Friday, June 30, 2006

Color vision continued: What role do rods play in color vision, if any and how many dimensions/ variables we need.

There is a very descriptive and helpful book eye, brain and vision on Hravard's site and I was going through the chapter on color vision. It is posited there that color blindness occurs if one of the 3 cone pigments are not present and consequently one is not able to distinguish white light from a monochromatic light of certain wavelength. It is also posited that for color vision only 3 types of receptors are required (and are present in the form of 3 types of cones in the retina). Now here is some experimental work that I would like done for this experiment. What happens to someone who lacks the green pigment and who is exposed to light in the wavelength of light between the non-overlapping visual fields of blue cone and red cone. As per the arguments in the book, that should lead to total loss of color (and actual colorblindness as opposed to color-defectiveness for that range of colors) and thus ability to use only rods and thus get a black and white view of world for those wavelengths. Is that really so, as per color blind people with the green cone not present?

The other thought that passed while reading the article is that it uses projection of 3 types of monochromatic light with same intensities as the metaphor of choice while describing how the brain processes color. Unfortunately as we know, the blue color cone does not overlap with red color cones and this metaphor may not be right. Even, with this metaphor it strikes one as to how black is perceived, because the picture that is shown of 7 colors (including white) produced depends on a dim room in which the 3 lights are projected and the rods that would be useful in producing this black color are integral to the experimental setup of demonstrating the tri-color sufficiency of explaining the color vision. I , personally believe that rods do have a role in color perception and color perception may more involve the CMYK model than the RGB. This also brings the 'image formation' metaphor over the 'laser beam' model. Also, at the same time, due to Kline-bottle associations I may even venture forth and propose that in reality 6 types of colors/ color detecting devices may be required to fully apprehend the colors and we may still be in the process of evolving/ detecting such pigments. Maybe the rods themselves of nocturnal animals like wild cats may throw some light. Total armchair speculation!

Interestingly, the author of the above book concedes that Brown color is a bit difficult to explain, though purple can be easily explained or be intuitive. As per this article on color naming universals which references the article Berlin and Kay (1969) published under the title 'Basic Color Terms, their Universality and Evolution'. the brown appears in stage VI of a language evolution, where apparently as per my initial eight fold developmental model, a qualitatively different sort of leap needs to be taken. The original Harvard's book excerpt from "Eye, brain and vision" takes recourse to Herring theory of opponent processes, specifically that of red and yellow mixing to give orange and that when seen through black contrast giving appearance to brown. Thus for brown to be explained,, the 2 extreme edges of blue-yellow dimensions and red-green dimensions have to mix spatially at a point and then this has to be seen in contrast to another extreme of black-white dimension. Seems a complicated explanation and involves taking recourse to brains excitatory and inhibitory processes to provide explanation. I might revisit this later if some more suitable explanations in terms of some other inherent property of cooler like using both the hue, saturation, value and R,G,B model may explain brown. While HSV explains purple (in the sense of it being complement of green and actually lying in the region that sort of make ultra-violet and infra-red meet), it is surprising why it is not one of the words that are found while going from stage V to stage VI of language evolutions.

Endgame: Is CMYK actually CMYKW model, with white of paper acting as background essential for the CMYK to work in reproducing images?

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Memories, Memories and more Memories: How to mix N match

There is a recent article on Mixing Memories regarding the processes used in 'false memory' research.

Elizabeth Loftus has done a lot of research in false memory area and to summarise one of the methods refer to this article .You either invoke a true memory (in this case memories of say a visit to disneyland or similar place while reading an article or photo advertisement regarding the same and then while the memory is being reconstructed you insert a false element(in this case say showing a picture of Disneyland with Bugs bunny present) and later after the memory has been consolidated, the people may actually remember meeting bugs Bunny at Disneyland and when explanations are sought as to what they did while meeting bugs bunny, they would rationalize and come up with all sorts of activities. The explanations themselves may be very vivid and intriguing, but split-brain research by Micheal Gazzinga et al has shown that in split brain patients, when one eye(or brain region) is primed to one word (say scissors) and the other hand told to do something , it may pick up a scissor and start cutting things, the human as a whole though unaware of why he started doing the action may come up with all sorts of rationalizations. Thus all rational explanation by a person once the false memory got planted is of no relevance. We humans, as narrators of our life story, would come up with any explanation as to why that memory exists in our brain. This is called postevent misinformation and it is necessary that we keep this separate from the other type of false memory formation. In this typically Videos...or remembrance of visual needed as the contextual element and the false information has to be in the form of images or photos. Thus, this uses visual modality for it to be successful and relies on the visual perception, imagination, ideation etc. An interesting study could be to use lexical input, say asking someone to write about the trip to disneyland, show them or ask them to write bugs bunny, and then see if the memory can still be implanted. Imaginative activity during writing about one's trip to Disneyland may be a confound as it normally involves conjuring up past images. A better scenario would be writing a visit to Disneyland from a third person perspective.

The second mechanism of false memory introduction is less spectacular. It is known as Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm (DRM) and involves semantic priming. It involves presenting a semantically or conceptually related list of words and then when tested for a semantically or conceptually related word (that was not present in the initial list) as part of the test list and if the person remembers that critical word on test trial then it is assumed that a memory for that word has been formed in the subjects brain. Here it is not really possible to assert a-priori that the memory for the critical word was present prior to seeing the word on the word list or gets implanted the moment one sees the word on the word list. This test is mostly verbal based and uses the language or speech modality and thought/ memory processes that are mediated by language. Not sure whether this would work after memory consolidation too, as normally the 2 lists (original word list and trial list) are presented with little time for consolidation.

In my view it is important to keep the modalities different in the 2 cases.

The particular article referenced above refers to an article below
From Sahlin, B.H., Harding, M.G., & Seamon, J.G. (2005). When do false memories cross language boundaries in English-Spanish bilinguals? Memory and Cognition, 33(8), 1414-1421.
and here is some data from that study

This study uses DRM as the tool of study and Mixing Memory makes these inferences

The first is that there is a big difference in accuracy between words that were presented in the same language in the learning and recall lists (English-English and Spanish-Spanish in the table) and words that were presented in different languages in the learning and recall lists (English-Spanish and Spanish-English). Participants were much more accurate when recognizing list words, and were much more likely to mistakenly recognize critical words, for words presented in the same language.

The conclusions I draw are slightly different. For one it is clear that if we just look at the 'same language' studied-words data vis-a-vis the critical related-words data, then on trial 1 both show the same proportions of rememberence....i.e. after the learning phase the accuracy of list words is equivalent to the critical word due to semantic priming and as a matter of fact one can make a bold statement that the individual remembers none of the words, but only a semantic cloud...and when the trial list is presented to the individual it jutes picks those words from the list that belong to the semantic cloud and reconstructs his memory anew each time he sees the words.

This explanation works for the first trial. However when trials of similar nature keep on repeating, he sort of starts getting a hang of what the experiment is about and stops recognizing the critical words. This of course he unconsciously does and cannot verbalize that he has understood the experiment. If sufficient trials are run he would be able to understand consciously too the experiments. However, this unconscious understanding reflects on his performance in 2 ways. First, his recall of critical words that were not presented earlier drops. Secondly his recall of list words increases. How the individual does is questionable, but apparently instead of using semantic cloud as remembrance of lists studied, he may start using some other mechanism that allows accurate retention of actual words and also active inhibition of 'semantic cloud' way of memory. This is a classical case of mice getting insight in mouse trap and only utilizes data from same-language trials.

Lets look closely on the different-languages data. Here for the first trial itself, the proportion of right recognition of words-studied as well as critical related-words is lower than in the case of same-language scenario. This may suggest that the 'semantic cloud' metaphor may not work that great in different-languages situation or it works to the contrary by making the 'semantic cloud' or determining set too vast as to making recognition of a word as belonging to the earlier list become so problematic as to result in low proportions for both critical and regular words.

interestingly, over the 5 trials the memory for studied words decreases while that of critical words increases in this case of different-language condition. This suggests that while the 'semantic cloud' may be replaced by some other mechanism (say the classical right brain generalists to left brain particlarizer processing) , still the dual-language condition puts constraints on the use of particularistic method of perception, storage or retrieval. This can easily be tested in tri-or more linguals and see, if the same pattern emerges.

Mixing Memory concludes as
>>However, I think their data actually indicates something slightly different, and perhaps more interesting. While accuracy does increase over the five recall trials for critical words in the different language conditions, it dramatically decreases for list words over the five trials. I interpret this as an indication that as the availability of conceptual information decreased over the trials, participants had a difficult time recognizing list words, and an easier time rejecting critical words. This would imply that recognizing words learned in one language and then presented in another relies heavily on language-independent conceptual information.
I draw a similar conclusion, that the encoding process that is necessitated in this case of different-languages, demands that 'semantic clouds' be used while encoding because the semantic cloud may be the most apt/only way of encoding information when 2 languages are involved. If particulars may be used, they might be limited to keywords or critical words (that may overlap lexically in the two languages) and hence these may be stored with an explicit rider that these were not part of the list. However, the subsequent task demands that particular words be recalled. So while reconstructing, one might recall the critical word that was not related to the cloud, but was stored and hence that word may be rejected at a higher frequency; while the semantic cloud being too broad may result in less proportions for the trail words leading to less 'truer' recalls.

: would this suggest that if one wants not to fall in the false memory trap, one needs to study more and more languages? Also, would in that case, the rememberence of 'true' memories may also become less and less as one's 'semantic cloud' keeps expanding? Is it necessary to remember what you did not see in order to be a good eye witness who cannot be implanted with false memories by lexical suggestions?

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cognitive Development: The different perceptual systems while undertaking point-of-view tasks

Jean Piaget had initially proposed that something akin to theory-of-mind develops in the children quite late and they have difficulty seeing things from another person's perspective. The 2 most comment methods used to study this are false-belief tests and the sight-of-view-from-another-person's-perspective tests.

A recent insightful article on Cognitive Daily elaborate on the recent work that has been done on the second theory-of-mind test viz. the-sight-of-view tests. Please do read the article for details and some pictures used in the actual experimental setup

To quote the end conclusion of the article (emphasis added):
Michelon and Zacks argue that these experiments offer substantial evidence that we use at least two different methods to understand the perspective of others. When we are trying to decide whether someone else can see what we can see, these experiments suggest that we use the line-tracing method, but when we're trying to understand the relative positions of objects, we use the more cognitively demanding perspective-taking approach.

Now this conclusion when seen in the light of my earlier mails regarding Cognitive Maps and different models for Space like 3-D linear system, or R,theta,phi angular system induces one to stretch boundaries of analogies further and speculate that when one uses the Cartesian 3-D space metaphor, one may not necessarily need to put oneself in the place of another (as the origin in such systems are arbitrary) and one can trace the line from the other person to the target object and use trace-line mechanism to answer; but when one is forced to answer about left-right distinctions (that necessitate that if angular geometry is used then we have to distinguish between clockwise and anti-clockwise motion...and this may be with reference to most cases by ourselves as the origin), then the nature of task (making left-right distinctions) literally necessitate that one puts oneself in the place of the other person, and use angular geometry concepts to answer and this may take more time-to-respond as one has to literally rotate one's frames of reference to align at the new origin (that of the other person).

Interesting line of thought and more evidence regarding the validity of Cognitive Map approach and conclusions derived from it.

Endgame: To give a linguistic twist (and include the determining sets concepts), would the distinction between right-wrong actions of a person require us to literally put in the other person's shoe...and use angular geometry concepts?

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Time Space Metaphors: Do we have different metaphors based on different cultures( mouse traps)

Reading about "conceptual metaphor theory" may be useful for understanding the rest of this mail.

There are 2 great articles regarding space time metaphors on Mixing Memories. Yet the research seems to be focussed only on linear representations of time as Space is automatically assumed to be the Cartesian space of X,Y and Z co-ordinates and the metaphorical mapping of time to space is thus limited in this regard. Also, in the article time perception is regarded as based on either-or of future-movement or ego-movement.

Even when linear metaphors of time are concerned, one can have both future-movement or ego-movement simultaneously. I remember when I was giving IIT-JEE, and the date of exam was approaching, I used to sing a lot a hindi song "Tu hai meri kiran" from Baazigar and liked one of the lines of the stanza the most " faasle aur kam ho rahe hain, door se pass hum ho rahe hain" which means "The distance is becoming lesser and we are approaching each other from distance to closeness". This metaphor that I had used was more of event-based whereby both I (ego) as well as future(the test) were moving towards each other to meet at a particular instance/ event.

With reference to the second post on this blog describing how mice may get concepts of Space and develop representations that are either close to Cartesian geometry or alternately of Angular Geometry, it is reasonable to assume that the Time concept/ representation that such mice may develop would also follow the way they represent space.

Of particular interest to us is the metaphorical representation of time for those mice who have developed the concepts of Space as being in r, theta format of angular geometry (some critics may thrash this as regressing back to heliocentric view of the universe with Sun denoting the origin/ centre of universe.....but the representation of time is more Anthropomorphic or Ratothromorphic view, with the origin conceptualized as not the rat or human himself but something close by (preferably a light source) that can be used as reference) and would thus naturally map time to one of the dimensions in r, theta, this case view time as circular or repetitive or in rhythm. An article that traces internal clock mechanisms like circadian rhythms may be instructive.

Thus, considering the numerous mythical elements in Indian Culture regarding the circular nature of time ( reincarnation, repetitive Eng or ages, no distinction between word 'kal' representing either today or tomorrow based on context), i is reasonable to assume that it is possible that some humans/ cultures may have a circular, or at the least, rhythmic representation of time.

Thus while Amyara present a paradox in terms of viewing time backwards, the oriental cultures (esp. Indian) may represent another paradox in terms of viewing time circular or rhythmic. Also to venture into area that I'm ignorant of, this may explain the popularity of films like the ground hog day, explain deja vus and when eventually we would be able to 'see' the 4D time-space continuum, may require utilization of both 3-D Cartesian space representations and the angular (or curvature) time perception.

Also, while we are at the topic of time perception, please check this excellent article summing up the major approaches in studying time perception phenomenon.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Maya and the year 2012: transforming the world we live in by our small everyday acts

Read a recent article regarding the transformation of world prophecies related to Mayan calendar. On a first glance the Mayan calendar seems reasonable and insightful as per this other article which is much more informative and credible. The conclusion that can be drawn is that with the end of Mayan calendar, our perception of world may change dramatically; but it wont be on a very accurate date, nor a sudden leap. The transformations have to start from now.

What I find intriguing is that the word Maya is also used a lot in Indian folklore and mythology and is referenced with the 'illusory reality' that we feel and behind which lies the true reality.

Intriguing parallel and would appreciate comments form others regarding whether Cognition would reach to such an extent by 2012 that we could see an altered "Reality" (today is World Drugs this reality has to be real and not hallucinatory)

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Zen and the art of rapid change management

This is an article I finished recently comparing management of changes with Rafting experience. Tagged under Management, general and Rafting tags and not related to main theme of this blog which is psychological in nature:-)


I had gone some 2 yrs back on a maiden River rafting expedition and while I was reminiscing about that trip recently I came to realize how that experience had some valuable learning that could be applied to Management especially most relevant to management regarding rapid changes.

Co-ordination and teamwork: For starters, rafting demands harmonious and synchronus coordination between all rafters ensuring that all rowing movements by individuals are in perfect synchrony to the one in front and the one behind so as to enable the raft to make maximum possible movement and in the required direction. This much is apparent and trivial.

Unknowns and unpredictable: Then there are the current/wave directions and strengths that have to be dealt with and these are obviously unpredictable and uncontrollable. These are not unknowns also, as they can be discerned some time well in advance by an acute observer so as to adapt the rowing strategy accordingly.

Different stratagem's based on changing priorities/external realities: There are different possible rowing actions and strokes and the guide who is watching the river current/waves keeps instructing the rowers to change movements on the drop of a hat, taking into account the way the wind/water is currently drifting and determining what actions would best ensure movement in the right direction.... and this is all very short term planning and maneuvering. The guide does not bother with very long term foresight into what the current/weather will be 5 hrs down the line. For taking into account unknowns that were not apparent, he would rather rely on advise of weather department and not take an expedition on the day bad weather conditions are forecasted. The guide himself actively uses an instrument situated at the back of the boat to keep steering and doing course corrections.

Apparently discordant behaviors in time and space: Not always everyone is rowing in the forward direction only. Sometimes the people in front and those in back have different instructions and rowing movements. Sometimes people on the left and those on the right have different instructions. Sometimes people on the right are REQUIRED to STOP rowing and rest and ensuring that only left rowers row, to ensure correct behavior and direction. Not all rowers need to understand why they are required to make the required actions on a particular time for ex just revering their rowing direction whereby one moment they were rowing forward and now they are rowing backwards,, but with experience they start getting insights that if they do follow the directions religiously they are better off keeping on track towards destination despite apparent short time backtracks or seemingly impossible currents which they though could not be navigated.

RAPIDS or Toppling Points: The most feared (by some) and awaited (by others) are the moments when the boat needs to navigate past the RAPIDS or areas in the river bed where there is a sudden change in river-bed depth, leading to turbulent local currents on the surface. These are avoided if possible, warned beforehand to all rowers, closely watched by the guide, forewarned to everybody that everyone needs to navigate with all their strengths during and prior to the Rapid crossing and special Tips given to each to ensure that neither the boat topples nor individuals are thrown off-board.

The Rapid Dynamics: In Rapids, though all who are rowing need to row with all their strengths, yet it is not the classical case of 'all hands on the board'. The guide himself keeps watching, getting ready for action in case the boat topples to ensure that boat bumps back up, that all the oars that are needed for rowing further downstream are intact and not lost by the individual rowers to the water and above all to ensure that everyone (though they have life jackets strapped) are brought back on the boat as soon as possible. Also, most importantly, some people who are normally involved in rowing are asked to stop rowing, move to the front of the row and are required to strategically position themselves in the front of the boat, leaning towards the most forward point in the boat and putting their weight in the front, so as to reduce the impact of the onslaught of wave. These should ideally be people who have most weight.

The Thrill of Toppling : The most amazing insight was the revelation that some of the people most knowledgeable about water and rafting, good swimmers and experienced rafters, were also the ones who would most often 'engineer' the topples while navigating the rapids. Just like there are well known ways to avid the boat from toppling in the rapids, there are equally well known counter actions to engineer the topple. One straightforward, and apparent by now, way is to ensure that few like minded people lean backwards at the time of RAPID concentrating weight towards the back. No problems with that, one does get a different experience while the boat is turned upside down and one is floating by ones own in the water, and these people being good swimmers and all, would also be the ones who would put the boat back, et fellows on board and get a kick out of it in all ways: the thrill of topple and the subsequent opportunity to play the savior.

The Perils of Toppling
: Some people who have been exposed to that 'drowning' experience for the first time, though realistically there was no real danger with life jackets strapped, are left shaken with that experience. For them those 2-3 minutes in water, with water churning at great speed, chaos all around them with all team members floating by themselves, the boat and their guide himself in water turned upside down, some of them not knowing how to swim or even to keep afloat the water correctly with life jackets, with taste of water in mouth, over eyes and nostrils, those 2-3 minutes are very real to them and represent a reality that is not apparent to the more seasoned rafters/ swimmers. The guide of course is normally aware of this and so he avoids topples at all costs, but the more adventurous experts amongst the crew somehow never realize the repercussions or effects they may have on others. Some of those shaken by the experience react extremely with not going on a rafting trip again ( I am not one of them:-)...though unfortunately I have not managed to go on another rafting trip after any case my raft had toppled but it was a genuine was 2 of the other rafts which had the 'engineered' toppling.), others are just shaken to the extent that they dread the RAPIDS much more than is needed, while still others are barely affected and even enjoy the thrill- the most effect on them being some time sitting ideally recovering from panting and all, and getting back to rowing again.

Toppling: The Damage Control: The guide 'inoculates' the rafters (non-swimmers esp) against the bad version of toppling experience by encouraging them to float in water by themselves while the waters are calm. this ensures that they are exposed to the 'real bad world' and the exposure is under conditions that are not threatening. This also gives the guide time and occasion to instruct and observe whether the rafters know the correct way to stay afloat using their life jackets. More than anything else it ensures that the rafters are not nervous, but more towards being confident, when they face the rapid, or are actually thrown into the water. Also, early warning and special maneuvering, as well as very clear communication on severity of the rapid that is coming, the realistic assessment of toppling chance, and the assurance of rapid recovery ensure that not only the toppling probabilities are minimized, but the toppling experience is of a different degree.

Celebration/Relaxation/ Dangers of Rapids all the way: When the waters are calm one can relax and sing and have fun (you are supposed to have fun all the way) , when the current is strong it is not expected that you still keep rowing with all your strength, it is ensured that not many rapids follow each other on a particular course and there is ample scope for the team to recover its strength, stamina and composure before being asked to face another rapid. All said and done, rowing is an activity that demands immense physical activity from each team member- one needs hard work all the way ---especially in rapids- and one also has to ensure that the hard work is done in a smart way (is inline with the directions of the guide). There is no simple trade off here between hard work and smart work. Hard work needs to be done smartly. If after exposing a rafting team to a volley of rapids that is never ending, and observing that the boat has toppled on 1 or 2 occasions, we conclude that rafters are either not working hardly or smartly enough and need to change strategy (may do more smart work than hard work) (or on a different note conclude that guide is incompetent, having a whale of time and maybe instead of doing the 'overhead work' needs to ensure that all rafters including himself and the 'weighty' ones are all the time exclusively involved in rowing- and rowing hard) and if we wonder why the rafters are finding the rafting experience not exactly enjoyable and not too keen on signing in for the next expedition or why the toppling is becoming more and more probable with time, then maybe we are missing something that should be apparent.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cognitive Map continued :The importance of color and other irrelevant facts as to my journey towards color vision

There is an article on EurekaAlert regarding the necessity of colors for identifying say members of your favorite football teams when engaged in a match with an adversary team. The contiguity provided by colors of uniforms worn by players ensures we are able to keep track of which member belongs to which team. As per the article in the absence of colors , we cannot track more than 3 objects at the same time.

The application of this to the cognitive map is evident. In the absence of colors, we may view the world in Black, White and Gray and would be forced to make arbitrary decisions of clubbing everything in one category or the other. This will limit us to make sense of the world in TriColor (if color can be used in this B&W context) (say of satve, rajas and Tamas gunas) by joining some isolated regions together to bi-or-trifurcate the world in some 2 or 3 arbitrary qualities/regions. Thus the world as located on our cognitive map would be made up of 2 or 3 qualia and different colors used to represent different but interconnected and hence same regions. One is reminded of the shloka from Gita " tri-state is all of creation, be non-tri-state O Arjun"

With even 3(RGB) or 4 (CYMK) or 6 colors (??) at our disposal (and in the language of cognitive maps the 'colors' may be equivalent to the 'emotions' and thus reflect how we feel about that part (region) of the Map), we can have infinite combinations of colors to code the Map and thus either have a kaleidoscopic view of the world (in which there are more colors then can fit our working memory (limited by size constraints of 6 +-2 ); or we can stick to the 4 or 6 colors that are primary and see all the different regions of the cognitive map having the same color(out of the 4 or 6 primary colors) as one particular quality /qualia of the world. Thus all the red regions on our cognitive map may signify all the parts of our life (time-space event) that are felt by us as colored Red or arousing angry feelings (If Red is associated with Anger. Here is a link to V S Ramchnadran's site that carries many research on synesthasia, though association of color with emotions is not discussed.)

Thus with the correct color coding (either MCYN or yet to be discovered 6 primary color schema....And that color mapped to 'color' as applicable in cognitive Maps) and the correct cognitive MAP nature ( a Rotating Sphere or a klien bottle ) with some other type of 'spin' one may be better adapted to understand reality and act accordingly knowing which parts of Cognitive map are more or less the same and which Cognitive Map is to be used for which season.

The article contains a quote from the original article viz

. "We found that humans are unable to store information from more than three sets at once," Halberda said. "This places an important constraint on how humans think about and interact with sets in the world."

As per this quote even when we have extended sets (say many regions on an Atlas covered in Cyan only- and thus forming one set), we can keep in memory no greater than 3 such sets. Thus we may be able to keep Cyan sets, Magneta sets and Yellow sets in the cognitive Map, but would miss on the Key (or Black set). This seems to be a limitation that has been observed experimentally and needs some thinking. Maybe later experiments (say done on Tibetan Lamas) could verify that more than 3- maybe upto 6 sets can be distinguished.

Before venturing forth and elaborating more on the Cognitive Map theme, I would like to backtrack a bit and again indicate from where I come: I believe that the personality traits from the Five-Factor Model can be mapped to successful or unsuccessful completion of the 5 development tasks that a child need to undergo before becoming an adult (or has an ego, or becomes a hero with a thousand faces!). After the first five developmental task are the 3 qualitatively different tasks that require him/her to reach out to others and thus develop traits that would not be captured by factor analysis that has as its reference an individual; but might possibly be revealed when one talks (or does a factor analysis) about say a pair. Are the pair intimate? are they a case of 'sleeping with the enemy"? are they sacrificial etc? Broadly the first task and Factor would have to be intimacy and sharing and has to be attained not by an individual but by the pair. Intimacy with married partner may be one task that literally expands your horizons or lets you see issues from both sides of the coin, or with different spins applied to it!

The second (or sixth if the first 5 are also counted) task is related to group performance and solidarity. One could be instrumental and active in competitive groups, co-operating groups, creative/synergetic groups, or even destructive groups. How group dynamism is achieved, how synergy is created, how one submits one's freedom to the greater good , how one starts understanding when to be competitive, when co-operative and when to go with the flow ( and when to stand up against the tide), all these would be tasks that need to be completed before achieving the feeling of efficacy.

The third (or last or eighth ) task would be to broaden your group identity and start extending it to others - say to whole of live creation. The end result of this would be peaceful death or passage to next life with no guilt feelings. Otherwise feeling of despair may occur instead of feelings of integrity with the world.

Much of the background for above is the ashtang yoga having 5 physical aspects - yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyaharare and after these 3 mental aspects - Dhyan, Dharna and Samadhi.

Also, the analogy with the traditional 4 varna-ashrams that one should observe: Brahmacharya (in which ego identity is achieved while learning- and five personality factors deepened and come to terms with: this has to be completed by 25th B'day and till that time pure celibacy maintained), then Grahastha (next 25 years of your life devoted to marriage so that pure intimacy and union could be achieved), then Vanprastha ( next 25 years of life spent wandering in the forests with like minded people and planting seeds in the form of upnishads etc), Sanyas (the last 25 years of age being at peace with the world and oneself, relaxing and not felling bitter about old age/ physical conditions etc, reflecting on life). Thus the theory predicts to 3 more traits or factors , but these would be applicable to pairs, groups and universe respectively.

On another note, much of insights I have got regarding the 6th and 7th developmental tasks is from studying vision and Eye. After an eye is formed, then one needs a pair for binocular/depth vision. This is the 6th developmental task for eye (to pair up with another). after that one could have different movements of eye leading to different visual capacity: Smooth pursuit (involuntary), Saccadic (voluntary) and Nystagmus (sort of involuntary rhythmic movement).

Another parallel is formed in the physical motion subsystem with 6th step being the contraction and relaxation of muscle to produce desired motion and 7th step being differentiated muscle groups to serve different functions: Smooth muscles (involuntary for ex in stomach), striated/skeleton (voluntary used for locomotion) and cardiac (involuntary rhythmic with some randomness thrown in in the form of pacemaker cells).

Thus, to me the 6th stage of development/evolution normally corresponds to pairing with similar type (but different in some aspect) and then utilizing the pairing to achieve something qualitatively different. The 7th evolution/development stage is normally related either 'colors or 'movements' or 'group dynamics' and again leads to new qualities and abilities. Finally the 8th stage is delegating control to someone higher up (say Eye delegating control to brain...Except for some control still retained over the Nystagmus or the muscles of entire body delegating control to brain (CNS) except for some pacemaker cells in the heart.

Pointers to other who would like to build:
1) start thinking about 5 'normal' senses and then the other neglected senses like vestibular, kinesthetic etc.
2) revisit Howard Gardner's 8 intelligences or EQ's
3)revisit quarks their properties and dynamics etc

Why the number 8?

reason is Maths: Fibonacci series. Evolution works by building on what is. So assuming initially we have 1, the series of evolution, development becomes 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on.

Assuming somehow that one unit of something gets created. Then any complex system can be theoretically reduced to that one unit. Next come dualist system who can differentiate between the qualities that came into existence when a pair was formed. After that 2+1 units merge to form a new unit with 3 qualities. After that 5 qualities are possible, then eight is possible and then 13 or 21 is possible. I'll stop here because the Tarot that I used to decipher the Fibonacci (and DA vinci code) has only 21 cards in Major Arcana if one discount the 0 card representing the fool). More about that in later mail. (Some caution, I don't much believe in Tarot etc, but believe in the archetypal strength of such concepts as they have stood test of time).

So we in 21st century may start with 0 or may move further to 45

Another teaser: Tolman in his other article hints behavior-cues, behavior-object and behavior act as the next 3 steps in his behavioristic cognitive map theory. This makes for the eight fold development stage complete. Interestingly he continues beyond that on problems of Motive and hints at the next 5 spiritual/mental qualities that may be involved " Finally, the problem of the relation of behavior-act to behavior-object is the extremely important problem of motive. It is the problem of desire, emotion, instinct, habit, determining set." .

also we should always remember that world and reality is more like Mandelbrot set and each components of one puzzle may end up making an equivalent puzzle to us.

Endgame: is it top down or bottom up: what about say hands (2 of which would come together on 6th stage, and which would individually contain 5 fingers/thumb specialists for different tasks- the result of earlier 5 developmental/evolutionary tasks; what about the seventh task? Also can we just like analyzing from bottom down, start with universe and come down to quantum equations and come to closer approximations in terms of determining sets etc that Tolman was hinting in his other article.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Cognitive Map continued: Its nature and implications: Is my Map different from Yours?

Would like to elaborate a bit more on the theme of the Cognitive Map especially as applicable to Humans and focusing more on the last 3 learning mechanisms relevant to ensuring that your Map reflects Reality as well as possible and is in accordance with the Reality Principle instead of some other principle (like the Pleasure Principle if it exists!)

In the forthcoming discussion, when I'll refer to Map, I would start with assuming it to refer to a literal spatial map as outlined on a sphere. ( say a globe representing earth in which all the countries are mapped). The Map is thus 2 dimensional in nature, though outlawed on a 3-D object (Sphere or Oval of the earth shape)

6) Which Map to use for Which Season ( Regression as a pathology?) :

The assumption is that successive Cognitive Maps are placed on a sphere and the globe keeps rotating ensuring that we have the arrest cognitive Map in front of us. If one doesn't stick to the globe analogy, one can also see the Cognitive Maps as being placed on a tape and when rewinded, they may appear as a movie.

A number of earlier Cognitive Maps not relevant to today's' experiment are still with Mice as they had earlier learned or internalized those Maps: Once the Mice or men have formed a Cognitive Map reflecting say the actual spatial location and 2-D nature of the table surface and objects that was used in mice experiments and are able to understand the concepts of either R, theta angular geometry or X,Y Cartesian Geometry , then it may happen that over time they realize that different experiment situation require them to use different cognitive maps (say in one situation they would be required to use the cognitive map using angular geometry concepts and then in other X,Y geometry concepts, then they may come to a logical conclusion that at times it is necessary to use earlier Cognitive Maps that were relevant in some earlier situation and may Regress to an earlier Map when their current Map (more in touch with Reality) does not help in the latest experimental setup. This is the first of the Many problems that they have to overcome before ensuring that they can use a broadly consistent Cognitive Map and become immune from the problem of regression. Imagine a Mice, who has just formed a spatial cognitive Map that has given him insight as to the nature of 2-D space and the location of food object/light in it. Imagine suddenly that he finds that these concepts although valid across many previous situations are no longer valid in the present situation, but force him to change his cognitive map. Then the Rat in an attempt to use an appropriate cognitive Map may start using an earlier map (may regress)

Another Analogy is that of Spinning. You might store your Map in a right-spinning globe, while another rat may overlay the cognitive Map on a left-spinning globe. Thus though the maps are identical, but due to different spins the subjective perception may be different. This may be analogous to the fact that though most groups (tribes/clans) of humans have past in back and future in front, some tribes (eg.. Aymara) actually have past in front and future in back. A word of caution though, here too the past and future are so to say linearly spoken of. In Indian languages, the word for day-after as for day-before is same and may suggest a spherical or repetitive nature of Cognitive Maps/ Reality.

Thus, even when your Map is Correct, it is not a single Map but one that is overlaid on a sphere and thus needs to be revolved in a particular direction to update with most accurate cognitive Map. Even when you have done this, if you don't want to regress, you may have to take help of another mice to 'see the map from a different angle'/ Assuming that you pair with a mice of different spin orientation, you would then be able to is any Map for any situation. Interesting to note that recent experiments have revealed that people take help of their spouses in storing memories. This may also explain why loss of spouse may be the most triggering factor for regression.

7) How many Colors do you need to paint your Map (which color is your umbrella):

After the Cognitive Maps have been developed and the trick of spinning there globe in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction to get an appropriate Cognitive Map is learned, the difficult question of how to distinguish the cognitive Map appropriate for the situation arises. Before deciding appropriateness, one must first face the problem of how to distinguish the different Maps. (Here I take Map as referring to a contiguous region on a globe- like a country). The answer is simple; a -priori- we need four colors as per four-color theorem. This would be true if the cognitive Maps were indeed mapped on a sphere. In this case one can use CMYK system as used in color printers (a subtractive system). We want pure colors for Mapping- we do not want to mix colors as that may lead to confusion as to us remembering a lot of different colors due to different shaded maps.) Also by using these 4 colors we can still print on our mental map the different shades of all hues. Thus this can give us an opportunity for identifying regions/Maps in 'pure' colors as well as identifying regions/Maps in their 'actual/mixed' colors. Point to note that in CMYK, the K stands for Key which is usually represented by Black ink. Thus, in CMYK system some regions would be marked as black.

Some notes though:- There are other strong contenders for how we may color our maps.

1. One is the HSV model, whereby one would assign a different Hue to every region(and this is done in terms of an angle), and a saturation (how 'pure' and non-grey is the color) and a brightness (how bright or high energy the region/map is). This model would be learned most easily by this rats who learned the R.Theta angular geometry. HSL is also similar.

2. The second is RGB model. Here every region is given a Cartesian co-ordinate corresponding to R, G and B values which start form 0 at origin and move towards infinity as we move away from origin.

3. The third is YUV model. Hereby there is one luminance components (Y) and 2 chromonence componenets (u,v). The primary advantage of this model is that it is compatible with black and white (or grayish) view and coloring of Maps. Thus with this system, one can choose to see the Maps in color or in grey at whim!

Before closing on the color theory of maps, would like to throw one more gauntlet. It seems a Klien bottle (which is a surface that has no inside and outside ( and in this respect is similar to mobius strip) is the only surface that does not follow a rule in mathematic for calculating the number of colors needed to paint regions on that surface. The klien bottle requires 6 colors . My personal view is that our reality as well as the cognitive Maps we make follow more the Kline bottle surface and hence would need 6 colors to fully color them. These may be 6 colors or 6 factors related to color/luminance etc). I am pursuing thus path because of analogous 6 types of flavors in quarks (up,bottom, top, strange, charm, down). Also the previous discussion of spins is partly influenced by the isospin of quarks.

A dysfunctional (or incorrectly colored cognitive map) map would lead to problems like fixation. If the map is painted all Red and no other colors are used(and if red is associated with anger in that person's internal language), then we have a case whereby the person who uses excessive red in his map is fixating his energy on anger (or a previous map that was excessively red)

Parting note on this: the colored cognitive map theory may explain the charm of Picasso or stained glass windows.

8) Who shares your map and who doesn't :

Ultimately, when a mice or (wo)man acts, it has to determine not only what cognitive map is relevant for the situation, but also who else would share that cognitive map . This info is necessary irrespective of whether the motive is to compete or co-operate. Slowly over the different experiments the mice learn that not only they themselves know a bit about the maze, but that other mice (as well as the experimenter :-) ) knows about the Maze. In such insight situations, if the mice feels frustrated it may either seek help from conspecifics or direct his anger towards non-conspecifics (like the experimenter). Thus, after this last set of experiments he may start co-operating and sharing his Cognitive Map with others or retreat and exhibit "displacement of aggression". This would work even in case of husband-wife agression displacement, if the spouse does not understand the map of the other.

An instructive way of looking at these Cognitive Maps an be form the other end of the spectrum (i.e instead of analogies with quarks/particles look at the analogies with light/waves) . tolman seems to have taken a similar approach in his another landmark article. Here he discusses behavior tendencies, behavior acts et and they seem more like quantum Fields and collapse of the quantum wave. More on that in a later post.

For now a parting link to a recent article that grants more intelligence to mice than was customary till now.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

The Cognitive Map : How Mice and Men learn when in the Mouse Trap

As a continuation of the Mouse Trap theme, would like to share links to a very insightful paper in Psychology that had marked a departure from behavioral to cognitive explanations and provided a very relevant concept of Cognitive Maps. This original article by Tolman is a delightful and easy read, though some background in classical behaviorist theories of Instrumental and Operant Conditioning would help. What delights is that Tolman uses and explains these concepts without the associated jargon.

I find the 5 different cognitive modes of learning, he identifies, quite instructive and intriguing:

1) Latent Learning (the mice are not blind, though they may act as such if not motivated enough to have eyes:-): They learn the maze, though if not rewarded they may not exhibit that learning in their behavior. This type of learning helps to clarify the difference between learning something and behavior in-line with that learning; and it is clear that the appropriate behavior is mediated by motivation. Learning happens automatically, irrespective of mediation by goal-directed or reward-presence, maybe subconscious in nature, and in the form of a Cognitive Map that is formed latently; but if no incentives are there to make use of the Cognitive Map then that learning is not reflected in the behavior. In the presence of motivation, learning may become conscious and manifest in behavior.

2) Vicarious Trial and Error Learning (The million dollar question in the Matrix: Which door leads to the Source:-) and the billion dollar question superseding that : which door would Neo choose? :-): This learning behavior that Mice exhibit on a decision or choice point should not have been called Vicarious Trial and Error Learning. The name somehow misses the point. I also do not agree with the explanations. My own two cents: the mice 'choose' between the options presented on a choice point and this VTE is just an observable external behavior reflecting their internal dilemma : whether to choose food or to choose the locked door and fool the Experimenter:-) As mentioned in the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, it may end up that mice were experimenting on us all the way! On a more serious note, if we do assume that there may be reasons for mice to choose non-food at some times, lets say when it is satiated and does not really need food but prefers the thrill of bungee jumping back to the start point, then it makes sense that VTE would be observed more in conditions in which the Mice is able to differentiate easily between the options and thus use discretion /discrimination. These are the easy learning situations of the contrasting Black and White doors. For the dark grey and Black doors situation, the learning task is more difficult and so when the Mice doesn't really know which door would lead to food and which to non-food, there is little point in deliberation and he may as well choose any door (or rather the choice he makes may be factually incorrect, so he need not hesitate to choose deliberately - he may as well choose randomly - as he doesn't really have that much control ). Only when choice is real- that is he knows that he has sufficient information to make an informed choice, would there be observed deliberation and choice and associated VTE. Interestingly VTE starts increasing in difficult tasks too, as learning starts to happen and choice become real. An intriguing observation is that the stupid mice do more VTEing in mazes than intelligent ones: are they the really intelligent mice who are acting just stupid and experimenting on Humans?

3. Searching for Stimulus (Who let the dogs out? ): This seems related to the fact that mice would actually indulge in some behavior (in this case looking around their cage for the preponderant stimuli) that is directed towards identifying the salient features of the environment that are associated with their immediate prior experience. They are interested in finding the cause of the effects that they have just witnessed. This interactivity/connectionless view is limited as the experiments focused mostly on avoidance learning and new insights may be available from the similar behavior observed during escape/approach learning if that too exhibits the learning style typical to this avoidance learning : viz searching for stimulus that can be associated with the experience post facto. Interesting to note that when the stimuli following the responses are random, then as the mice's 'search for stimulus' throws an exception, the mice acquires 'learned helplessness' whereby it stops monitoring/analyzing its environment. Thi sis presumed to be the mechanism behind clinical depression in humans.

4. The 'Hypothesis' experiments (the search for patterns/ pattern recognition : to look for the most apt Cognitive Map relevant to this situation): As per this type of learning the mice presumes or forms a hypothesis of what the desired sequence of steps leading to correct outcome should be, actively indulges in systematic exploration to verify the hypothesis and gives up and tries another hypothesis if the results are not favorable. This is the classical 'scientific method' and it is amazing that the mice use that! It is limited in the sense that the experiment is restricted to approach learning. Interesting to note that this type of learning presupposes the existence of 'concepts' like left, right, light and dark in the mice and presupposes an ability to sequence these in temporal fashion and act accordingly.

5. 'Spatial Orientation' learning (Let there be light!): This particular dimension of learning was the most instrumental in Tolman coming up with the Cognitive Map concept. In this, the mice while exploring the maze and learning the sequence of steps that lead to the food box (or goal, which significantly is paired with light in this case), also apparently learnt the precise spatial location of the food box, so that if the maze was replaced by a radiating spokes of alleys, then after some exploration of each alley, the Mice would finally 'choose' one of the alleys and run all the way down the alley (without looking back till it escapes from the alley to find wither the food box or the alley ends into an opening ) and in one particular experimental setup when no other intervening variables were present, the alley that was chosen was significantly related to the presence of food box (light source). Few points to note: Light (or an adequate point of reference like the Sun), seems essential is this sort of learning, maybe the different light/shadow interactions/ intensities are integrally required to from concepts of location. Also, in the first experiment only one light source ( and possibly diffractions effects maybe relevant, while in the second there are 2 sources of light - leaving scope for things like interferences effects to have been instrumental in the learning process. Haven't yet figured out an explanation for the behavior exhibited in the second experiment, but one thing is evident - the presence of a third light (L3 labeled in the diagram) , would have indicated to the mice, that their starting positions and orientations have been changed, and thus they focused on the right direction (left and right ...And thus perpendicular to the walls of the room/table) but missed out on the location. Interestingly this second experiment too exhibits 'escape' behavior, whereby once a mice has chosen an alley, it goes all the way down that alley. I would sum this up mostly as Insight learning regarding the 2-dimensional nature of table-space, wherein the mice learn the 2-dimensional spatial location of an object (food box) and either use the r, theta co-ordinates (angular geometry) to guess its location and behave accordingly, or use the other 'Cartesian' X,Y co-ordinate system to guess the location of the object and take an alley which is perpendicular to the walls of the table (which serve as reference co-ordinates) in its search of the object. In both cases, if my hypothesis is correct, the Rats should ideally not go all along the way down the alley chosen and exhibit the strong escape behavior; but in Radius, theta case should stop/ hesitate when the radius they have covered is sufficiently greater than the actual radial distance; and in the X,Y case, should stop/ hesitate and look for a turn when the reasonable X, or Y distance has been covered, and if the alley does have a perpendicular turn / choice point after some time, than they should turn in the right direction of where the food is located). Interesting hypothesis, but I am afraid I cannot verify these. Isf someone can conducts these experiments for me and inform me of outcome I will be really grateful. In any case, in the present circumstances, this learning mechanism seems to mostly mediate escape behaviors and that too in the presence of light source and is restricted to learning about spatial locations and the nature of Space (2- D for rats)

Interestingly in another article on the web in TIP , these mechanisms are represented in the reverse order and that too with one important transposition wherein the order of Escape and Approach is reversed. : 1) approach 2) escape, 3) avoidance 4) choice point and 5) latent. This is described under 'sign learning' and I find that fascinating as I am currently hooked to things like Da Vince Code ( haven't read the book or movie, jut documentaries on the same) or tarot and looking for subtle signs that would help in uncracking the code/ breaking the matrix. A tidbit from this page that I find intriguing is that Tolman was also investigating motivation for war.

Resuming discussion on the original article, it also mentions 3 mechanism related to Cognitive Maps that are observable in Humans ( I presume this is over and above the 5 Learning mechanism that are definitely present in both Mice and Men). These, of a different dimension, are briefly mentioned below, but seem to be based on Freudian defense mechanism and are generally speaking unhealthy (defense) mechanism that we may use by referring to Cognitive Maps that are not in touch with reality ( and the learning and behavior instead of being based on Reality principle are based on Pleasure principal). These are summarized below (though haven't though about them in details and will follow up in a later mail with more elaborations) and this sort of learning ideally needs to be unlearned in order for effective behavior.

6) Regression : Reverting back to earlier learned cognitive maps that are no more relevant in the present situations when dealing with things like emotional loss ( the exact example given is of a loss of spouse...And this concrete example may have much to do with the situations in which this 'learning' becomes relevant)

7) Fixation : Using one particular Cognitive Map in all situations as it may have served well in one particular situation in which it was associated with high reward/ motivation.

8) Displacement of aggression onto outgroup : This, on first look, appears to be the classical displacement (of anger) that is touted as a defense mechanism when a man that returns home angry on the boss, shouts on his wife; but this is made contingent to the fact that aggression is directed on outgroup and is thus qualitatively different. This assumes concepts like group and belonging to group as well as ability to differentiate and discriminate between group and outgroup. It also involves deliberate hate ( and not just prejudice of the outgroup) towards the outgroup, who is made a willing target of aggression in case of frustrations within the group.

All the above 3 negative learned mechanisms Tolman maintains is a result of narrow cognitive Maps. The article ends on a very philosophical note!!

Before concluding, I would just like to briefly summarize my position on the experiments done in the mouse traps:-). I believe the correct order ( an this does matter in the theory I am trying to build up) should be

1) Latent 2) Choice point 3) Avoidance 4) Escape and 5) Approach

6) regression 7) fixation 8) Displacement to outgroup

the only difference I propose in ordering is that 4) Escape (learning related to Space) comes before 5) Learning related to time ( sequence of steps / patterns in time that lead to correct outcome)

Also, to briefly give you an idea from where I come from

I believe in the eight stage developmental theory of Erikson with the 5th step of ego formation being a definitive step in development of self, whereby the adolescent tries many roles in different situations, and achieves ego integrity (or finds the role that he is supposed to play) on successful completion of this step. The rest 3 development tasks of Intimacy, efficacy and Integrity are of qualitatively different nature that the preceding five tasks. Of course I don't take the Freudian background or explanations of these stages/ tasks but am more into the cognitive developmental theories fir eg of Piaget.

Do comment and let us rock!!

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