Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Experimental Study of the Emergence of Human Communication Systems 

An Experimental Study of the Emergence
of Human Communication Systems
(PDF) by Bruno Galantucci


The emergence of human communication systems is typically investigated via 2 approaches with complementary strengths and weaknesses: naturalistic studies and computer simulations. This study was conducted with a method that combines these approaches. Pairs of participants played video games requiring communication. Members of a pair were physically separated but exchanged graphic signals through a medium that prevented the use of standard symbols (e.g., letters). Communication systems emerged and developed rapidly during the games, integrating the use of explicit signs with information implicitly available to players and silent behavior-coordinating procedures. The systems that emerged suggest 3 conclusions: (a) signs originate from different mappings; (b) sign systems develop parsimoniously; (c) sign forms are perceptually distinct, easy to produce, and tolerant to variations."

Haskins Laboratories 

Haskins Laboratories: "Haskins Laboratories is an independent, international, multidisciplinary community of researchers conducting basic research on spoken and written language. Exchanging ideas, fostering collaborations, and forging partnerships across the sciences, it produces groundbreaking research that enhances our understanding of -- and reveals ways to improve or remediate -- speech perception and production, reading and reading disabilities, and human communication."

Looking for a sign 

Language | Looking for a sign | "...what are the ingredients of successful communication?

Having observed winning pairs at play, Dr Galantucci says that communication is established as soon as one player decides to copy the symbols proposed by his co-player, rather than impose his own. At that point the pair's chances of finding each other jump. As soon as there is imitation, he says, there is a common currency. After that, it is relatively easy to attach useful information to those symbols."

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