Friday, June 9, 2017

Modal, amodal & supramodal concept representation

Yeah, a geeky post on neuroscience. In trying to justify the phrase I made up--amodal hier(an)archical synplexity--I starting looking into the meaning of the word amodal. I meant it in the sense not of there being no embodied modes involved in the process but rather, given the other words in the phrase, a synergy of bodily modes organized by none in particular. And not in the sort of hierarchy that subsumes the body in higher abstract functions but more of a dynamic structural coupling grounded in Derrida's non-concept of differance. (I warned you this was geeky.)

It turns out to be a highly specific thing in neuroscientific literature. This article discusses both modal and amodal representations with some recommendations. The embodied thesis claims that sensorimotor modes are fundamental in forming more abstract concepts and representations.  It is critical of the amodal representation thesis, the pure expression of the latter claiming representational meaning is divorced from bodily experience.

Given the neuroscientific research to date, there is evidence for both systems, so the authors propose a hybrid. There is an amodal conceptual hub located in the anterior temporal cortex which integrates the information from the modal sensorimotor areas. Working together they create a supramodal representational space. This is much more akin to what I intuited by my using amodal in the phrase.

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