Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cognitive Jigsaw

Over the last month I heard four people, all of them 'famous'; and the strange thing was that all of them had something in common, in the way they described their views of certain aspects of Cognition. Let's see (in order of appearance) Dan Sperber: Relevance Theory. Renee Baillargeon: Physical Reasoning in Infancy. Richard Aslin: Constraints on Statistical Learning. Gergely Csibra: Pedagogy: A Human Specific Adaptation. Ok. Starting from the easiest links. Csibra's Pedagogy & Sperber's Relevance. Pedagogy: Human communication has some unique characteristics, it is: Ostensive- Makes the communication explicit; e.g. gaze holding ...1 Referential- Can be about something that is not commonly available (input-wise) to one or both of the interlocutors...2 Inferential- Makes assumptions about relevant context. ...3 Relevant context! ---> Sperber; Relevance theory; wherein the very act of communication is seen as an ostensive communicative cue; the assumption is that the listener believes that (in general), the communication will be meaningful in the given context. This is the Communicative Principle of Relevance (see, e.g., this paper)....4 Relevance theory in fact is like other Inferential Theories (like Gricean pragmatics), wherein: (quote from the paper above):
"... all a communicator has to do in order to convey a thought is to give her audience appropriate evidence of her intention to convey it. More generally, a mental state may be revealed by a behaviour (or by the trace a behaviour leaves in the environment). Behaviour capable of revealing the content of a mental state may also succeed in communicating this content to an audience. For this to happen, it must be used ostensively: that is, it must be displayed so as to make manifest an intention to inform the audience of this content." ...5
Which is pretty much the same thing as in 2 and 3 above. Coming Next: Aslin & Baillargeon

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