EST, “a date that will live in infamyâ€?)

Â

BA: I’m not arguing about what PCT says. I’m saying that it’s not what the ordinary person will take your sentence to mean. I’m confident that you correct that misconception when you describe PCT in the book.

 RM: But what the ordinary person takes it to mean is what I intend it to mean. PCT says that we specify (and control) inputs (goal perceptions), not outputs (actions). That was one of the early "mantras of PCT: We control what we perceive, not what we do. Â

Â

BA: The jarring comes from using a technical definition of the term “actionâ€? that doesn’t fit what most people mean by that term. To that I can now add “specify.â€? The rat’s brain, you are saying, doesn’t “specifyâ€? that pressing the lever will be the means by which it obtains the pellet.

RM: But it doesn’t (according to PCT). It specifies a goal (the perception of a pressed lever) as the means of producing another goal (the perception of the “reinforcement”); it doesn’t specify the means of getting these perceptions to happen. Behavior is control of input, not output.

Â

RM:Â But it is, nevertheless, the correct way to describe how a control system operates – at all levels of control.

Â

BA: Of course. But I assert that the rat’s brain does indeed specify lever-pressing, once it has formed the appropriate control system(s).Â

RM: You say “of course” it’s the right way of saying how a control system works and then in the next sentence you say it’s the wrong way. The rat’s brain does indeed specify lever-pressing, as a perceptual goal; it doesn’t specify the means of getting that goal to occur. Behavior is the control of perception, according to PCT. Modern Control Theory (MCT, described in Ch. 1 of LCS III) says that the brain specifies the actions that should be taken to produce a goal result. PCT specifically rejects MCT.Â

Â

BA: Lever pressing involves a complex series of controlled perceptions each of which has a specified goal-state: lever approached, paw raised above the lever, paw contacting the lever, lever depressed. Lever-pressing is a controlled perception. What the rat’s brain does not do is specify the specific muscle contractions that will be required to bring about these goal-states.

RM: Exactly. So how do you say that succinctly in the preface to the book. Maybe I should have said “ We will show that your brain does this controlling by specifying the goals states of what people think of as the “actions” to be achieved rather than the specific muscle contractions that are required to bring about these goal states”. But somehow I think our way of saying it –  We will show that your brain does this controlling by specifying the goals to be achieved rather than the actions that should be used to achieve them – gets the same point across more clearly and succinctly.

 BA: Look, Rick, I’m not criticizing the book. It’s just that that sentence in the Preface raises for me what I take to be in important issue for PCT, and that is how a reader can jump to incorrect conclusions about PCT based on statements that seem obviously false, given the way the reader will interpret their meaning. But maybe you are right, that the jarring effect will peak interest in the book.

RM: I think it’s impossible to write things in a way that will keep readers from jumping to incorrect conclusions.All you can do is the best you can. Look at the result of Powers’ calling his book “Behavior: The Control of Perception”. I think that was a great title and a clear description of what the book is about. But a lot of people, many on this net, took that title to mean that the book justifies a post-modernist philosophy where whatever one thinks is the right thing to do is right because “it’s just my perception”. And there was no clearer writer than Bill Powers and many (most?) of the people who read his works (and did his demonstrations) still misconstrue much of what he wrote.

RM: I’m sure there are ways to improve the book. But at some point we had to say “This is it” and go with it. I appreciate your efforts to improve the book but both Tim and I feel that the particular phrase you find problematic is fine the way it is. We’d appreciate hearing any comments/criticisms from you (and anyone else) once you get a copy of the whole book. And if you can it would sure be nice if you would write a nice review on Amazon. I just found out that it is schedules to be released in the US (on Amazon and in book stores) on Dec 22, right before Xmas but, still in time to give it as a gift to lots of people;-)

Best regards

Rick


Richard S. MarkenÂ

www.mindreadings.com
Author of  Doing Research on Purpose
Now available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble