A precis of my book, Attention, can be found at Lisa Bortolotti’s blog, Imperfect Cognitions:
Both Lisa and I were featured scholars here as Jakob is now (thanks John). I still(!) think attention is important and happy to have any discussion of the topic or on the book, here or there. Please have a look.
Today’s NY Times has an article about a new paper in Psychological Science on whether talent or practice is more important for elite performance. In a meta-analysis, the psychologists “found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions”. I haven’t read the Psych Science paper, but, while the 21% for music is at least somewhat plausible, the 4% and 1% are obviously too low. Something is wrong with this research.
The debate is a bit poorly framed too, although the NY Times article goes some distance in the direction of setting it straight. The dichotomy between talent and deliberate practice is a false one. There are at least two other huge factors: determination and quality training (in addition to starting at an optimal age, which I’m going to ignore here).
Every elite performer is a unique case, with its own unique combination of factors that explain it. But you are not going to understand elite performance if all you focus on is talent vs. hours of deliberate practice.
It doesn’t take a lot of sophisticated science to know that talent and (deliberate) practice are insufficient for elite performance. For one thing, it takes good training. The better the teaching/training, the better the results are likely to be. That’s one reason that students obsess about getting into good Ph.D. programs. And even that is insufficient. We all know people who are talented and worked hard under good teachers, and yet they didn’t perform at the expected level. What they were missing is what I here call “determination,” which is a whole complicated set of skills and dispositions that would be worth investigating in detail.
The prediction error minimization (PEM) account of brain function may explain perception, learning, action, attention and understanding. That at least is what its proponents claim, and I suggested in an earlier post that perhaps the brain does nothing but minimize its prediction error. So far I haven’t talked explicitly about consciousness. Yet, if PEM is true, and if consciousness is based in brain activity, then PEM should explain consciousness too. In this post I therefore speculate about what PEM might have to say about consciousness. Continue Reading →
Here is one, for a special issue of Topoi on “The Geometry of the Visual Field: Early Modern and Contemporary Approaches”. It arises from a workshop held in Fribourg last fall, where I gave a paper. Several excellent philosophers and psychologists are already confirmed as contributors. The submission deadline is October 15.
And here is another, for a conference in Rome on the philosophy and neurophysiology of dreaming, with a submission deadline of July 15.
Sorry not to have done one of these posts in a while! The following articles by Brains contributors were added to PhilPapers from April through June. Please let me know of any errors or omissions. – JS
Marcus Arvan (forthcoming). A Unified Explanation of Quantum Phenomena? The Case for the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis as an Interdisciplinary Research Program. Philosophical Forum.
Glenn Carruthers (2014). What Makes Us Conscious of Our Own Agency? And Why the Conscious Versus Unconscious Representation Distinction Matters. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8.
Wayne Wu & Raymond Cho (2014). Is Inner Speech the Basis of Auditory Verbal Hallucination in Schizophrenia? Frontiers in Psychiatry 14:1-3.
Felipe De Brigard (2014). The Nature of Memory Traces. Philosophy Compass 9 (6):402-414.
Stephan Blatti (forthcoming). Mortal Harm and the Antemortem Experience of Death. Journal of Medical Ethics.
Gaurav H. Patel, David M. Kaplan & Lawrence H. Snyder (forthcoming). Topographic Organization in the Brain: Searching for General Principles. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Robert Briscoe (forthcoming). Review of Christopher Gauker, Words and Images: An Essay on the Origin of Ideas. Mind.
J. Robert Thompson (2014). Meaning and Mindreading. Mind and Language 29 (2):167-200.
One of the anonymous reviewers of my book manuscript remarked, with approval, that it contained very little discussion of embodied, extended and enactive (EEE) cognition. Probably this omission stems from my Kantian gut feeling that an explanation of mind and cognition must appeal only to what happens after sensory input hits the senses, and the view that the prediction error minimization (PEM) scheme accomplishes this explanation. But does PEM indeed make the extremely influential current EEE-debates obsolete? Can one buy into PEM and EEE at the same time? This post suggests that PEM is indeed cast in an unfashionable Cartesian and Kantian mould, which is anathema to EEE. Yet, though deeply inferentialist, PEM does give a central role to the body, to some objects, and to action. Continue Reading →
Man, this looks really excellent. (h/t David Pereplyotchik)
In The Atlantic, the neuroscientist Nancy Andreason discusses her research on the neural underpinnings of creativity.
At Aesthetics for Birds, Bence Nanay discusses the role of attention in aesthetic perception. (h/t Leiter Reports)
An article in Nature discusses a new push to fund neuroscience research in California. (h/t David Rosenthal)
And on a lighter note, here’s a refreshingly “formal” take on the duck/rabbit phenomenon. (h/t Daily Nous)
This is really cool. Doesn’t strike me as an illusion, though, but rather as an illustration of the cognitive penetrability of of auditory perception. (h/t Richard Brown and others on Facebook)
A new exhibition in London’s National Gallery explores how the “color-blind” see art. (h/t the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience on Facebook)
Here is a call for papers for a consciousness research topic in “Frontiers in Psychology” that I thought might be of interest to some readers: http://www.frontiersin.org/Consciousness_Research/researchtopics/