Forum Archive - Week 13
What's STILL missing if we take the brain=behavior idea seriously? We going to make it ... all the way ... to Emily?
Name: Paul Grobstein
Subject: week 13
Date: Sun Apr 29 11:06:02 EDT 2001
Its coming down to the wire. Let's see, we managed personality? And at least a start on learning and memory (with a bit more to go)? And even got some new ideas about the I-function? Have some new perspectives and/or new questions based on that? What's STILL missing if we take the brain=behavior idea seriously? We going to make it ... all the way ... to Emily?
Date: Sun Apr 29 11:57:34 EDT 2001
I have to start out by saying that I went to see Memento this past weekend and it was wonderful. I know that not everyone has seen it, but while watching it, there were some questions that entered my mind that concern memory. I know that Dr. Grobstein breifly addressed what the movie was about, but I would recap it before I asked my questions. The movie is about a man that has a "condition" as he calls it that effects his short term memory. In other words, her can not form and retain memories for more than a few minutes at a time. This follows with the story very well, because he can not remember people or place no matter how many times he meets them or goes to them. As the story unfolds, he puts together the story behind his wife's murder. However, the thing that bothered me was that he couldn't remember anything after that accident that caused his condititon except that he had this condition. If he truly couldn't remember anything, because this was physical problem, then why could he always remember that he had this condition? Does this imply that there is some role of the I-function in this memory loss condition? Does the fact that he is aware of his condition suggest that memories are indeed linked to the I-fuction? If this condition was a purely physical defect, then this man would not have been able to retain the memory that he had a condition, because he did not learn about it until after it happened.
I know that this a movie, but it is a very provocative one and makes you look closer at not only how memory works, but also how the I-function may be involved. This condition occurs after a head trauma, which goes along with what we were talking about on THursday. We learned that head traumas can alter patterning in the NS and that is what causes memory loss, but does that mean that the I-function is not invovled in the process of memory? Somehow, I don't think that the I-function is completely separate from anything. It always seems to work its way in there somehow.
Date: Sun Apr 29 16:56:17 EDT 2001
I am still interested in the generalized control mechanisms associated with emotion - specifically in their function in granting a broader perspective of the world. This idea seems to go along somehow with the claim that you need to know true pain to know true joy, you need to experience true hunger and deprivation to really appreciate a comfortable standard of living, you don't know what you have until it is gone, etc. Intuitively, these concepts appear to hold some truth but I can't imagine how they manifest on a cellular level - other than eliciting a memory as a referemce point. Do certain emotions render you more "sensitized" to their polar opposites? But this does not hold true for all emotions. It does not seem necessary to know extreme hatred, for example, to know intense love.
And what is the relation between the GCM model and the I-function? How, for instance, do external cues sometimes override our GCM-determined disposition? And what does this do to the cycle? And how keen is our awareness of these pre-determined dispositions? I, for instance, have learned to disregard my own thoughts when I am extremely tired because I become so grumpy and irritable. And, lastly, what is regulating all of these control mechanisms for sleep, creativity, etc.? I understand that they work through anatomical and pharmalogical specificities, but what is monitoring the cyclic activity within these domains?
Name: Gwen Slaughter
Subject: the brain and personality
Date: Sun Apr 29 19:29:27 EDT 2001
Well, I think I have developed a better understanding of how the brain is involved in personality. And, I think it fits with brain=behavior. I just read an article by Dr. Fredric Schiffer, which provides evidence that the different cerebral hemispheres have distinct personalities. As we all know, information in the left visual field goes to the right brain and information in the right visual field goes to the left brain. Schiffer constructed a pair of goggles that block all information from the right visual field and a pair of goggles that block all visual information from the left visual field. These goggles were used in therapy with his patients. Schiffer found that patients were more anxious when they wore the goggles that blocked the right visual field (info to the left brain) and calmer when they wore the goggles that blocked the left visual field (info to the right brain). My question is, are our cerebral hemispheres in constant battle with each other? Does the right brain suppress the left brain in order to remain calm and act in a socially appropriate manner? Does our left brain gain control when we get angry and upset? I don't know if these questions are answerable, but this article provides more information in favor of brain=behavior.
Name: avis brennan
Subject: consciousness and evolution
Date: Sun Apr 29 19:47:46 EDT 2001
Thinking about consciousness, awareness and perception
introduces some interesting questions involving the evolution of the
brain, and the necessity of the I-function. Some of mental life
proceeds quite smoothly without a conscious awareness of
processing. Vision is one example of this. We see things and we do
not need to be aware of the process by which the information from
the outside world formed an image in our head. This seems to be
perception and awareness because we are actively processing
information. This is not consciousness (which I have come to regard
as a subset of awareness) because we are without any sense of
control for how that information is being registered. Consciousness
seems to appear when it is time to combine information and respond
accordingly. That is, when we need to take something from our
memory, attend to incoming stimulation, and perhaps coordinate
some relevant behavior we must be consciously orchestrating each
process. This implies that consciousness involves input from the
external world, and proprioceptive information about the processing
states of our body, and the activities of our brain. My question is, is
consciousness, or the I-function, something that developed? As
humans, have we always had it? The most basic species respond
with only an awareness of their environment, and they survive. Could
we as humans, survive as a species without conscious behavior. I
guess this is where language comes into play. It seems to me that
language is the most deliberate, conscious process we are capable
of. It also distinguishes us in the animal kingdom. Are all these
processes localized to areas of the neocortex that are newest in the
scale of human evolution?
Date: Sun Apr 29 20:11:51 EDT 2001
I was watching CSI last week and one of the forensic investigators was thinking back to a talk she had with a victim’s mother. “Her eyes were pointed in the wrong direction,” she said to a colleague, as they tried to find out how the victim was killed. She explained how when people are making up a story, they look to the left and when they’re remembering something, they look to the right. The mother was looking to the left as she told her version of what had happened and how her daughter was killed. At first, where a person is looking seems like a crazy way of deciphering whether someone is telling the truth. But if brain = behavior, then it’s not so unlikely. Memory is in the brain and motions someone makes comes from the brain, motions associated with memories and fabrication aren’t the same. Of course, something like this might not be the evidence you can use in court but it can give you incentive to dig a little deeper or consider the possibility that things are not what they seem.
One thing I would like to know is if left-brained people and right-brained people have the same motions when remembering or fabricating. Are these little motion clues accurate in most people? We already know from class that the iris of the eyes dilate when a person is interested. What other clues are there to tell people what you are thinking?
Subject: To be sure
Date: Mon Apr 30 16:06:39 EDT 2001
So we've talked a little bit about memory. And it makes sense to me that memories are formed in the very short term by changes in electrical patterns (basically, by changes in thoughts, it seems to me) and in the longer term by changes in the physical structure of the nervous system -- new neurons, new connectivities, new synaptic sensitivities. I have one big question remaining, though. We started the discussion of learning and memory by asking, "How do we know what we know?" meaning, how have we come to have the knowledge that we do? My question is just a slight modification of that: How do we know that we know something? Meaning, what does it mean to "be sure." The question came to me as I was studying organic chemistry, but I'm sure you have analogous experiences: there were some pieces of information that I remembered and just knew were correct, while there were other pieces that I thought I remembered correctly, but wasn't sure (and there were an unfortunately large number of pieces that I just didn't remember). This question applies to Memento, as well, for those who have seen it, and even to that TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire (you know, how the contestants call some uncle and ask him the question and then say "how sure are you?" and he says "about 80%.")
How could this be? It seems like either a memory is there or it isn't -- either the neurons have rearranged or they haven't. Does this imply that there's a further complicating step in memory - the recall of a memory by the I-function? It's not enough simply to have a memory; the I-function must be able to access the memory. More significantly, perhaps it implies that the I-function cannot always distinguish between thoughts generated by memory and thoughts generated by creativity; if it could, then we would always be 100% sure about memory - either we remember it correctly or we don't remember it at all. Of course, it can distinguish between them most of the time, so what's the difference? And how does that difference get blurred sometimes?
Subject: Lucid Sleep?
Date: Mon Apr 30 16:52:30 EDT 2001
I was doing a little web searching and I found a really interesting website on the brain and dreaming and it discussed the possibility being able to enter lucid sleep by programing yourself. It seemed a little far fetched but I know I have experienced lucid sleep myself. Lucid sleep is described as when you are dreaming but then you suddenly become aware that you are dreaming but you remain asleep and are able to alter your dreams. This type of sleep seems to play havoc with the idea that the I-function is not involved during REM sleep when you dream. The website described how people could make themselves dream about certain ideas and how to avert the endings of bad dreams so that they did not end badly. If you think about it, I guess it is possible to dream about the same subject for a few nights. There are some dreams that I really liked and try to have again. It is interesting when I have dreams and in the dream I can swear that I have had the dream before, but as far as I can remember I never have had the dream before. Anyway the whole idea of making your subconscious dreams part of your conscious thought process is a fascinating idea.
At the beginning of the course I voted that brain=behavior. I still hold this opinion although I think that there is a lot about the brain that we still don't understand. IT seems that the I-function does play apart in our daily activities. The whole idea of personality and dreaming comes from the brains power, but I do believe that external circumstances do control the way our brain manipulates information.
Date: Mon Apr 30 16:57:55 EDT 2001
In thinking about the effect of experience, we have begun to focus on learing and memory. But what about understanding? Is it an example of experience? How does it differ from learning?
I have also started to rethink the I-function. I was always trying to place the unique aspects of behavior, such as personality, into the realm of the I-function. But now I believe that the I-function doesn't really account for all that much. We can do many things without regard to the I-function.
The reason my personality is different from yours is primarily due to differences in the processing of inputs and outputs. In addition, my ability to have different views and opinions is not a function of the I-function. The I-function has a much smaller role than I had previously believed. I somehow expected there to be more. All of our individual variabiltiy originates in the nervous system. I guess I was looking to find that the reason people are all different is due to more than just the way the brain processes inputs and outputs.
Subject: Short-Term Memory
Date: Mon Apr 30 18:52:24 EDT 2001
I'd really like to learn more about the process of memories and how they are transferred from short-term memories to long-term memories. I find it fascinating that there is a known limit to short-term memory. The seven plus or minus two idea seems to be incredibly accurate as to the number of "chunks" of information the memory can hold. I was curious as to why this limit exists and where it comes from? Also, how do things surpass their twenty-second stay in short-term memory and become long-term memories?
Name: Christine Farrenkopf
Date: Mon Apr 30 19:44:34 EDT 2001
I found an interesting article in "Science" on a recent research project on memory. The study demonstrated that new memories require new neurons - - an idea that opposes the old school of thought that the brains of adult mammals do not grow new neurons.
Scientists performed experiments on both normal rats and rats treated with a poison that kills growing cells (including neurons). The rats heard a sound and immediately after receieved a shock to the eyelid. The normal rats learned to blink upon hearing the sound. The rats treated with the poison, however, were less likely to blink depsite the hundreds of repetitions of the experiment. Such data led the scientists to conclude that new neurons are involved in the formation of new memories.
Another interesting article called "A Busy Brain is a Healthy Brain" summarizes a recent study on linking a lack of intellectual stimulation during midlife to Alzheimer's. It has been proposed that if one engages in intellectual activities (particularly in one's spare time), there may be a decreased risk of developing the disease.
Name: Elizabeth Gilbert
Date: Mon Apr 30 20:22:47 EDT 2001
I didn't read the article in Science that Christine mentioned but I was just thinking of some consequences of this research. If people do generate new neurons when they learn things does that mean that the formation of long term memories are really the formation of new neurons rather than the strengthening of connections of existing neurons? Then what is the loss of memory? Why is it that some things are easier to learn than others? For example, it took me the longest time to remember my new phone number this year even though I practiced rehearsal strategies that are supposed to reinforce new memories.
Perhaps in the future we can use this research on memory formation to generate more effective therapies for Alzhiemers. I have an elderly great aunt (age 87) who is currently in a nursing home dying of the disease. She used to be a quick witted retired lawyer just 8 years ago. Now she is as helpless as an infant. On the other hand, my grandmother is 86 years old and she reads the New York Times cover to cover everyday. What is it that allowed her to escape the disease that affects the majority of people by the age of 80? Did my grandmother generate new neurons while my aunt failed to do so? If so, why? After all, my aunt also used to read the paper also. But 8 years later she is in a nursing home while my grandmother maintains her independence in an apartment in New York City.
Name: euree choi
Date: Mon Apr 30 20:28:07 EDT 2001
Throughout the week, I was particularly interested in the role of the I-function on sleep. The EEG in the awake state and REM state of sleep are indeed very similar. We also deduced that the I-function is activated during these two stages of sleep. Because the I-function is activated, our brains tend to have the ability to control the waves that are recorded by means of EEG. This is evident since we are aware when we are awake and when we are dreaming. If the EEG generates mainly from the neocortex and the I-function has a large neocortical involvement, are organisms like frogs (that have no neocortex) able to dream? Where does the frog's EEG come from anyway to generate sleep patterns? Can frogs express fragments of stored memory through dreams?
Name: Irma Iskandar
Subject: Goggles and Behavior
Date: Mon Apr 30 21:14:14 EDT 2001
I read with interest Gwen Slaughter's response to Dr. Fredrick Shiffer's experiments regarding taped-on eyegoggles
and dramatic emotional responses from psychiatric patients. How conclusive are these reports, however?
Dr Schiffer reports that 40 percent of his patients had no response to the goggles, and 30 percent had a mild to
moderate response. However, another 30 percent of his patients report an intense response, overall about the same
response reported with Prozac. But even for the positive responders, the glasses do not seem to be and end all
cure for anything. Much research still needs to be done in order to make any positive conclusions. However, the
data does seem exciting, although people believe that one could do the experiments at home, using your hand to
block visual data except from the extreme right or left. It is still interesting to see how this works in the brain, and how
forcing light from looking out just one side activates the opposite side of the brain, and, therefore, triggers thoughts and
emotions specific to that side.
Name: Alice Goff
Subject: a new brain= new behavior
Date: Mon Apr 30 21:37:39 EDT 2001
A lot of things have changed since the "brain=behavior" assertion that I voted for at the beginning of the semester. Perhaps this is the time to lay out where it all sits after months of musing. I would not go as far as to say that I no longer am a brain=behavior advocate, but my understandings of both terms have changed drastically.
Now for the naïvete: at first I thought behavior refered to an action which the subject is aware of. Christopher Reeves disproved that pretty quickly. I'm still a little confused-- can we term behavior as all physical processes? Only action?
My whole perception of the I-function has greatly changed as well. At first I imagined it as something that is imbued in all our brain activity. It seems that as this course goes on, the I-function become smaller and smaller, and not only smaller but more and more inconsequential. So much is possible without the self being there. My questions remaining in this area are centered on how the I-function relates to conciousness. What we seem to have gathered from our discussion of sleep is that conciousness, in the sense of being awake, is independent of the I-function. We may dream, in which the I-function is involved, but not be concious. So not only is it difficult to locate a structure attached to the I-function, it is also becoming difficult to define it. Is awareness independent of the I-function also, as Avis asserted?
So although I still come down on the brain=behavior side, these terms have completely new meanings now. It seems that the brain has become bigger and the mind smaller.
Name: Nirupama Kumar
Subject: memory and other sundry items
Date: Mon Apr 30 21:41:20 EDT 2001
I find it very reassuring that there are definite chemical and neurological components for learning and memory. It kind of scares me that we only have a week left of this class. I certainly don't think we are going to make it all the way back to Emily. If anything, this class has just posed many more questions to me than answered them. But, I suppose that is what the goal is of exploring nature and life. Ultimately though, we have made a great start. There are so many different signs to explore if we want to understand how the nervous system and the I-function work, and to resolve the paradoxes seemingly present. That autistic people have amazing cognitive agility, normally attributed to the I-function, but without awareness of it. That our brain literally wakes up when we are in the deepest REM state of sleep. That we all seem to have free will, but our neural connections are dictated by chemical imperatives.
Subject: superkids :)
Date: Mon Apr 30 22:02:57 EDT 2001
In a recent issue of Time magazine, the feature story concerned the "production" of superkids...children who are geniuses in some respect or another. Irma's paper on the issue intrigued me, so this article was an interesting extension of her research...and it led me to wonder about the influence of factors such as playing (arts and crafts, or sports) on the intelligence/personality/intellectual curiousity of children. As many others have touched upon in their comments, the bringing together the various areas of the brain (right vs. left on a general scale, but also on a smaller scale--> sports in relation to self-confidence, for example) is an interesting phenomenon and one has to wonder to what extent the I-function is involved in these processes.....
As for the argument of Emily Dickinson...i think we have proved in a large sense that she is correct;the brain is greater than the "sky" (mind). We have seen that the I-function cannot control so many aspects of the neural processes, therefore the "mind" must be a part of the brain as a greater whole, and not the reverse (the I-function is a part of the nervous system--i think we're all agreed on that??). Maybe there is a larger discussion to this, but it's been a long day, so I'll try to think about it some more and present other ideas later....
Name: caroline ridgway
Subject: (last) weekly thoughts
Date: Mon Apr 30 22:26:21 EDT 2001
I have been reading "An Unquiet Mind," by Kay Redfield Jamison, chronicling her troubles with manic depression, both from the perspective of a long-term sufferer as well as a clinical psychiatrist. Manic depression as a disease is fascinating - alternating between totally extreme highs and lows, both utterly catastrophic for completely different reasons. It strikes me as relevant to a discussion on brain = behavior because it is a disease that responds most effectively to some combination of psychoanalytic and pharmacological treatment. Clearly there is a neurological component - the drug of choice, Lithium, can be spectacularly beneficial for some sufferers, though the difficulty comes in their resistance to taking the drug, thereby eliminating their undoubtedly enjoyable manic states. But this drug treatment needs to be balanced by a more "old-fashioned" mode of therapy. The drug effectively manipulates the brain's role in behavior, while the talk therapy does more for allowing the I, or whatever assumes the role of the I, to recognize the need for any treatment. Just one without some measure of the other does not as effectively eliminate the effects of bipolar. This also brings in the notion of personality. Manic depressives argue that on Lithium they are not "themselves," meaning they do not experience the highs that they thrive on, even if it also means they do not experience the alternating lows. In full treatment, patients are able to function in society as society deems appropriate, which is undoubtedly healthier for them and everyone around then. But it does beg the question - which person is the "real" them, the one in treatment, or the one lost in the manic cycle? The same argument can be applied to any mood or thoughts disorder for which pharmacological treatment of some kind is recommended. It eliminates the negative symptoms, but causes very fundamental changes in behavior and presented personality. Which state more accurately reflects the person being altered? What are the moral issues involved, despite what are perceived as clearly beneficial effects? The line is a little blurrier for things like ADHD than for manic depression, the latter being more destructive, the former being less clear in its diagnosis and course. Still, it is an interesting point to consider, and as a final aside, I highly recommend Jamison's book to anyone interested in psychology or anything even tangentially related. The look into the life of a manic depressive is intriguing, especially given her own status as a clinical psychiatrist.
Date: Mon Apr 30 22:27:18 EDT 2001
I have a lot of unresolved questions about the mechanisms of memory and the implications that pathologies in this arena have in deciphering the cryptic construction of personality. If memory is not located in a specific place in the brain, but rather delocalized into groups of interconnected neuronal pathways, then is there a limit to what one can learn? It seems that all evolutionary accomplishments find themselves pressed against physical roadblocks on occasion. There is, for example, an upper limit to the size a human body can attain before serious complications arise in its ability to function. Is memory, just as all physical processes, limited? It seems as if it should be, if brain=behavior. However, the argument may be utterly moot, because that hypothetical limit may far exceed one's ability to reach it. Hmm. . . that's a strange thought. Is there untapped potential within each of us that, altough bounded by fundamental physiological principles, is rendered inexploitable by other parts of the brain? Why would the brain do this, if it does?
Also, who are we if we have no memories? If, as has been asserted in class, certain personality traits are genetic, then those must be maintained even in the circumstance of amnesia. It seems that individuals with amnesia are the best examples one could find of the personhood=tabula rasa idea, although it is no longer a solid psychological and neurobiological theory. In essence, they have no experiences - who they are is dictated solely by whatever their genes encode. It would be interesting to examine people before and after acquiring amnesia to see how they change and what, if anything, remains unaltered in the process.
Name: Alexis Webb
Subject: Final Musings
Date: Mon Apr 30 22:42:25 EDT 2001
"If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts." ~Counting Crows~
So this is it. The last week of classes. Reading through what everyone had already posted I remembered this song, and one of my favorite lyrics. Are dreams and memories connected and how so? We have talked so much about the I-function and its role: the fact that the I-function is "located" in the neocortex, that the I-function is involved in dreaming. Not necessarily to control dreams, but as we kept asserting in class last week, to reflect upon what the nervous system is doing. Claire mentioned lucid dreaming; is this the I-function acting? I have often heard that all the characters in your dreams are supposed to be you (or versions of you). I suppose that this makes sense in terms of what we have been saying about self and the brain. My question is the location and relationship of memory to dreams.
Is the I-function involved in memory in the same way as it is involved in dreams? The processes of memory formation and recall... are they similar to dreaming? People often report remembering things that they missed while conscious in their dreams; does this signify any connections? I guess I haven't really returned back to Emily, but then, I think that it's much more fun to keep pushing beyond the black and white, asking bigger questions.
Subject: last week
Date: Mon Apr 30 23:07:41 EDT 2001
I think what really suprised me from last week was that personality and the I-function are separate, as suggested by dreams and sleepwalking. I think that opened up a lot more questions than it answered for me. I feel that an entire course could be devoted to any of the topics we've covered in the past few classes. This class has definitely changed my view of the brain. I used to think of every section of the brain as mainly controlling a single behavior. (ie- learning and memory happens only in the hippocampus) Now when I think of the brain it's a mess of neurons all connected to each other in a giant spider web. If anything, all of our discussion has made me question my stance on brain=behavior. If I've been incorrect and ignorant about so many things dealing with the brain what true reason do I have to believe brain=behavior and there is nothing else? It will be interesting to see what the grand finale of the course has to offer...
Date: Tue May 1 00:34:52 EDT 2001
I'd like to learn a bit more of the specifics as to where different types of memory lie. Why can some people lose long term rather than short term? Why do some remember emotions but not events? What are some respectable hypotheses as to the differences in these types of memory?
Also, since we like the frog so much, what do we know about animal memory? is it true that a fish forgets what it finds out every so-and-so amount of seconds? Why don't we work in the same way?
And one more question, though I'm sure it can't be answered... if memory is the firing of synapses, or even the growth of new connections, what do we think may be the coding process? Why do some people remember visual things easier than things spoken allowed, etc? Do you think that one day we'll be able to extract or at the least, find things in the brain that can be actual pictures and pieces of memories? Just how Specific Is the brain?
Subject: Know vs Remember
Date: Tue May 1 00:35:22 EDT 2001
RE: Sarah's comments about the seeming inconsistency of the amnesiacs' knowledge of his own injury. I didnt see the movie, but from what I remember in Cognition (psych class) about memory and amnesia concerns a famous real case, HM, who had the kind of injury you describe in the movie. His short term memory was spared, and he had memory of life before the accident, but his ability to encode NEW long term memories was shot. The interesting thing, though, is that when Kennedy was shot (which occured after his memory loss) HM DID remember that. Which some people have argued might support the notion of a special kind of "flashbulb memory" (where memories of extrememly traumatic events are encoded differently than others. Maybe this could explain the movie charecter's memory of his own trauma.
another explanation of his injury sort of gets at what Dan was mulling over, the difference between "to know" and "to remember," or, implicit vs explicit memory. HM was tested over and over for years without any evidence of his being able to make new long term memores...until they stopped asking him in ways that required explicit memory of a thing. If they asked something like "what was the weather like yesterday" they'd get nothing. but if they tested in ways that elicited an implicit knowledge, there was some success.
and Dan, I think this is maybe starts to get at the "I dont remember how I know, I just know." Another way to conceptualize it: episodic vs semantic knowledge. Episodic knowledge has all of the contextual tags on it (ie, we remember how we came to know it) whereas semantic knowledge is more general. we know 7x7 is 49, though we dont remember the exact time or circumstances under which we remember it.
Ive been interested in this becuase it gets at interesting patterns of memory errors. Semantic memory is less vulnerable to reconstructive errors, whereas episodic memory is quite vulnerable to them.
Name: karen munoz
Date: Tue May 1 01:48:28 EDT 2001
my posting will be kind of unrelated to the other comments of the forum, so
i apologize. but i'm writing a paper on Jung's theory of synchronicity.
about how "meaningful coincidences" occur all of the time. for example, you
think of your friend calling, and then they call. we try and rationalize
this as "just a coincidence." Jung, however, talked about a "universal
unconscious" and about how sometimes when you are connected to someone, you
both tap into this unconscious and have moments like the one above. i mean,
we've all had this sort of experience before. if we think about it, the
idea of a "universal unconscious" doesn't make sense. we can explain it all
sorts of ways--maybe the friend had had an encounter with the other friend
and unconsciously implied she needed a phone call later or something. but
what if there is a "universal unconscious," something that we can tap into?
what implications does this have on our behavior and how much of the world
we really understand? it's so very "unscientific" and "out there." but i
can't help but think about its existence. it's hard not to think that it
might exist since so many philosphers have postulated its existence--Plato
with the world soul, Hegel with the zeit geist. just something to think
about next time you have a "meaningle
Name: Caitlin Costello
Date: Tue May 1 02:34:34 EDT 2001
To the question, "What's STILL missing if we take the
brain=behavior idea seriously?" I would say that what's missing is an examination of alternative ideas to brain=behavior. I was not sure I fully believed in brain=behavior when it was first introduces, and I'm still not completely convinced by it. Like someone else's posting said, it seems like in this class we mostly find out that we were wrong in our conceptions of different aspects of the brain and behavior, so why aren't we wrong about this one too? Every time we encounter an aspect of behavior we don't understand, or a facet of ourselves we have not yet accounted for, be it memory or emotion or whatever, we struggle to make it fit into brain=behavior rather than adapting our model to fit the new information, or considering a shift in paradigm to a different model entirely. It seems like the method we have been using of striving for each successive step in developing a picture of the brain to be "less wrong" than the last, which I think is a really good way to try to come to an understanding of behavior or anything for that matter, would require us to consider the possibility that at some step sticking with brain=behavior might lead us to be more wrong, not less wrong, than before. I'm not saying I think brain=behavior is wrong, because I don't have an alternative explanation, just that we should remain open to the possibility of an alternative way of being "less wrong."
Name: rachel kahn
Date: Tue May 1 02:41:42 EDT 2001
i can't decide if we've made it back to emily. the idea that emotion, for example, arises outside of the i-function and is simply modified to some extent by it, intrigues me. This would mean that emily is right -- the brain is larger than the mind. things which our brains are capable of producing can only be, at the most, suppressed by the mind. and even suppressed emotions usually find some outlet, suggesting that the brain is ultimately more powerful than the mind. but what about feelings that seem to arise outside the brain? "psychosomatic" disorders. here seems to be an example of the mind being larger than the brain. are people really able to make their brains feel something that isn't there? and what does it mean for something to be "there?" a neurologist that i once did some work for told me that many of his patients were "non-epileptics" meaning that they were consciously bringing on their seizures. in the beginning, he could distinguish the non-epileptics from the epileptics because their EEG's were normal. However, eventually some seemed to have actual epileptic seizure recordings on the EEG. were they capable of using their i-functions to change the overall neuronal activity pattern of their neocortex?
Subject: the brain
Date: Tue May 1 08:27:43 EDT 2001
I think its interesting that now that we're reaching the end of class, everybody is really starting to question their brain=behavior stance. I know as this course has progressed I've found myself more and more (unwillingly) convinced that brain does =behavior, so to hear someone who was always sure of this now start to question themselves just makes me realize how many indefinates there are to both sides. I do think that no matter what you believe in this case, one thing that we've learned in class is that the brain is tons bigger than we ever thought in terms of function and processes. I still don't know which side I fall on - oh well, got 'till Thurseday to figure it out, huh?
The one sort of mini-breakthrough I've had in class recently is with our topic of understanding. I've been taking one language or another since I was thirteen, but untill I was a freshman in college, I was always very bad at them. Then all of a sudden, something 'clicked' and became very good. I always thought of it as ME taking a long time to understand the way language works, but to think that it was MY BRAIN that needed the time to work it out not only makes sense, but makes me look at the situation in a whole new light. It's an explanation for the lightbulb that suddenly comes on inside your head. I never considered this to be the case - I don't know why, I just never thought about it. But it does make the brain seem more like a computer or machine than it did before. I don't know - it's definately funny to be sitting here trying to understand understanding. You could probably devote a whole semester just to that.
Date: Tue May 1 09:47:32 EDT 2001
How exciting it is to get perhaps closer to understanding the 'I' function.The suggestions by Dr. Grobstein that it is probably a discrete population of interneurons located in the neocortex is exciting; the idea that it can be turned on and off, that it functions as an audience, an interpreter of the signs, symbols,sensations, creations, memories, gut feelings...etc. provided by the rest of the nervous system--And that it is regulated or influenced by the emotions and innate and environmentally affected personality rather than having these intergral. Now I would like to know about the hypothesized organization of these neurons and the evolution of the 'I'.
There was an article today in the New York Times about the dolphin and what seems to be its ability to also be self aware. Brainy Dolphins Pass the Human "Mirror" Test.
It is the only other animal we know of besides primates that seem to have self awareness. There is no frontal lobe in the dolphin's neocortex so it could be an example of convergent evolution.
Name: Matt Fisher
Subject: completely random
Date: Tue May 1 12:29:05 EDT 2001
For my last posting I have some random thoughts that have been floating around my head. Withn all of our discussion about dreams and sleep and consciousness I want to know where the feeling of deja vu comes from. I experience this a lot and it is unsettling sometimes. I will do something and all the words, actions, settings, etc. will be very familiar. How does the brain do this? Can it predict the future or is it an imaginary thing made up by the brain to fool the I-function? I do not know which of these are true because i can remember the original fantasy sequence and then be aware of the real sequence beginning.
I still feel like we do not know what the I-function does. Each class we eliminate another element of what I thought it controlled. Does the I-function control anything at all? Or is it just a piece of the brain that is fooled a lot and seems to impede processes? What is its purpose if any in a person's life?
These are my last thoughts for the class. It has been interesting and a lot of mysteries have been explained while presenting even more new ones than I thought were there.
Subject: Memory and Personality
Date: Tue May 1 19:47:23 EDT 2001
Memory fascinates me very much. I feel that memory is the basis of all cognitive functions and that without memory we would not be able to build our nervous system. What fascinates me the most about memory is it's effect on personality. I did some research and found an interesting study. Although I was only able to find an abstract of the study it did give me some more insight about the relationship between memory and personality. The objective of the study was to evaluate the relationship between objectively measured memory functions and subjective complaints of memory disturbance and whether subjective complaints are affected by some personality traits or affective states. The results of the study indicated that complaints of memory loss did not correlate with the actual memory performance in the tests. The subjects who most emphatically complained of memory disturbance had greater tendencies toward somatic complaining, higher feelings of anxiety about their physical health, and more negative feelings of their own competence and capabilities than those who did not complain of memory deterioration associated with aging. Therefore the study suggests that subjective feelings of memory impairment are more closely associated with personality traits than with actual memory performance in normal elderly people.
Well what does this mean? That we don't actually lose our memory- that it's "all in our head"? This is very suprising to read. Does our memory ever fade? Or is it just a case of not being able to recall stored information? These are just some questions I am left with . . .
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