Simplicity Theory: Why did human brains specialize in detecting abnormal order?

  

Simplicity Theory: Why did human brains specialize in detecting abnormal order?

Jean-Louis Dessalles (School of Telecom, ParisTech)

 

Abstract:

Human beings devote some two hours each day on average to reporting events, through conversational narratives. This behaviour is unique in the animal kingdom.
Simplicity Theory offers a formal characterization of what makes an event narratable. Interesting events (exceptions, deviations from norms, coincidences, rarities, emotional situations...) all share the property of offering abnormal order: they are less complex than anticipated. Complexity drop (simplicity) seems to be a key determining factor, not only of interest, but also of aesthetics and of emotional intensity. Why did human beings evolve a sense of simplicity?

 

Bibliography:

Dessalles, J-L. (2008). La pertinence et ses origines cognitives - Nouvelles théories.
Paris: Hermes-Science Publications. pertinence.dessalles.fr

Dessalles, J-L. (2009). Why we talk - The evolutionary origins of language (2nd edition).
Oxford: Oxford University Press. www.dessalles.fr/WWT/

 

Slides of the talk:

 http://ecco.vub.ac.be/sites/all/files/VUB-ECCO-Simplicity-Theory-12-Oct-2012.pdf

Additional slides can be found here.

 

Video recording of the talk

Part 1: https://vimeo.com/51320719

Part 2: https://vimeo.com/51334527