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Limits to modules

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  • Mike Tintner
    robertbiegler writes: Chiappe and MacDonald (2005; J. Gen. Psy. 132(1), pp. 5-40) discuss the assumption of extreme modularity and argue (in my opinion
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2006
      robertbiegler writes:
      "Chiappe and MacDonald (2005; J. Gen. Psy. 132(1), pp. 5-40) discuss
      the assumption of extreme modularity and argue (in my opinion
      convincingly) that there are limits to modularity."
      Limits to modularity normally means: how many modules are there?
      Let's talk about something more interesting: the limits to any given module. What is the largest module there is, or could be? We may well have, for example, a facial recognition module. That's a module for recognizing a type of OBJECT. We seem to have some kind of "scene-construction" module. When we look at the world, we see scenes - this road with houses in front of me - an integrated SET OF OBJECTS. The brain presumably fits all that together automatically.
      If these modules exist, they are simple perceptual modules, for relatively simple reflection and analysis of the world.
      And perhaps language involves simple modules based on them. A sentence module perhaps that analyses and creates simple scenes - "The cat sat on the mat."
      OK.. so how much more complex, in terms of ideas and images, could modules be? Could there be a module for creating or recognising a SERIES OR SET OF SCENES? Could there be a module for telling stories? Constructing arguments? Creating dreams? If so, what? Or what kind?
      What could be the most complex SERIES OR SET OF IDEAS in any form - visual/ verbal or any other kind - that a module could instruct us to put together?
      Perhaps there are modules for SIMPLE ACTIONS - for grasping, kicking. (I wonder about that - because even the simplest of actions, it seems to me at first glance, is modified in the acquisition. Babies and infants learn to grasp and kick through trial and error rather than instantiating something like a fixed drive action beloved by Jay, I would have thought).
      How much more complex could modules be here - what could be the largest/ longest SERIES OF ACTIONS that a module could prescribe for?
      If you think there are some kind of courtship module or sex module, how would it work in terms of prescribing actions? Or types of actions? How would it prescribe, or affect foreplay, intercourse etc?
      You see what I am doing here (and I see what I am doing - because I am tossing this out off the top of my head) - I am trying to analyse behaviour into its simplest elements - which is presumably what modules must control - and asking how complex a series or set of such elements can/ do modules prescribe?
      Any behavioural modules must then be contrasted with ACQUIRED ROUTINES - acquired series of actions. Like spelling and writing routines. Or grooming and putting-on--clothes routines.
      Why and when would you want to have a rigid module prescribing behaviour, rather than a flexible and highly adaptable routine? If we want to postulate any modules, we should be able to justify them in this way.
      (Warning: all this is harder work than talking about whether there are "a lot of modules" or "a few modules.")

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