Tuesday 25 December 2012

Our first paper based on the blog is out in time for Christmas!

Last year we were invited to contribute to a special issue of Avant, an interdisciplinary open access journal that publishes in English and Polish. The issue is on affordances, and we were asked to contribute a piece detailing the contribution ecological psychology is making to modern cognitive science. Our paper is here; the complete issue is open access and available here (as separate files, a single issue pdf, and an ongoing Polish translation).

We had a lot of fun with this paper. The core of the paper comes from our posts about how psychology lacks a central theory and how Gibson serves as a good model for why theory matters, as well as being a key part of any more complete theory. We take a quick swipe at Daryl Bem and JPSP and then use the contrast between dynamic pattern vs. perception-action approaches in explaining coordinated rhythmic movement. In particular, we highlight Geoff's model as an exemplar of what psychologists should be up to - not just models, but theoretically motivated models.

We'd like to thank Tony Chemero for mentioning us to the people at Avant, and to the Avant team who do interesting work and gave us space to write what we hope will be a fun and useful paper. 

By the by, Avant are hosting a very interesting looking conference next year:

THINKING WITH HANDS, EYES AND THINGS. The 1st edition of the International Avant-Conference “Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies”, 8-10 November 2013, Torun, Poland

Monday 17 December 2012

Radical Embodied Cognitive Neuroscience - A Frontiers Research Topic

UPDATE: This topic is now live! We welcome all and any submissions that fit the remit. Please email Andrew if you are interested and I will add you to the contributors list, or you can also simply contribute via the Frontiers page

A couple of years ago, Sabrina and I were chatting about the brain and running into the problem that we just don't know enough about how it works. We realised that what we needed to do was host a conference, invite some useful people, and pick their brains for a few days. 

We've had two goes at funding such a conference; we've had a lot of interest from the academics we've contacted but no luck convincing anyone to give us any money. Over the process, however, we got Tony Chemero (author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science) involved, and he recommended Louise Barrett to us (that's how we came across her excellent book). The four of us have been scheming for a while to try and make this a reality, and two things have developed.

First, we are going to host a workshop on Radical Embodied Cognitive Neuroscience, hopefully at the Lorentz Centre in the Netherlands. Before that can really be worth doing, however, we've realised we need a little more momentum, so we've advanced our plans and are about to announce a Research Topic at Frontiers in Psychology. We'd like to invite all interested parties to play.

The goal is simple: we want this to be a virtual conference, in effect, where people pose problems and offer solutions to the problem of developing a radical (non-representational) embodied cognitive neuroscience. We want real collaborations to come out of this, so we want people coming looking for ways to help and be helped. And we want to create a resource that we can point to to shape discussions at future workshops. 

What we need from you
I've pasted the text of the call we will run below. If you are interested in submitting something to  this, send us your name, affiliation and email address (either in the comments below or email us, psychscientists@gmail.com). At this point, this commits you to nothing; we just need a decent length list of people to initially invite to submit, to indicate that there is going to be enough interest. If you change your mind later there's no problem.

Any thoughts on the call, let us know. We all like that this call is short, direct and to the point; too many of these research topic calls are inflated by too much detail. But if there's any flags, let us and know.

If you can help us by promoting  this post on social media, that would also be excellent. We are looking to cast a wide net.

Thursday 6 December 2012

The Task Dynamics of Throwing to a Maximum Distance

In my last post I went over the formal concept of task dynamics as a way of analysing a task to identify the affordances in that task. This post will examine the task dynamics of projectile motion and relate these to throwing to a maximum distance.This version of the task has been studied in detail over the last few years. There is another version of the task, namely throwing to hit a target (same dynamic, different parameters, therefore same task) and we will get to that later; we're working now on data from this task.

Part of my goal here is to lay out the research programme you should be following, if you want to study anything to do with perception and action. If you are interested in movement, and you aren't doing this kind of analysis as part of your work, then, I will suggest, you are doing it wrong. As we will see in future posts, this level of detail isn't just playing with numbers; a formal understanding of the underlying dynamics governing the task we are studying is utterly crucial if we want to be able to understand what people are doing, rather than simply describe their behaviour. 

Also it's fun :)