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Decision of who is going to handle the word: S, W, or L

Posted by Potsdam_EM_Group on 28 Sep 2007 at 22:14 GMT

Imagine that L, W, and S are three technicians in a computer store. As customers arrive, the technicians avoid handling the same ones. Instead, L is a generalist, who handles most of the customers, while S and W are specialists, who only handle certain kinds of computer problems. S's and W's total performance cannot match L's, because they only handle certain customers, but, for those customers, they are faster than L would be. When such a customer walks in, S or W immediately lets L know he will handle it, so L can take the next person.
http://plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0000680#article1.body1.sec3.p5

The authors state that "S or W immediately lets L know he will handle it, so L can take the next person." This implies that S and W are at work before L comes into play. We wonder how the decision is made who (L, W, or S) is going to identify a word. How can these processes know that a given word is their case? Are the authors proposing a hierarchichal temporal order of the three processes?

RE: Decision of who is going to handle the word: S, W, or L

DenisPelli replied to Potsdam_EM_Group on 26 Oct 2007 at 16:59 GMT

“This implies that S and W are at work before L comes into play.”
We’re sorry that you didn’t find this clear. All three “techs” are at work. The idea is that each one processes each word (or “customer”) unless warned off by another. We suggest that S and W may know sooner than L that they can handle a particular word, and that by informing L, they allow L to move on to the next one.

“How can these processes know that a given word is their case?”
One way of knowing is to have the answer. It is also possible that there are internal harbingers of success within the computation.

“Are the authors proposing a hierarchical temporal order of the three processes?”
We are not certain what you mean by “hierarchical” here. We simply allow that one process can ‘head-off’ another to avoid duplication of effort.

Denis Pelli & Katharine Tillman
http://psych.nyu.edu/pell...