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Contour Interpolation as a Modular Process
Dr, Brian Keane
Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 01:00pm - 02:00pm
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science
In his book Modularity of Mind (1983), Jerry Fodor argues that mental architecture can be partly decomposed into computational organs termed modules. Modules are characterized by properties such as informational encapsulation, domain-specificity, and automaticity, among others. Do modules exist? I address this question from the perspective of contour interpolation, which recovers object structure (shape, number, persistence) on the basis of how visible edges are spatiotemporally configured. I argue that interpolation plausibly satisfies each of the Fodorian criteria for modularity. Psychophysical tasks provide part of the evidence and include multiple object tracking, shape discrimination, visual search, and object-based priming. Data from single cell, EEG, and hemispatial neglect studies are also presented. Upon addressing results that are seemingly inconsistent with a modular interpolation process, I conclude that the empirical evidence, taken as whole, confirm Fodor's original speculation that at least certain parts of the mind are modularly organized.