Biology 202
Neurobiology and Behavior
Spring 2003

Forum Archive - Week 11

On women, choice, free will, control ....


Name:  Kate
Username:  kaleishi@hotmail.com
Subject:  women aren't so stupid, you know
Date:  2003-04-08 13:14:36
Message Id:  5323
Comments:
I find it very ironic that in class today we all managed to criticize our culture for its need to control, and in almost the same breath to criticize women for admitting to a certain lack of control over the words they use to express their thoughts in informal discourses. I do agree that at times we are too willing to concede the control...like in the example with the tennis game and all the apologies. And I'm sure that this is to some degree a value that is reinforced by our culture and limits women. Girls should always give in, that kind of thing. But I also do not think that we should so quickly dismiss the possible value to a trait that may be, if Prof. Grobstein's example about his children is to be believed, a beneficial evolutionary trait acquired by our half of the species.

Take the example of the word "like" we used earlier. Again, girls have been shown to use it more frequently. When I say, "There are like 5 paths I could take," I mean exactly what I said. I'm expressing my thought in the best words possible. There may be five paths I could take, possibly more or less. I could say "there are several paths I could take", or "there are many paths I could take," but I don't mean quite that. I think there are probably five. Maybe not, but that's what it seems like to me. I, of course, could say, "about 5 paths." That is closer. But it expresses more doubt, I think. "Like" leaves room for the word to be exact, even if it might not be. This use of the word serves a function in our language that to me seems very obvious and necessary, but it is in fact a very new use of the word.

In certain subcultures even in America girls may not use this word, and many guys also use this word. I understand those things. But the fact that its creation arose from a female population, and that it is still used more frequently by the female population still has certain implications about the way the female mind may work.

Why wasn't a word such as this in the lexicon before? It seems to me that the word is not always or even often used when a person is ignorant of their own thoughts, but when they are aware that a certain word may not express their meaning completely. They are in fact admitting a certain amount of inability to control, but it may be the result of the limitations of language rather than the speaker. Or maybe the word they want is out there, they just don't know it. But does this mean that all men have larger vocabularies than all women? I don't think so. The fact that a speaker is aware of the possible ambiguities of what they are saying and can express this seems to me an intelligent sense. They get across more than they might if they attemped to be definite. In class we've learned we must be wrong all the time, it is a good thing. Maybe girls tend to be more comfortable with this. We were quite willing to criticize ourselves in class.

I agree that women should overcome the stereotypes that exist within our culture and learn to be more assertive,and that many women let others walk all over them. Perhaps men have taken advantage of our natural inclinations for a certain passivity (although I do not think that is the right word) throughout history. But while we are attemping to overcome the "passivity" that we detest about our femaleness, I hope we do not lose the thoughtfulness we possess, and feel free to throw in a "like" or two if it is helpful, even in a room full of men.


Name:  priya
Username:  praghava@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  consciousness
Date:  2003-04-08 19:51:56
Message Id:  5330
Comments:
The class discussion on consciousness and its relation to the brain was very interesting. I believe there is a strong correlation between consciousness and brain processes. I also believe that the former, if you will, is evident in the patterns of biological evolution. While lower level organisms like fish and insects may act or live on minimal consciousness and maximum instinct, higher level organisms like apes and humans have the added neurological capabilities that expand the boundaries of consciousness.

Not all species or specimens within the same species experience consciousness the same way. For example, in a football game, the same rules apply to all players but the individual players may or may not choose to abide by those set rules. In this case, there is a co-existence of a) one neurological process corresponding to a universally accepted state of consciousness and b) the individual, with his/her varying personal consciousness. How can we explain this dualism? Why did that one player not abide by the game rules? I can agree that consciousness is a property of the neuronal interactions. Perhaps, memory, visual perceptions, learning, and time and space all form components that constitute this so-called consciousness.

However, I still find the explanation/definition of it vague. Sometimes I wonder why we probe so much into the brain to find every single explanation for an occurrence. As of now, I believe consciousness exists within us. But whether it is something that's reducible to studying the brain processes or if it is something that is caused by the brain processes is still ambiguous. At this stage, I feel what we know about the functioning of the brain does not give us enough assurance or hints to distinguish which brain processes serve as consciousness and which ones do not. Consciousness to me is in this indecisive phase- it is the source of unusual and unpredictable events that have not been registered in the brains as unconscious actions of knowledge; events that are yet to be coded in to our genetic memory. It is also one of the reasons that makes us so unique to the rest of the biological species.



Name:  nicole
Username:  njackman@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Pleurobranchea: Bad choice for study of choice
Date:  2003-04-08 21:09:47
Message Id:  5333
Comments:
I am uncomfortable with our discussion of choice in class today. It seems that we were basically re-naming a behavior a choice. This is problematic because I don't think the 2 are equivalent. And what is a choice anyway? What does it mean to make a choice? Do we really make a choice, is it something that happens between the thought of initiating a behavior and making that behavior, or is it something we use to explain our behavior after the fact?

Additionally, I don't think that the pleurobranchea is the most useful model for the study of choice. When the pleurobranchea is chewing and is poked, it makes no response. However, if it is just moving around and is poked then it retracts the proboscis. In this model we are defining the stimulus or input as the poke, but I don't believe that it is that simple. Our current definition of input seems a bit restrictive. The input is the poke in the presence or absence of other sensory input (sensations from the mouth while it is eating). If we simplify things a bit, the pleurobranchea retracts the proboscis when it receives only sensory input from the poke, but when it is receiving input from the poke and from its mouth it doesn't retract the proboscis. I think that the inputs that the animal is receiving in both cases are very different. Each input leads to two mutually exclusive responses. Therefore, the animal cannot make a choice.

Researchers have done similar conditioning studies in psychology. I'm not sure exactly what the procedure would be called, but one thing that is similar to it is called occasion setting. It seems that an occasion setting procedure might be a more reasonable account of choice behavior in animals. In an occasion setting procedure you have at least 2 types of trials: (1) Stimulus B (let's say white noise) is presented in the presence of Stimulus A (light) and after a certain amount of time, the rat will receive a food pellet. (2) Stimulus A (light) goes on and after the same duration has passed, no food is delivered to the rat. After repeated trials the rat learns that when A and B are presented together it will get food, and that when A is presented alone that it won't get food. This learning shapes the rat's behavior and the learning theory asserts that when both stimuli are presented the rat anticipates the delivery of food and starts to respond (by pressing a lever). When the light is presented alone, it knows that food will not be delivered and will therefore not make a response.

The main question is: will the rat always make the same choice? The answer is no. While the rat often makes responses when it expects the delivery of food it can and does respond at other times. So yes, the rat is capable of making a choice. In this experiment I would not say that the light is the only stimulus used by the rat to "make the decision". However, the rat responds with the highest frequency when the light and noise are both on.

And on another note, it seems like you can also discuss choice using the phenomenon of habituation and sensitization. I don't know what Professor Grobstein would say about this situation, but I do not think that the animal would "make a choice". After repeated presentations the meaning of the stimulus may be lost, which would influence behavior. But I won't babble anymore on this subject unless it continues to be addressed in the forum.


Name:  
Username:  imoissiu@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-04-09 02:48:33
Message Id:  5336
Comments:
Here is an interesting thought. If women were so unsure about their opinions, or if they want to leave room for uncertainty, then why is it that when they write an email or a paper they don't sprinkle the paper with the word "like".

I have a few friends who use the word "like",... a lot!!! However when they write an email they don't use it. I think that it is the inability of the person to express themselves concisely. Maybe they just can't piece together an answer faster than they can speak; so they give themselves extra time by inserting this word. Maybe the fact that they are unsure of themselves plays an important role, but of for the most part,... they just can't piece together complete sentences without using the word "like". They can't control it.

I used to use the word myself until I got a really nasty comment from someone (called me a bimbo for speaking that way). So I made it a point to stop saying it. Now I rarely use it but I am finding that people are criticizing me for the same reasons Sarah was/is criticized. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. However, control is very important in our society. I would rather have people think I am too assertive than be unable to control my speech.


Name:  Grace Shin
Username:  gshin@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  lack of self control
Date:  2003-04-09 23:14:45
Message Id:  5341
Comments:
I really enjoyed reading the comments made by everyone so far. However, talking about lack of self control... many people seemed to be offended almost by what some people are saying. I hope that's not the case because everyone is supposed to put in their opinions. Much of the problem that seems to be discussed is due to the fact that we all keep trying to generalize people (and even relate people to animals...) but the truth is, we are all different and same at the same time. Some guys say "like" alot while some girls never say it. We really just can't generalize and say that using the word "like" always shows something about the person's assurance or lack there of. Yes, much of it is our culture but there is more to a person than just culture (i'm sure we can all agree).

My conclusion for tuesday's discussion is that everyone trying to generalize this way and disagreeing with people, etc just shows once again how many people just try to take control over all or many issues in our lives. I thought it was interesting when in class, PG asked "Who wants to be in total control?" i was not alone in raising my hand saying that i do NOT want to be in total control. The direction of the discussions sometimes makes me feel like everyone wants to be always in control. But I don't... =)

So is lack of self control an issue? Maybe, if this makes you do things you do not want to do, from simple issues like peeing in your pants or on a graver note raping people. However, as humans, we learn from our mistakes and being in total control always will make us... gods. Besides, if there is full control always, life just wouldn't be as exciting.


Name:  Marissa
Username:  mlitman@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  unfamiliar actions
Date:  2003-04-10 01:42:39
Message Id:  5343
Comments:
After the discussion in class on Tuesday, I have thought a lot about my personal awareness of my body. For apporximately the hour or so after class, I was picking up on as many actions my body made as possible and becoming aware of them. Though I recognize that most of these actions were noticed as an afterthought,however I personally, beyojd driving myself crazy also noticed that I am fairly often of a lot of my movements that I did except to be so aware of. For example, I am left handed, but do most basic things (except writing) with my right hand. The focus of most things tends to fall on the right side of my body and I have always felt more in tune with my right side as well. This got me thinking about when Prof. Grobstein had us instanteously raise our hands in class. Most everyone agreed that they didn't consider what they were about to do before they raised their arm in the air, however I definately did. Though typically I should have shot up my left arm cause it was the one with focus on it already having pen in its hand, but instead I had a quick brainflash that told be to use my right arm because it feels more comfortable. I wonder if this is conditioning, or that perhaps my automatic reactions take one more connection to complete?
Name:  Patty
Username:  ppalermo@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Other standpoints?
Date:  2003-04-10 05:39:38
Message Id:  5344
Comments:
In respect to what Kate has spoken about in the forum, I also wonder what control is to someone who is not a woman and who is not American. Being both, I can not imagine this, but I find that your concept of control plays a huge part in what we are willing to conceive of our own body and awareness (or lack there of.) I find that I am extremely reluctant to admit that certain things I do are done completely without thought. I feel like there must be a place in my mind that I am less conscious of, but that is still a part of my thought, as it is making these split second decisions for me. However, at the same time, I am not a firm believer in free will, which I would expect to make me more comfortable with the idea that my "I-function" may control less than I think it does. These most recent class discussions have made me realize, or at least hypothesize, why different countries handle the sciences very differently. Although many questions in science have very unwavering supports, much of scientific exploration and application is integrated into our social and philosophical comfort levels. I find topics such as "free will" and "control" to be most interesting because I feel people of different societies would contribute to our class discussions in a very different way.
Name:  Shanti
Username:  smikkili@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-04-13 00:46:14
Message Id:  5358
Comments:
I find it very interesting that while we all can admit that we may be a culture that is overly obsessed with control, when we are all asked if we can make choices without thinking or unconscious decisions, we so fervently insist that when we are asked to raise a hand, that we had time to think about which hand to pick. While it seems obvious that we would in most cases, think about our actions and behavior, and in most cases to a greater degree than is neccessary, i think that it is equally obvious that there are times that we make unconscious decisions as well. I had brought up the example that when you are sleeping and your alarm clock goes off, you turn it off and later, in the morning, you realize that you're late because you forgot to turn it off. Someone had said that it isn't that you didn't think about it, but that you don't remember thinking about it. However, I really don't think that you wake up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning and actually spend time thinking about whether or not to turn your alarm clock off. If anything, that is counter productive. If you were thinking about turning it off, then you would have realized that you turned it on for a reason in the first place, and that reason is that you have to get up. Therefore, you would have realized that the best thing to do would be to leave it alone and get up. You have previously thought about it and decided that the best thing to do would be to set it. If you still turned it off, doesn't that mean that maybe you turning it off wasn't thought about? I feel like this should be fairly obvious. Yes we all like to be in control and think that we think about everysingle action. But is that possible, and more to the point, isn't it a waste of time? We can't all think about everything no more than we can control everything. If we thought about every action, then how come there are times we say" i didn't think about that" or "I wish i had thought about that" the truth is that we don't think about everything and if we did maybe we wouldn't as people have so many regrets. Also, if we think about everything, i'd like to bring up the point about accountability. barring a brain disorder, if people think about everything and every action, then shouldn't they be held accountable for their actions? Then shouldn't a killer be held accountable for his actions as well. Since we believe that we are in control, than that means that we know what we are doing since we've thought about it. Maybe we need to think about what this means and the resulting implications.
Name:  Clare
Username:  csmiga@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-04-13 13:41:07
Message Id:  5359
Comments:
In response to the discussion about women being less assertive in conversation and using "like" more than others, I agree with the first comment from Kate that although this may be true, why does this have to always necessarily be a bad thing? Why does allowing room for suggestion have to be looked down upon? In fact, we have learned in this class that you cannot ever prove anything and that there are many different ways to look at issues and that often there is neither a right or wrong answer but a difference in opinion. Moreover, I have always been able to have better discussions with people that are not concretely set in their ways but are willing to see things from another side. People who state and argue their opinion as if it were the only one that is right I have found difficult to discuss with because they are not willing to learn new ideas or change. I am not saying that women are one way or men are another, I am just saying that I think there is value in allowing leeway and that it does not necessarily mean that you are any less confident or strong in your beliefs. I think that this is an even stronger quality because you recognize that this is just one opinion among many and you are willing to learn what these other opinions are and possibly alter yours if necessary.
Also, in response to Shanti's comment, I do agree that it is possible that people are hesitant to say they did not have control over something because that want to believe that they did. However, I don't think it's fair to flat out dismiss what people have said they have control over just because you may not. I know that I wake up to my alarm and consciously turn it off practically every morning. I even quickly calculate how many more times I have to hit the snooze button before I actually have to get up. Then I go back to sleep. In my opinion, people who hit the snooze without realizing it are not getting enough sleep and probably do not completely wake up when they hear their alarm.
Name:  Nia Turner
Username:  nturner@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Spirituality, Language, and the Experience of Pain
Date:  2003-04-13 22:24:06
Message Id:  5361
Comments:
I am interested in the relationship between pain, language, and spirituality, and as a result I explored the internet for further information. Dr. Nathan Koller suggest that pain is the language that our bodies use to express that a significant change is occurring. What would life be like if pain were absent from the human experience, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental? Furthermore, there seems to be a connection between spirituality and pain. Researchers at Georgetown University School of Medicine found, that 80% of studies suggest that spiritual or religious beliefs have a beneficial effect on health. Spirituality appears to provide hope which in some cases could be a contributing factor in healing. Dr.Francis J. Keefe suggest, "understanding the daily spiritual and religious experiences of patients is an important key to understanding their experience of their disease." My perspective of Science in general has been, that it lacks a connection to spirituality. It appears to me that in many cases scientists do not acknowledge or intergrate spirituality into research or methodology. What would science be if pain and spirituality were used as teachers?
Name:  Zunera
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Burping, Repression, and Control
Date:  2003-04-13 23:07:16
Message Id:  5362
Comments:
I believe we are NOT in control of every little thing in our lives. Is that such a bad thing? If I had to think about everything, to remember to blink, open my eyes, "oh Zunera, your food is digested you should go to the bathroom now," your tired-sleep, move your thumb and finger together to hold the pen... I would go insane.

Yes, we are conscious animals. We have "superior" brain capabilities. Or do we? I mean, I agree with Neela- we all might just be under the "illusion that we are somehow special primarily due to our "superior" brain abilities" (Neela). This whole needing to be in control and having free will could be due to a combination of factors. For one thing, I feel that the United States places a lot of importance on independence and self-sufficiency...in that independence and self-sufficiency could be equivalent to free will and control.

However, other countries do not hold these values on the same pedestal. Instead, staying close to family, helping with the care of the elderly and the youngest, and being reliant on one another are ways of living. Does this make those societies incapable of free will? Is that why whenever we see women at home, bearing children, helping their elders, all "against their will" in other countries where women are likely to stay home, where they feel that having a reliability on another human is not such a crime, we cry, "repression!"

Our views can be due to social conditioning. Society determines just how much importance should be placed on self-action and control. Some countries/societies find burping at the table rude. In other places, or in other families, burping at the table is sign of appreciation- that the food is delicious. Therefore, "controlling" a normal body function, such as burping, would not be seen as a positive or desired characteristic.

Free will (as an idea) and control (in general) can take on many forms. Our idea, the one fed into our minds by our government and society is just one way free will can be expressed.

Second, some people just feel the need to put themselves above "other animals"—justify their standing and hierarchy over all other organisms. If there is any doubt shed on "free will" and "consciousness" there is a whole group of adamant protestors. To some degree, all animals have an ability to make a choice, to be in "control" to exert "free will." We are just seemingly able to make a variety of choices at one given time.


Name:  Alanna
Username:  ajalbano@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  corollary discharge and such
Date:  2003-04-14 00:05:10
Message Id:  5363
Comments:
I was recently contemplating corollary discharge and the issue of whether or not we have to think in order to actually make a choice. I think that memory plays a significant role in this issue. For example, what about responding to an emergency, like a fire alarm? Do we respond to such without thinking b/c we are used to the memory of past fire drills when we learned over and over how one was expected to respond to a fire drill, or just b/c it is merely an instinctive response to the sound of the alarm? What if we didn't have the memory of those past fire drills? How then would we respond "without thinking"?

Also, it was said in class that corollary discharge circuits do help to account for the idea that Choice does not equal Free Will. I do not agree with that. Aren't choice and free will the SAME thing? Doesn't the very definition of free will mean the ABILITY to CHOOSE one thing over another?


Name:  priya
Username:  praghava@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  determinism and free will
Date:  2003-04-14 15:25:47
Message Id:  5366
Comments:
This goes along Alanna's last comment...I think we can look at "free will" through several angles. First of all, what is the most convincing definition of free will? If we split the word into two, then we get- "free" and "will". The will is the power that we have to bring ourseleves to action and the "free" or freedom is the power to act or not act as the will decides. Does this mean that there is no such thing as a "free will" when there are alternatives to a single action?

If "free will" does exist, then I think there are definite obstacles that can confuse us about the existence of free will. One that comes to my mind is that of determinism. We often hear and use the Sanskrit word, "Karma" in our daily conversations. Having taken Hindu philosophy classes for years, my understanding of Karma is- the law that all good and evil is a natural consequence of choices in the previous incarnation. "Karma is simply the hand one is dealt; one can play it badly or well." There is essentially a cause-effect relationship. The question to ask ourseleves is whether we have the free will to determine our future or whether our future is already consciously or unconsciously determined?

I feel like free will isnt some kind of loose term that is given to us from an external source but rather a concept that is built into our system internally. I think we have a blend between determinism and free will. Our past is unalterable but our future lies in the action of our choices.

I am not sure if free will and freedom of action are one of the same things. For example, a paralyzed person cannot move his/her limbs. The free will in this case is in trying to (or not) move his/her limb. Here, isnt our free will restricted by an action that has already been determined? From a determinist approach, one can argue that our perceptions, emotional, and cognitive processes are all results from our past experiences, which inevitably guide our future choices. So although, you have the power to choose between a mango and pineapple milkshake, your past experiences of having an allergic reaction to the pineapple one, may lead you to choose the mango one. In this case, do we experience a free will or an already determined action?


Name:  Annabella
Username:  arutigli@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  a house for free will
Date:  2003-04-14 21:49:26
Message Id:  5371
Comments:
I find the question that Priya suggests, whether free will and freedom of action are the same thing, to be very interesting. At first glance it seems as if free will and freedom of action are one and the same. However, freedom of action can be separated into two very different types of 'action.' For example, there is the freedom to move a body part, and the freedom to speak a thought. Can both of these actions (mental and physical) be categorized under the mantel of free will? If we say yes, then is it possible for our choice to think to be paralyzed like a leg can? Is this, maybe, what a coma patient is experiencing, a paralysis of the mind? Can they then be rehabilitated through therapy like Christopher Reeves?

A coma patient is fully functional on a physical level, but not 'awake' on a mental level. Just as a paralysis patient is physically incapable, but mentally conscious. If we are looking for a place that free will is housed, could this indicate that the brain is the place for it? Or is there even a physical place that free will can be found? Many a time free will is an amorphous aspect of the soul. If we give it a physical presence will free will still be free, or prey to the biological functions of the human body?


Name:  Alexandra
Username:  alippman@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Control and awareness
Date:  2003-04-14 21:52:56
Message Id:  5372
Comments:
While I do not want to have self-control at all times, it is important that we take the time occasionally to realize and think about our actions. Although thinking about all behavior all the time before enacting it would be ultimately paralyzing and even ridiculous, an increased consciousness of our actions seems like it would lend more significance and meaning to our behavior.
Although most of us cannot be bothered to actually think about all of the movements that are involved in walking, coming closer to this knowledge seems like it would lend more significance to the act of walking (even while done thoughtlessly). Although I myself have not truly experimented in "controlled walking," I can imagine a little what it must be like. In a comparative religion class I took in high school, we watched a movie about Buddhism, which ended with a long-shot of Theravadin monk walking ever-so slowly across part of a temple. He seemed to be aware of every movement he made, and through this extreme self-control, it seemed as if he must have gained the knowledge of what it truly is to walk.
At the high-pace of our lives moving always with the awareness of that monk would be hugely inconvenient. Still, it seems important that, even if we act thoughtlessly or out of habit, we are more aware of the meaning, or essence, of our actions. Thus trying what it must be like to enact a behavior or action in a more controlled manner at least once would translate into the knowledge of the significance of that action even when performed perfunctorily.
Name:  Amelia
Username:  aturnbul@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-04-14 22:43:07
Message Id:  5376
Comments:
I've been thinking about free will, and I think that a certain amount of what constitutes free will is the fact that we are consciously aware of our actions and can consciously consider the consequences of our actions. While we may not think about what hand we're going to raise when we're asked to do so, we are definately going to think about, or should think about, larger decisions in life, such as where we're going to go to college or if we're going to marry someone.

Also, in thinking about Alanna's example of the fire drill, I would think that our response of leaving a building when a fire alarm sounds is a conditioned response. All the times in the past that we have heard a fire alarm, we have responded by leaving the building. So, when we hear a fire alarm being sounded, we automatically leave because that is the behavior we have been trained to respond with.


Name:  Rachel
Username:  rsinger@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  self-control
Date:  2003-04-14 22:43:37
Message Id:  5377
Comments:
I agree with the idea that it is impossible, even ridiculous, to exert self-control regarding our actions all of the time. I am typing this email in the forum, and since the current discussion topic is self-control, I happen to be thinking, "Yes, my fingers are typing on my keyboard". However, I have actually never thought this when typing in the forum area before - it would be absolutely silly to do so - has anyone else actually thought about the action of their fingers while typing in the forum? ;)

When we are in class, we raise our hands, yet do not take the time to think "perhaps I am bending my elbow too much in the hand-raising process?", and frequently we raise our hands without thinking that we are doing so (we instinctively do so because we have a question or intelligent comment to make). However, the hand-raising example can demonstrate that some self-control is crucial to our proper functioning (for example, we must control the height of our hand, i.e., raise it high enough, so that the professor can see it in order to answer our question)


Name:  Michelle Coleman
Username:  mcoleman@haverford.edu
Subject:  Fillers
Date:  2003-04-14 23:34:25
Message Id:  5380
Comments:
The idea of women using fillers as a method for pacifying their commentary was one that I have often considered. Though the common usage of the word "like" seems to be more a part of a popular mainstream culture. In thinking of just why we find these commonly occurring fillers in speech, I was forced to consider the idea of interactional synchrony, something that most of us do. For instance, I often find myself asking my listeners "Do you know what I mean?". It seems at times that I am looking for some sort of approval from them. Or, I might be expressing a form of courtesy. Maybe, these periods of fillers are courteous opportunities for the listener to interject smoothly without interrupting a thought that is trying to be expressed. Maybe the whole concept of self-control does not apply to this type of instance at all.
Name:  tung
Username:  tnnguyen@hc
Subject:  Corollary Discharge, Free will, and Control
Date:  2003-04-15 03:12:12
Message Id:  5390
Comments:
After reading everyone comments, it seems to me that everyone is pulled into different directions in regard to free will, corollary discharge (no choice), and control. It seems to me that there is a point where these three topics converge. Please excuse me as I try to make sense out of this and hopefully my English will not be in the way.

The brief exposure to corollary discharge has significantly improved my understanding of the functioning of the brain. Its amazing to realize that not only does the nervous system, particularly the brain, set up a network of connections (between neurons) that enable it to communicate far without the boundary of the body but it also creates a structural framework within to relay messages from part of the nervous sytem to the other. Thus, the notion of corollary discharge brings to mind the autonomic activity as evidence in the example of the pleurobranchea (sensory stimuli is inhibited once the pleurobranchea is feeding). This idea imply that some of our actions are automatic without any conscious choosing. For instance, in the example of the hand raising. I think that it is mostly automatic requiring no conscious choosing. Why? Well like what Prof. Grobstein said, the reaction is simply too fast to require any thinking. However, this does not imply that hand raising is all automatic. For some people, depending on the condition and circumstances of the moment (ie, the position of the arm or the condition of the hand --like holding something) there may be some thinking behind the hand raising. Here, I see as Prof. Grobstein had introduced a struggle between the I function and the rest of the nervous system to be in control.

Thus, the issue of control is raised. If corollary discharge part of the NS is in charge then there is no choice or free will; rather, the reaction or behavior is autonomic. However, if the I function is the one in charge then there some sense of choice and free will. I know that there are exceptions to this but to generalize, are these observations make sense so far? If so we can continue further...

Therefore, it seems to me that by saying that in striving to be in control, we really want our I function to be in charge of the behaviors we used as examples in class to discuss about choice and free will (like burbing). Can we all agree that in some situations by having to choose our behaviors, danger is inevitable? Such situations are emergency circumstances in which the difference between life and death is within seconds. Thus, our nervous system was built in such a way that this is taken into consideration. So assuming that the person doesnt want to die, when it comes to survival I think that free will and choice become less important. However, we know that free will exists. So is there a defining line between what we can choose and what we cant? I think that at some point there is overlapping, and here is where we want our I function to be more and more in control. What does everyone think?


Name:  Zunera
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  The "I Can't Sleep, so I might as well Post" Post
Date:  2003-04-17 04:12:46
Message Id:  5432
Comments:
What definition of free will are we looking at? Free will can also mean, "done willingly rather than by compulsion" (Encarta, 2001). If this is true, then how does choice play a role (in this definition of free will)? If one is doing something willingly...suggesting a CHOICE could have already been created, is he/she is just going happily going along with the choice already made/created for them (by someone else, nature, environment, etc), rather than being coerced and strong-armed into an action/behavior, etc that they do not agree with? Or, does willingly mean that because the person made the choice by themselves, he/she will be more likely to follow through, than if someone else made a choice for them?

I know we discussed that corollary discharge circuits are support for the idea that Choice does not equal Free Will, but I'm just not sure where I stand on this, especially if Free Will is only supposed to mean the act of making choices as an autonomous being.

Also, where does predestination fit into this model? Do we even believe/agree that it exist?

Maybe I'm reading into this too much...it is 4 am...


Name:  Laurel
Username:  ljackson@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-04-17 14:51:16
Message Id:  5436
Comments:
This site describes a new surgical procedure that's being explored in patients with age-related Macular Degeneration. Those with Macular Degeneration have scars on the part of the retina that processes images for things in the center of the vision field. In other words, people with AMD can only see the periphery. This miniature telescope enlarges the angle of light reception, much like increasing the depth of field in a photograph, so that the vision field no longer has a black hole in the center.
http://www.eyelasercenter.com/Consultation/Implantable%20Minature%20Telescope.htm
Name:  nicole
Username:  njackman@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  As seen on Oprah...
Date:  2003-04-17 16:53:25
Message Id:  5438
Comments:
This afternoon I was watching Oprah and it was an episode that discussed teenage dating abuse. It wasn't too relevant to class but one sentence stood out in my head. The dating violence expert said, " Love is not a feeling, it's a behavior." I never really thought of love as being a behavior, but it does make sense. I don't think I would go as far as saying that it is not a feeling, but these feelings are expressed through our behavior. Earlier this semester we discussed love, hate, creativity, and other things were difficult to place in our brain = behavior model. Perhaps some of these things can be considered behavior and analyzed in such a way. I know that experiments have been done with dolphins where the dolphins are reinforced by performing a novel act ( they get food when they do a new trick rather than something old). This type of situation produces novel behaviors in the dolphin. The argument suggests that dolphins are creative animals. It does seem strange to attempt to quantify and objectively analyze creativity rather than viewing it as an internal process that some people possess. However, what is creativity if we cannot observe it? Would we say that an artist was creative if he never painted? I think that most things that we view as highly emotional or internal are manifested in our behavior.




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