Thursday, February 28, 2008

empty thoughts III

3. Fiona Scott and Simon Baron-Cohen conclude that the deficit in autism is due to an impairment of psychological reasoning, as opposed to logical or analogical reasoning. This seems to suggest a deficit in “mindblindness,” not Gestalt perception, as addressed by the article. Because mindblindness is defined by Baron-Cohen in another article as an inability to be aware of what is in another person’s mind, it becomes a separate issue from Gestalt perception entirely. The logical and analogical tests demonstrated that autistic children can reason with representations of representations, and identify relation between relations, which suggests that their perceptive grouping is intact, which is clearly not the case. I don’t get it.

The authors say that their evidence shows the deficit to be due to m-representation; the inability to represent and agent’s attitude toward something. They do not speak of which of their results support this, but continue to say that autism is more likely due to the child’s inability to represent mental states...metarepresentation? What is this jump they are making to conclude that this is an impairment of psychological reasoning? It makes more sense to me that an inability to represent mental states would reflect a deficit in analogical reasoning.

I would have appreciated a more direct response to their three main hypotheses. Speculating the three intelligence paradigms of logical, analogical and psychological reasoning were a strong approach to the question of whether autistic children are impaired selectively in psychological and not in non-social tasks. However, I think the importance of their conclusions was missed, and their discussion generally lacking, and did not address the relation of their various tests to their hypotheses... Neither do they definitively support or object to Cosmides’ theory which is the title of their paper. It seems that since Scott and Baron-Cohen concluded that social intelligence has evolved separately from non-social intelligence, they would discuss Cosmides’ theory that intelligence evolved to solve social problems.

so basically, my disappointment reflects that which I typically hold toward psychology papers... pity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

empty thoughts II

2. “The ability to categorize is what makes it possible to use previous experience to guide the interpretation of new experience, for without categorization, memory is virtually useless” (Jackendoff 1987).

What kind of function would memory have if it were not categorized? Would memory be retrievable, and in what form? There must be some evolutionary reason to have uncategorized memory, because before memory could become associative, it makes sense that it would have begun with a single category with all information lumped together…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

empty thoughts I

1. one of the keystone deficits of autism is the inability to filter visual/auditory stimuli into hierarchical importance. evolutionarily speaking, i wonder what it is about “goal-, ancestral- and expertise-derived criteria” that is lost on these victims. a way in which autistic people cope with this lack of filtering is to focus obsessively on a single thing to override all the other stimuli they cannot make sense of at once. why do they preferentially focus on inanimate objects (banging head against the wall, counting toothpicks, etc.) when animate objects are more crucial for survival? Is there support for the counter hypothesis (“no mechanisms for deploying attention to animate objects”)?

*New et al 2007. Category specific attention...