Template Model of Perception (was Re: linguistic ...)

[From Rick Marken (2003.11.19.1450)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.11.19 16:06 EST) to Bill Powers
(2003.11.19.1020 MST)–
It seems that you’re arguing against the proposition that is in the
subject heading of this thread, “linguistic structure in our shared environment”.

It’s certainly the proposition against which I have been arguing.
The environment provides the raw materials out of which our perceptions
of language are built. But perception of language, I argue, does not depend
on the existence of a shared linguistic structure in the environment.

That’s a hypothesis that seems to me to be a plausible
It is plausible. It just happens to wrong.
But this hypothesis is only a plausible explanation.
It is incapable of ultimate proof requiring direct access to reality.
No scientific hypothesis can be proven true. Such hypotheses can only be
proven false. The “linguistic structure is in the environment” hypothesis
can be (and has been) disproved by experiments that show that a consistent
perception results even when there is no consistent acoustical signal (and,
hence, no linguistic structure) in the environment.

Bill Powers:
I think we can show in the laboratory that there
are differences in repetitions that the listeners simply do not recognize
as differences. That’s actually pretty easy.

Of course there are, Bill. I have even emphasized those differences.

Maybe I don’t understand what you mean by “linguistic structure”? I think
of structure as a consistent set of relationships between elements.
I think of linguistic structure as some consistent set of relationships
between elements of the acoustical variables that are the presumed basis
of linguistic perception. So a linguistic structure might be, for
example, a consistent relationship between some elementary measures
of all frequency components, say, that are the basis of vowel perception.
Is this what you mean?

We can probably do this at every level of organization.
That is, we can show that when someone thinks he heard “pick up the pan”
twice in a row, the word “pan” was actually pronounced differently.
Yes indeed. But the difference is not out of range for that phoneme
in that person’s dialect.

It sounds to me like you think of linguistic structure as a consistent
set of relationships between elements in the environment but that some
range of variation is allowed. So if a tone with 2 components of
amplitude X and Y are heard as “a” then we will still hear “a” even if
the 2 components are not always at exactly the same frequency and amplitude.
Is this what you are saying? If so, you should know that this notion
is based on the assumption that the perceptual function is like a template
and that the acoustical variable has to fairly closely approximate the
“shape” of this template to be heard as, say, “a” rather than “e”. This
template model of perception does demand that the environment be “structured”
in a certain way to be perceived in a certain way. PCT is not based
on a template model of perception because there is just too much evidence
that rejects this hypothesis.
Best regards



Richard S. Marken, Ph.D.

Senior Behavioral Scientist

The RAND Corporation

PO Box 2138

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Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138

Tel: 310-393-0411 x7971

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E-mail: rmarken@rand.org