Friday, April 07, 2006

Links out the Wazoo

Welcome to this week's links post. First off, you may have heard about the study by social psychologists involving linguistic analysis of interviews by Kerry and Edwards during the 2004 campaign, and Gore during the 2000 campaign. A link to the paper (via Coturnix) is here. A more comprehensive analysis by the same research team, which compares Kerry, Edwards, Bush, and Cheney, can be found here. The analyses are undertaken using a program called LIWC (pronounced Luke), which stands for Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. The program looks for the 2300 words and word stems in its dictionary (as of the 2001 edition; I believe the 2006 edition may have more), and divides them into 73 different categories. Previous research has correlated these categories with specific variables, such as cognitive complexity or honesty. So, your LIWC "scores" are meant to indicate how "honest" or "intelligent" (cognitively complex) your speech is. There are problems with this method, particularly in the procedures involved in correlating word categories with variables, but it makes for interesting reads. If you want to play with an abridged version of LIWC yourself, you can enter any text you like into the window at this website, and it will give you a short LIWC analysis.

Some of you may be aware of the ongoing debate about a face recognition module. Several studies have suggested that part of the right fusiform gyrus, an area of the brain in the temporal lobe, is specifically designed to detect and recognize faces. The area has been dubbed the "fusiform face area," or FFA. The debate is over whether this area is specifically designed to detect faces, or is instead simply an object-recognition area that detects certain kinds of complex (and perhaps highly familiar) shapes. Stephen of OmniBrain links to an article about the most recently published research on the problem. The authors of the paper offer a model from the object-recognition perspective that does a good job of accounting for the evidence used to argue for the existence of a face-recognition module. Unfortunately, the actual paper is not available without a subscription, but here is an excerpt from the abstract to whet your appetite1:
We present a neurophysiologically plausible, feature-based model that quantitatively accounts for face discrimination characteristics, including face inversion [difficulty recognizing upside-down faces] and "configural"” effects. The model predicts that face discrimination is based on a sparse representation of units selective for face shapes, without the need to postulate additional, "“face-specific" mechanisms.
Next up, Richard of Philosophy, et cetera, has a very interesting post on "open relationships," which is followed by some very good discussion in the comments section.

Joshua Knobe, who consistently produces experimental philosophy's most intriguing results, has a short post about one of his recent studies on "Psychopaths and Moral Responsibility," at The Garden of Forking Paths.

Speaking of philosophy, at his blog, Brian Leiter links to this review of a collection of essays on the history of philosphy and analytic philosophy. It contains the following quote:
Analytic philosophy, Garber holds, has moved from its initial heady insistence on solving problems by logical analysis to its current watery demand for precision and rigor. It is currently in a state of crisis. Its practitioners are doing Kuhnian normal philosophy but the paradigm itself is coming unraveled. What properly and fully contextualized study of the past can do is to show us the many different things philosophers were doing in working on the problems we take as central.
Leither asks for comments, and Jason Stanley obliges, with a post titled "What Crisis?"

And finally, Tony Brown of GNIF Brain Blogger links to this interesting talk (Real Player) by Francis Crick on consciousness.

Unfortunately, no updates in the "Medieval Women I Adore" series as of yet, but go read Heo Cwaeth anyway.

1Jiang, X., Rosen, E., Zeffiro, T., VanMeter, J., Blanz, V., & Riesenhuber, M. (2006). Evaluation of a shape-based model of human face discrimination using fMRI and behavioral techniques. Neuron, 50(1), 159-172.


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