Monthly Archives: February 2005

links for 27th Feb 2005

Questions &Answers with Akira Tohei, 8th dan

From aikidoonline.com, an interview which includes

Then should sempai say nothing when practicing, only demonstrate?

Yes, a verbal explanation is not the best. There are times when it is necessary, but it should not be the first impulse. If you talk too much, you are not a teacher, not a sempai. Students mistakenly try to understand something with their heads rather than allowing their bodies to experience and learn it.

One aspect of practice is to help purify your heart. This is done by action, not by words. Helping others and cleaning the dojo is an integral part of this process.

Links for 24th of Feb 2005

what can functional neuroimaging tell the experimental psychologist

This perhaps of interest to those of us who worry about such things:

Henson, R. (2005). What can functional neuroimaging tell the experimental psychologist? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A(2), 193?233.

abstract
I argue here that functional neuroimaging data?which I restrict to the haemodynamic techniques of fMRI and PET?can inform psychological theorizing, provided one assumes a ?systematic? function?structure mapping in the brain. In this case, imaging data simply comprise another dependent variable, along with behavioural data, that can be used to test competing theories. In particular, I distinguish two types of inference: function-to-structure deduction and structure-to-function induction. With the former inference, a qualitatively different pattern of activity over the brain under two experimental conditions implies at least one different function associated with changes in the independent variable. With the second type of inference, activity of the same brain region(s) under two conditions implies a common function, possibly not predicted a priori. I illustrate these inferences with imaging studies of recognition memory, short-term memory, and repetition priming. I then consider in greater detail what is meant by a ?systematic? function?structure mapping and argue that, particularly for structure-tofunction induction, this entails a one-to-one mapping between functional and structural units, although the structural unit may be a network of interacting regions and care must be taken over the appropriate level of functional/structural abstraction. Nonetheless, the assumption of a systematic function?structure mapping is a ?working hypothesis? that, in common with other scientific fields, cannot be proved on independent grounds and is probably best evaluated by the success of the enterprise as a whole. I also consider statistical issues such as the definition of a qualitative difference and methodological issues such as the relationship between imaging and behavioural data. I finish by reviewing various objections to neuroimaging, including neophrenology, functionalism, and equipotentiality, and by observing some criticisms of current practice in the imaging literature.

In which this pleasing analogy is noted:

?the use of functional imaging to understand the brain? [is like] ?trying to understand how a car engine works, using only a thermal sensor on a geostationary satellite? (original source unknown; apologies for plagiarism)

Henson is not convinced. Or to put it another way, he is convinced of the utility of neuroimaging for psychologists. It’s an interesting, and almost conversational, read. I suspect that the ‘systemmatic function?structure mapping’ assumption is probably like the adaptationist position in evolutionary biology. You can’t prove it, you’re certain it must sometimes be wrong and misleading, but it does useful work for you so you might as well use it.

One ‘best-practice’ caveat the paper mentions about imaging is

…a minimal requirement for deducing the presence of a different function (F2) is an interaction in which one region shows a reliably greater change in activity across conditions than at least one other region.

Which, I think, is saying that if you have a notional function (which you hope is involved in your challenge task but not in your baseline task) then you do not demonstrate it (or localise it) by selecting a region which survived your SPM statistical tests of difference. You’ve just found a region which responds more in at least this one task. Henson (i think) is saying that you need to include region as an (independent) variable of analysis and show that there are tasks which increase activation in region A more than in region B, and vice versa.

We all got holes to fill

Townes Van Zandt said

We all got holes to fill,
And them holes are all that’s real,
Some fall on you like a storm, sometimes you dig your own.

She said: I wonder what it feels like to have holes falling on you?

He said: I think having holes fall on you feels just like nothing. It’s probably so much like nothing you want to scream but you can’t. Before it happens you think you’re afraid of nothing, but when Nothing happens to you, you realise you’re afraid of Nothing, and Nothing will eat out your heart and leave you alone in the dark with it.

Swarm intelligence

If this does everything it says on the tin [abstract] then it’s very exciting indeed. I shall put it here in lieu of actually having time to read it right now. If anyone does, let me know how it goes

Social Cognitive Maps, Swarm Perception and Distributed Search on Dynamic Landscapes, CVRM-IST 127E-2005 technical report, final draft submitted to Brains, Minds & Media, Journal of New Media in Neural and Cognitive Science, NRW, Germany, 2005.

http://alfa.ist.utl.pt/~cvrm/staff/vramos/Vramos-BMM.pdf

ABSTRACT: Swarm Intelligence (SI) is the property of a systems whereby the collective behaviors of (unsophisticated) entities interacting locally with their environment cause coherent functional global patterns to emerge. SI provides a basis with which it is possible to explore collective (or distributed) problem solving without centralized control or the provision of a global model. To tackle the formation of a coherent social collective intelligence from individual behaviors, we discuss several concepts related to self-organization, stigmergy and social foraging in animals. Then, in a more abstract level we suggest and stress the role played not only by the environmental media as a driving force for societal learning, as well as by positive and negative feedbacks produced by the many interactions among agents. Finally, presenting a simple model based on the above features, we will address the collective adaptation of a social community to a cultural (environmental, contextual) or media informational dynamical landscape, represented here – for the purpose of different experiments – by several three-dimensional mathematical functions that suddenly change over time. Results indicate that the collective intelligence is able to cope and quickly adapt to unforeseen situations even when over the same cooperative foraging period, the community is requested to deal with two different and contradictory purposes.

Dear Richard Caborn

Richard Caborn
MP for Sheffield Central
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Dear Richard Caborn,

I noticed that you haven’t signed EDM 515 concerning ‘Local services and facilities’. It is important to me that we support local communities and local business. Please let me know if you will be signing this bill, and if so when. If not, I’d be grateful to hear why.

You can get more information about EDM 515 at www.localworks.org. Essentially it is a statement in support of the Local Services and Facilities Bill which has been introduced by the honourable Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (a Lib Dem, but the bill has cross-party support) and which I’m obviously hoping you’ll support when the time comes (after the election I suppose). Here’s a bit about the bill, just for your information:

Where a government department or other public body intends to close a local office offering public services, or to end the provision of a service from an office the Bill says that they must assess the local community impacts (ethnic, environmental and social) of the proposed closure. They will then have to inform all those affected (parish and community councils, residents and community associations, businesses and trade union branches) and consider any representations made by them before taking the final decision about the closure.
Thus those bodies (and their members) gain the right to be given information; the right to make representations and the right to have them considered properly before the decision is taken. (3) gives those bodies real power to challenge assessments and ensure that reasonable steps are taken to ameliorate the adverse effects of closure on local communities. If the social or environmental affects are shown to be large (i.e. damaging to local communities), this would make it far more difficult for a government department or other public body to close the office or end a service without taking steps to protect local communities ? that is the legitimate relevance of this to this campaign: the protection of sustainable local communities.

Sustainable communities, protecting local enterprise, increased democratic power: I’ll be interested to hear what your position on the bill is.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Stafford
Sheffield, S7

Links for 18th of Feb 05

descriptions and explanations

We are so often drawn to describe the world, we are so comfortable with this, we enjoy good descriptions so much, that we can believe that we have explained things. Descriptions explain nothing. Descriptions are not understanding. Many descriptions can be true of the same thing. Explainations are exclusive. Many things might be true. Science is finding out what things definitely are and aren’t true.

Quote #85

Dear Toby
Jon told me this quote, and it made us think of you.
Tom

“Before you criticise someone first walk a mile in their shoes.”

“Then when you criticise them you will be a mile away. And have their
shoes…”

the drawing power of crowds

Milgram, Bickerman and Berkowitz (1969) found that if one person stood in a Manhattan street gazing at a sixth floor window, 20% of pedestrians looked up; if five people stood gazing 80% of people looked up

Ref:
Argyle, M., & Cook, M. (1976). Gaze and Mutual Gaze. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Milgram, Bickerman & Berkowitz (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13

Links for 9 February 2005

yikes! World Bank policy update

From The Bretton Woods Project

The latest World Bank publication on agricultural trade finds that a “development strategy based on agricultural commodity exports is likely to be impoverishing in the current policy environment”. How this finding will be reconciled with twenty-five years of policy advice and loan conditions to the contrary is unclear.

!!!