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.
We have now encountered two interface problems:
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
By this process [...], goal-directed actions are
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.
: Any theory concerning abilities in a particular domain on which those
abilities involve two or more processes which are distinct in this sense:
the conditions which influence whether one mindreading process occurs differ
from the conditions which influence whether another occurs.
: An interface problem may arise when two kinds of representation sometimes non-accidentally
match: the problem is to explain how such matches are possible.
: The kind of representation characteristically involved in preparing, performing and monitoring sequences of small-scale actions such as grasping, transporting and placing an object.
They represent actual, possible, imagined or observed actions and their effects.
primary motivational state
: A state such as hunger, thirst, satiety, aversion or sexual arousal.
Primary motivational states are closely linked to biological needs.
They are not all acquired through learning; and learning has limited
effects on them, although classical conditioning can modify them
(Capaldi, Hunter, & Lyn, 1997).
Capaldi, E. D., Hunter, M. J., & Lyn, S. A. (1997). Conditioning with taste as the CS in conditioned flavor preference learning. Animal Learning & Behavior
(4), 427–436. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03209849
Dickinson, A., & Balleine, B. (1994). Motivational control of goal-directed action. Animal Learning & Behavior
(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03199951
Dickinson, A., & Balleine, B. (1995). Motivational Control of Instrumental Action. Current Directions in Psychological Science
(5), 162–167. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.ep11512272
Fairhurst, M. T., Janata, P., & Keller, P. E. (2013). Being and feeling in sync with an adaptive virtual partner: Brain mechanisms underlying dynamic cooperativity. Cerebral Cortex
(11), 2592–2600. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhs243
Flombaum, J. I., & Scholl, B. J. (2006). A temporal same-object advantage in the tunnel effect: facilitated change detection for persisting objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance
(4), 840–853. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-15188.8.131.520
Fourneret, P., & Jeannerod, M. (1998). Limited conscious monitoring of motor performance in normal subjects. Neuropsychologia
(11), 1133–1140. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0028-3932(98)00006-2
Fridland, E. (2016). Skill and motor control: Intelligence all the way down. Philosophical Studies
(6), 1539–1560. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-016-0771-7
Keller, P. E., Novembre, G., & Hove, M. J. (2014). Rhythm in joint action: Psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms for real-time interpersonal coordination. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
(1658), 20130394. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0394
Leslie, A. M., Xu, F., Tremoulet, P. D., & Scholl, B. J. (1998). Indexing and the object concept: Developing ’what’ and ’where’ systems. Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Loehr, J. D., & Palmer, C. (2011). Temporal coordination between performing musicians. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Mitroff, S. R., & Alvarez, G. A. (2007). Space and time, not surface features, guide object persistence. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
(6), 1199–1204. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193113
Mitroff, S. R., Scholl, B. J., & Wynn, K. (2005). The relationship between object files and conscious perception. Cognition
(1), 67–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2004.03.008
Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1989). The role of location indexes in spatial perception: A sketch of the FINST spatial-index model. Cognition
(1), 65–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(89)90014-0
Repp, B. H. (2005). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
(6), 969–992. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206433
Repp, B. H., & Keller, P. E. (2008). Sensorimotor synchronization with adaptively timed sequences. Human Movement Science
(3), 423–456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2008.02.016
Repp, B. H., & Su, Y.-H. (2013). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of recent research (20062012). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
(3), 403–452. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-012-0371-2
Scholl, B. J. (2007). Object Persistence in Philosophy and Psychology. Mind & Language
(5), 563–591. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0017.2007.00321.x
Schulze, H.-H., Cordes, A., & Vorberg, D. (2005). Keeping synchrony while tempo changes: Accelerando and ritardando. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal
(3), 461–477. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mp.2005.22.3.461