Quantitative Psychological Theory and Musings

Friday, April 16, 2010

Horrible Reporting

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Here is a nice, quick post I can offer.  It's in reference to a report that appeared last month in Science Daily.  The report tries to make novelty out of a conclusion that deliberate and unconscious memory retrieval are facilitated by different pathways in the brain.  Well, how could it be otherwise?

The report goes on to claim that the processes involved in unconsciously retrieving memories and likewise forgetting them are mysteries.  This is simply untrue, except for purely neurophysiological mechanisms, though many of these are known too.  To quote here:

Science still does not fully understand why our brain sometimes automatically supplies us with a memory that we have done nothing to deliberately call to mind, whereas why, on other occasions, we cannot remember things even though we make efforts to recall them.

There are several memory systems in the brain, but the two major ones are the explicit and implicit.  The former is responsible for conscious, deliberate recall and the latter for unconscious recall.  The explicit allows attempts to connect with previously stored predictive contexts for sought (net rewarding)memories.  This is facilitated by the elicitation of incomplete predictive contexts, triggered consciously and unconscously.  There are no memories without contexts, so explicit memories require these partial predictive contexts and then use associational methods, including those involving metacognition, to try to connect with the more complete contexts.  The explicit system is involved to the degree that a context is new, so there is incomplete generalization.  Thus, this process only works some of the time. 

The implicit system involves well-learned habits that require little awareness.  Examples include motor learning, but can occur with any type of behavior strongly generalized across predictive contexts.

Even considering the normally awful media reporting of scientific work, this example stands out.  And this is worse for a publication that solely reports on science.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Posts in Progress

I apologize for going nearly a week-and-a-half without a post, but I've been very busy and working on some posts that are taking longer than anticipated.

For example, I'm considering whether antisocial behavior(sociopathic) can result from extreme depression, and how to formalize such a relationship.

I am also considering cases in which general intelligence, defined as relatively high stimulus processing rates, can make for less intelligent decisions.

Another post in progress is one on the attractiveness of older women to younger men.

And, there is consideration of the reason bullying occurs among children.

So, please have patience as I try to put as much quality into my posts as possible.

Yes, maybe I'm spreading my attention too thin by simultaneously working on so many posts, but I've been shifting toward topics that I've incorrectly thought would take less time to complete.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Artificial Emotions

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This article in New Scientist has me thinking about how to endow artificially intelligent machines with emotions.  This shouldn't be a hard task.

Referring to a previous post on mood, as well as one on emotions, a computerized machine can be fitted with sensors to facilitate machine learning, with unconditioned and conditioned stimuli as incentives.  Reward would be determined by the required rate intake of resources, and the net intake of resources deemed available.  Resources can include energy, and even social approval.  In the latter case, machines can detect facial features and be programmed to associate them with social signals, such as those revealed by facial expressions, for example.  The sum of all available  resources can be operationalized as mood.

The machine is then capable of attaching values to various stimuli and now emotions can be added.  Anger, for example, can be programmed as an unexpected subjective loss.  But could machines feel?

I think emotional feelings in human beings serve as signals to the working memory in the prefrontal cortex, allowing for metacognitive differentiation.  That is, with regard to our thinking about our emotional reactions, it helps to be able to distinguish each emotional response from others.  Hence, there is no reason to think such differentiation cannot be programmed into artificial intellgence systems.