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22 Apr Breaking Down Language Structure and Function

Communication Functions

Grammar Acquisition Some experts suggest that a correctly formulated adult grammar is acquired by children on the basis of sentences they hear in their first few years (Pinker, 1984, p. 5). The proponents of this theory assume that a young child perceives sentence structure or is able to detect elements of grammatical structure – a […]

21 Apr Language Inherited

Innate Grammar

Language Acquisition How do children acquire language? How do they learn about grammar and productively apply its general rules to creating new utterances? Some attempts to explain this phenomenon have suggested that a set of grammar rules is innate. Advocates of this theory (Chomsky 1968) point to grammatical similarities, or universals, across languages and aver that a […]

17 Apr Learning by Repetition

Aperture and Shutter Speed

Frequency and Exposure For the very young, language learning requires mental gymnastics. Most theories of language learning refer to the fact that the frequency of repetition of a word or structure pattern determines the strength of its acquisition. In this context, there may be some threshold of frequency which, once reached, will result in the […]

09 Apr Abstract Contexts and Fuzzy Reasoning

The Face of AI

We do not yet know how we remember things, nor do we know how we use remembered things in reasoning. The amazing feedback loops of afferent and efferent fibers between different layers of the cortex give us some amazing clues (Hawkins 2004). Today’s discussion of abstract contexts and fuzzy reasoning is intended as a bridge […]

02 Apr Context and Expectations

Keyboard Music

Expectations are context based, top-down ideas of what comes next. These top-down ideas feed perceptual processing centers in the brain, helping us focus on what matters, ,and sometimes blinding us to other possibilities.  The two types of context we will consider today are sensory and non-sensory. Sensory context applies to anything in the physical world […]

31 Mar [Mountcastle 1978]

27 Mar Cognition and Emotion


I’m conflicted. I suspect you are too. “Since the time of the ancient Greeks, humans have found it compelling to segregate reason from passion, thinking from feeling, cognition from emotion. These contrasting aspects… have in fact often been viewed as waging an inner battle for control of the human psyche”  (LeDoux, 1996, p. 24). In earlier […]

25 Mar Generalization and Inference

Chicago Drawbridge

What do you do when you encounter something completely new, such as a new flavor. Can you identify that it is a flavor and that it resembles some flavors you’ve encountered before? If you knew about bridges from experience, but had never seen a drawbridge, or a lift bridge or a covered bridge, would you be able […]

20 Mar Section 4 Intro – Perception and Cognition

Sensory Perception

Wha’cha Thinking? All the developers in the world could work forever to try to imitate brain functions, and even if they begin with a good understanding of the physiology of the brain and the microscopic mechanisms of electrical transmission between neurons, would have great difficulty passing a Turing test without some knowledge of perception, memory and cognition. Add Searle’s more demanding Chinese […]

19 Mar Fuzzy Logic Section Intro


Why do we find Mr. Spock, Commander Data or C3P0 so lovable? We have all known people like them: they are the ones who see the world in black and white. Spock had an excuse – he was a Vulcan who knew a lot. Computers, on the other hand, can be downright exasperating when they get […]