language and mind

June 12, 2011

The scientific theta

Filed under: language, language processing — Tags: , — teresapelka @ 10:40 am

The Greek alphabet has been widely used in modern science and culture. You can find the letter theta, for example, in biology, linguistics, mathematics, business, names of organizations, or whatnot. Theta can show how form happens to work in human information processing.

The lower case theta may mean a plane angle in geometry, one of the functions in prime number theory, type of bacterial DNA replication, a threshold value for an artificial neuron, or population mutation rate. In linguistics, the theta roles may help tell the doer of an action from the object (feel welcome to see the ‘indispensable vanity’). :)

There may be also the post injury temporal lobe thetas. The temporal lobes are important to memory. Should the injury impair the person’s memory, they may exhibit transient thetas in their temporal lobes. The thetas last as long as the brain is doing its job – reorganizing its neural net. Then the thetas are gone. The temporal lobes matter to language, too.

Initially found in lesioned animals, the results were later found valid injured humans. It is worth adding here that mystifying the thetas might bring harm. Mild neurological medication – only if called for – could do better than any story of a psychic dimension to the rhythm. Some brain conditions, if not medicated, can develop in serious trouble.

What follows from the above is that form is part arbitrary. The prime numbers, DNA replication, the passive voice, or amnesia do not have anything in common functionally. You could name the threshold for an artificial neuron any other way without changing the value – it only would be named lambda or ypsilon. This character of form became the ground for a dispute between Plato and his disciple, Aristotle. Please feel welcome to see ‘The Russian yes man?’ – my another post. :)

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