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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