Monday, November 15, 2010

Runeson on Sensory Deprivation Experiments

Inhibited practice
If a person is not allowed to use his planimeter for a number of years, he may be unable to use it afterwards. Either the planimeter has deteriorated through corrosion or the user has grown too old to relearn its use.
     Moral. The problems encountered by blind people who get their vision back through operation could be of the above kind. The same might be true for the practical blindness exhibited by kittens who have been moved around passively for a long time. (Runeson, 1977, p. 177).
The moral Runeson draws actually reminds me of an issue that I've not yet broached.  So, what, according to Ecological Psychologists (EPs), is the explanation of the visual deficits of those who have congenital cateracts removed?  What do they say about the deficits of the kittens in the Hein and Held experiment?  Are they going to say anything more than something in the body has deteriorated through corrosion?  (I know Noë's line on this and I don't think it works, but is there a "standard" EP line?)

Most importantly, what do they say about the deficits in experiments with monocular lid suture?  These look to be cases in which the neurons of the visual system develop abnormally.  But, EPs seem not to want to talk about the brain.  I have not seen an outright prohibition or denunciation of research on the brain, but then again EPs don't seem to talk much about it anyway.  Gibson, 1979, has no index entry for "brain".

Chemero apparently thinks Gibson rejects use of information about the brain, but Gary has rejected that rejection.


  1. Here is Gary's post re: Chemero:

  2. I'm with Gary here; I think the main reason Gibson didn't talk about the brain is that he had a lot of other things to do first. It's one of my complaints about fMRI and imaging in general, in fact, that a lot of it is lacking a clear theory of information (ie what went in), complicating interpretations of what happened next.

    Eco-psych in general doesn't do brain stuff because we get so much mileage from behavioural work and there's so much more to get done. Given that, I've yet to see the point in even a well run fMRI study. I think we need to spend a lot more time working up a 'job description' for the brain before we go jumping in.

  3. Last night I was reading through Chemero's discussion of the TSRM paper from his RECS book. One thing I can say is that the discussion is very clear to me. I understand what he's saying and what his objections are. It's a lot clearer to me that the TSRM itself. So, it might be useful to have you and/or Gary post up some commentary on Chemero's book sometime. References to the relevant texts are always much appreciated here.

  4. I am working my way back through RECS at the moment and giving the Reading Group treatment for the blog. I want to get a good set of posts queued up before I begin, so it will be a couple of weeks before I set it in motion, but I'm on the case. I'm a little worried about Tony's 'Affordances 2.0' but it will be good to invest a little time back in it on the blog. So stay tuned!

  5. Excellent!

    I read one paper by Tony on an outline of a theory of affordances, or something like that, but it was unclear to me how that tied in with any empirical data. Seemed like a philosophers exercise to me.

    I'll be doing a conference session with Tony next spring, then we'll both be on a program in early summer. So, I'll be reading at least some of RECS in preparation. I did, however, read the first five or six chapters in manuscript.

  6. Yes, I've already typed some posts on some early stuff where he's talking about extended mind stuff. I have a lot more context for it this time round :)