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The Now-or-Never Bottleneck

I found the following short article fascinating and its implications worth considering as food for thought in our 2019 feast and celebration.

From the Journal of Neurolinguistics 49 (2019) 224–227: "It's about time: Adding processing to neuroemergentism," by Erin S. Isbilena, Morten H. Christiansena, and Nick Chate, Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, and Behavioural Science Group, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. Excepts follow.

“Hernandez, Claussenius-Kalman, Ronderos, Castilla-Earls, Sun, Weiss and Young (2018; henceforth HCRCSWY) offer a synthesis of a number of related theories seeking to understand the neural underpinnings of higher-level cognitive skills as they emerge across evolution and development. The resulting framework—dubbed Neurocomputational Emergentism (or Neuromergentism)—focuses on how human-specific cognitive abilities—such as reading and arithmetic—may capitalize on existing neurocognitive functions interacting with developmental processes. Thus, HCRCSWY see the emergence of such complex cognitive skills as corresponding to the suggestion by Bates, Benigni, Bretherton, Camaioni and Volterra (1979: p. 3) that ‘language is a new machine built out of old parts.’

“…Together, these challenges form a Now-or-Never Bottleneck (Christiansen & Chater, 2016a,b): if input is not processed as soon as it is encountered, the signal is either overwritten or interfered with by new incoming material. In order to sustain linguistic functions, the cognitive system must overcome this bottleneck.”