Outline of the Top-Down Modeling Procedure
Top-down modeling begins with a realistic examination of language and proceeds by asking what kind of structure must be present in the brain to support the linguistic capabilities that humans possess. Thus the essence of the procedure is
- Start from linguistic data
- Build a plausible model as a set of hypotheses
- Test hypotheses against findings from neuroscience
1. Basic Principles
- People (rather than languages) as the objects of investigation. (See analytical linguistics.)
- Plausibility requirements for a realistic model:
- Operational plausibility
- Developmental plausibility
- Neurological plausibility
2. Examine Relationships among Linguistic Units
- Finding: The System is a Network of Relationships
3. Explore the Structure and Operation of the Network
- Initial Model: "Abstract" Notation
- Smaller Scale: "Narrow" (or "Expanded") Notation
- Large Scale: Subsystems and their Interconnections
- Speaking and understanding as traveling activation in the network
4. Explore the Learning Process
- Additional hypotheses developed:
- The abundance hypothesis
- The basic learning hypothesis: Strengthening successful connections
- The proximity hypothesis
- Kinds of connections provided genetically
5. After constructing the model on linguistic evidence (incl. operational),
- Test for neurological plausibility.
- At the small scale: Needed: a hypothesis of how nections are represented in neural structures.
Check hypotheses of connection types
- At the large scale: Check hypotheses of localization of subsystems
- Revise and refine as directed by neurological evidence.
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