Interface Problems and the Role of Experience
Is there a role for experience in solving interface problems? On the interface problem involving preferences and primary motivational states, Dickinson & Balleine (1994) suggest a solution involving experience of bodily reactions to stimuli. And perhaps their idea could be extended and adapted to solve the interface problem involving motor representations and intentions.
This recording is also available on stream (no ads; search enabled). Or you can view just the slides (no audio or video). You should not watch the recording this year, it’s all happening live (advice).
If the video isn’t working you could also watch it on youtube. Or you can view just the slides (no audio or video). You should not watch the recording this year, it’s all happening live (advice).
If the slides are not working, or you prefer them full screen, please try this link.
We have now encountered two interface problems:
one involving motor representations and intentions (see The Interface Problem: Motor Representation vs Intention).
one involving preferences and primary motivational states (see Preference vs Aversion: A Dissociation); and
Is there a role for experience in solving the latter interface problem?
Consider this proposal:
Aversion, hunger and other primary motivational states modulate bodily responses to stimuli.
Those bodily responses can be, and often are, experienced.
For instance, encountering a food you are averse to might trigger peculiar feelings.
These expeirences have valence.
For example, bodily responses caused by aversion are typically experienced as unpleasant.
The valence of the feelings influences your preferences.
For example, however much you might want to eat a food initially, you will probably want to eat it a lot less if aversion to it reliably triggers bodily responses experienced as unpleasant.
This seems to be roughly what Dickinson and Balleine are suggesting:
‘primary motivational states, such as hunger, do not determine the value of an instrumental goal directly; rather, animals have to learn about the value of a commodity in a particular motivational state through direct experience with it in that state.’ (Dickinson & Balleine, 1994, p. 7)
‘the assignment of incentive value is based on learning about one’s own hedonic or affective reactions to the goal, reactions that are modulated by primary motivational states.’ (Dickinson & Balleine, 1995, p. 166)
On this proposal, cognition would be inefficient since it relies on experience to sync your preferences with your primary motivational states. But animal cognition is not typically inefficient. So this proposal is probably wrong.
Reply: Loose Coupling
A basic advantage of any dual-process theory is that it permits loose coupling.
In the case of preferences and primary motivational states, loose coupling is useful because
your primary motivational states keep you mostly on track
by, for example, preventing you from starving; and
loose coupling means that you can draw on your learning
to pursue things which appear harmful but are actually beneficial (such as chemotherapy)
and to avoid things which appear beneficial but are actually harmful (such as opiates).
Compare Dickinson and Balleine:
‘the motivational control over goal-directed actions is, at least in part, indirect and mediated by learning about one's own reactions to primary incentives. By this process [...], goal-directed actions are liberated from the tyranny of primary motivation.’ (Dickinson & Balleine, 1994, p. 16)
These ideas might motivate considering whether there is a role for experience in solving the other interface problem about motor representations and intentions (see The Interface Problem: Motor Representation vs Intention):
Motor representations of outcomes structure experiences, imaginings and (prospective) memories
in ways which provide opportunities for attention to actions directed to those outcomes.
Forming intentions concerning an outcome can influence attention to the action,
which can influence the persistence of a motor representation of the outcome.
Ask a Question
Your question will normally be answered in the question session of the next lecture.
More information about asking questions.