Speaker: Mike Sharwood Smith
Topic: Relating input salience and interface accessibility.
The widely held assumption is that, in any form of cognitive development, we attend only to a subset of the input. What drives the behaviour of attentional mechanisms? Input salience can be explained in different ways. It can be 'preset' or it can arise via experience. The latter type can be incidental (non-intentional) or can occur 'by design', i.e., driven by an outside agency that is when attempting to facilitate communication (as in motherese and foreigner talk) or when trying to promote learning.
Defining the way different mental systems interface with one another is crucial. For this we need a proper framework that is in tune with research findings across different domains of research. The example of the way externally driven salience might work or fail to work is one way of illustrating the barriers and limitations that have been revealed by experimental research. It also shows the potential of accounts of processing that are more sophisticated than the kind of explanation that is typically resorted to when trying to interpret data obtained using particular types of elicitation. This discussion will not address one-size-fits all explanations based on, for example, radical connectionism and dynamic systems theory.