Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Abstract Addressing and Discontinuous Addressing Impede Processing in Generalizing Hierarchies

The article is related to the series of:  Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Rationalization and Confusions Caused by High Level Generalizations and the Feedforward-Feedback Imbalance in Brain and Generalization Hierarchies

The lowest level of addressing for human mind are:

- Orientation/position of muscles/bones.
- Coordinates in sensory matrices:
  - Visual coordinate on the retina.
  - Coordinate of a tactile input on the body.
  - Pitch of the sound.
  - Particluar tastes or smells.

A bit higher level, but still low:
- Spatial coordinates of the body within environment (probably related to hippocampus, "place cells", head orientation cells)

   -
These are direct inputs to brain.


Selection, combination and generalization of them in space and time forms higher level coordinates/addresses. The patterns/concepts at different levels of abstraction in the cognitive hierarchy have higher level addresses, where higher level addresses and patterns are harder and slower to access and operate and require more context- and attention-switching.

The phenomenon is displayed for example in:

1. Using multiple monitors and looking right-left is generally more convenient than switching between two virtual desktops with a key or worse - menus

Unless you make a visual comparison between the images on the two monitors, then key-switching is more convenient; but for displaying different data, physical coordinates seem better.

2. Having a "to do list" or whatever materials for look up on a paper/notepad next to the monitor/out of the computer is more convenient for mind to switch focus.

Looking aside of the monitor or turning around feels like a "soft context/attention-switch", you don't get as distracted as you would if you have to travel through menus, open an organizer program, check "month, date, priority....". Take for example big paper posters like ones for conferences - you just have to glance it to find what you need. These are different spatial (physical) coordinates of entities as well.

However if the data from different contexts is on the same screen/physical address, that requires an additional abstraction/parameters to mark the different contexts.

3. Chains of intentional high-level operations needed to access abstract addresses impede processing and are more distracting than a single or chain of low level operations such as adjusting muscles/orientation or changing physical location

For example, if you have to open one place, to search there, then find a key to search for another location etc. (either virtual or physical locations).

Intentional actions involve the longest chains of access of different levels of generalizations. If many actions are needed, this implies it takes more time and it's like "crawling" the hierarchy and sweeping the buffers, then it of course will cause slower context-switch back.

4. Orders of patterns associated with flat numbers are easier to remember than if associated with abstract unrelated names

See "Friday, May 2, 2008 What is better for a multi-effects guitar processor's display - numbers or names?" http://artificial-mind.blogspot.com/2008/05/what-is-better-for-guitar-effects.html

5. Continuity within same coordinate system/address space (related to 4.)


Smoothness allows for simper encoding of the following steps and predictions.


Continues...

4 comments :

Georgi D. said...

Well, the fair comparison for point 2 would be to have the notepad buried under piles of other papers. Of course having it ready by the monitor would be easier on the mind than wandering through menus!

Obviously your observations on attention can be turned around to give implications for interface design (that is, if they're correct). Perhaps some augmented reality could mimic well enough different contexts within one device.

Todor "Tosh" Arnaudov said...

Not exactly/always, rather the notepad to be in a known drawer, or to have to open first one drawer, then another etc.

I mean you may generally know the structure of the menu (not browsing for the first time), but each time you have to search the exact coordinates of the desired command at each level, instead of doing directly what the final menu does.

Georgi> Perhaps some augmented reality could mimic well enough different contexts within one device.

I have posted videos of a very cool demo of an AR device, but they have deleted it.

This is an open comment, I may continue the later.

Georgi D. said...


Todor> Not exactly/always, rather the notepad to be in a known drawer, or to have to open first one drawer, then another etc.

Yeah, more like this. Then both onscreen and offscreen actions become sequences of steps, which delay the outcome and get on the nerves of the performer.

I got the impression though that you state a physical notepad is easier to switch mentally to and back than between windows on the screen (like in "hops directly into the mind" easier). This shouldn't need the additional trouble of navigating menus.

Todor "Tosh" Arnaudov said...

Georgi> I got the impression though that you state a physical notepad is easier to switch mentally to and back than between windows on the screen (like in "hops directly into the mind" easier). This shouldn't need the additional trouble of navigating menus.

Todor
Yes, I do state this also.
Different physical coordinates are less abstract and easier to navigate, than one screen on which 1000 different kinds of notepads appear one after another, even if you access the virtual ones with one click from a set of icons.


That's related to why it's convenient to have an office/desk which is clean of junk/distractions and to be able to focus in right contexts, not to have to switch contexts.