It might be just a matter of naming, but I guess what makes me hesitate is when a 'pure response' is described like a reflex reaction from the horse - a response that comes automatically as reaction to certain body languge for example. I don't know if you meant it like that, Romy, it's just how it presented itself to me.
While I think that there are some cues which elicit more unconscious reactions, I don't think that a response like moving in synchrony, is totally subconscious. The term 'pure' suggests it though - for me anyways
I don't think that being subconcious is mandatory for what I call pure responses, but I believe that conscious reflection is not necessary for them to occur. Of course I can be very aware of the fact that I am moving in synchrony with someone, but if i do not pay attention to that, I do it anyway.
For me it's a matter of similarity between the cue and the movement it elicits - or in more mechanistic terms, a question about the degree to which the cognitive codes for representing the cue and the movement overlap. Movements as well as perceptions are bundles of features. For example, an apple is not represented as a unitary concept in the brain (there is no "apple neuron" or "apple brain area") but as a combination of the firing of neurons that code its aspects, for example neurons that code a round shape, neurons that code a particular shade of red, neurons that code the shininess of its surface, and so on. If these neurons fire in synchrony, the mental representation of the apple gets active. Similarly, a forwards movement with a particular speed, impulsion and distance is represented by a pattern of synchronous firing of the neurons that code for these aspects (i.e. speed x, impulsion y, distance z) - and so is the perception of a movement with these parameters.
In consequence, when you perceive a body language cue with particular parameters, this automatically activates a movement pattern with the same parameters by means of spreading activation (from the perceptual codes to the corresponding motor codes) - so the mere perception of that cue can activate a movement that fits with it. This does not mean that you automatically have to perform that movement, but this seems to be a matter of inhibition more than a lack of activation (and indeed, patients with particular brain lesions that compromise the ability to inhibit tend to involuntarily imitate a movement when they see it). The term pure response might or might not fit for a response that gets directly activated by the perceived cue, but I am not particularly interested in conventions of naming things, so we can call it whatever you like.
What I just wrote about code overlap and spreading activation still does not explain why for example Summy follows me in a gradual movement but does not follow Nora when she just flips forward. After all, the features of her movement could activate the same feature in Summy as well and thus make him go along with that, automatically. However, I think this has to do with the threshold the activity of the feature codes needs to cross in order to trigger a behaviour. If, for example, Summy feels very sleepy, it is much harder to push the activations of his cognitive codes for fast movements above that thershold, because their baseline level of activation is so low. Accordingly, while these "fast features" do get some activation from perceiving her fast movement, it is not enough to trigger a response, so no movement emerges. In contrast, when it's very stormy for example and he is very much awake anyway, the basic activation of these same codes is higher already, so it takes less additional input to make them cross that threshold and make him start running.
So why do gradual increases work better to get him out of that resting state? I am not entirely sure, but I think it is because activation spreads to similar codes. That is, if I start off very slowly, the activation spreads from his codes for very slow movements to those for a tiny bit faster movements, so when I increase my speed afterwards, it's easier already to push them over that threshold, and at the same time the codes for movements that are still somewhat faster get a tad more activated as well, which then makes it easier to push them across the threshold, and so on. This might or might not be the way it works, but from what I know about the way mental codes for perception and action are activated, it does not seem unlikely.
I believe that certain cues - especially body language ones - are so much more familiar to the horse than any other learned cue that they are more easily understood.
Yes, definitely. From a common coding perspective (i.e. the notion that perception and action are mentally represented in the same way and therefore have the ability to activate each other), this higher familarity goes along with the fact that throughout a horse's life, the perception and performance of such movements have always co-occured. For example, when performing a fast movement, the horse has always perceived (his own) fast movement as well. Therefore, the feature codes of these two events (performing and perceiving "fast") have become highly associated. As a result, the perception of any
fast movement facilitates the performance of fast movements by means of spreading activation, and if that activation is high enough, the fast movement gets triggered.
By the way, this co-occurence explanation also implies that a symbolic cue might become a direct trigger for a movement as well if it goes along with that movement often enough. But then a few or a few hundred co-occurences of the symbolic cue and the movement stand in no relation to the millions of times the movement features that constitute the body language cue have co-occured with the movement features of the horse's behaviour, so I guess the body language cue will always be more direct in activating the movement.
I guess this was more fuzzy than what you wanted to hear and probably does not answer your question, does it?
The motivation to answer to an understandable question is a lot higher than to a obscure one, where a lot of guessing and thinking needs to be done and where the risk of failure is high.
Yes, I totally agree that motivation plays a huge role as well, as do emotions and preferences and personality, and a lot of other factors. But then that's the beauty of reasoning about behaviour and interactions between individuals, I think - no single theory can account for all of it, and there are so many different explanations on different levels. So we will never find the one and only truth and can keep thinking and discussing until we are old and grey.
Now, that's a very clever way of getting the horse to do what I want, but I aks myself if it is really related to something like a 'pure response'? Basically what you did was not cueing the wanted action directly (like "walk with me"). Instead you cued for little things, which you were sure the horse would react to, then used the resulting attention to form synchrony, which you then used to walk together in the direction you wanted. It was in fact not so much a result of a pure way of responding to the orignal question, but a result of cleverly rephrasing the interaction, so the fulfillment of the original goal was more like a byproduct of the little pieces of interaction.
Not sure whether I understand your point here. Do you mean that it's just the "splitting up into small pieces" that got her to react? If so, do you think that I would have reached the same effect if I had given little arbitrary cues, such as raising my finger and rewarding if she had attended, then turning my hand upside down and rewarded her for slowing down, then turning my hand a little more and rewarded for slowing down more?
I think of it as a pure response because to me it did not feel like I had an "original question" for which I first got the attention and then rephrased it, but more like a sequence of hundreds of little component questions, each of them being "Will you adjust your way of moving to mine?" But perhaps it would indeed be better to understand your question first before writing even more weird stuff.