Biology 202
Neurobiology and Behavior
Spring 2003


21 January

Who are we?

Biology major?15
Psychology major?4
NBS concentrator?9
Other majors? (Anthro-4, PoliSci-6, Phil-2, Chem-2, English-4, Creative Writing, Spanish, Agriculture)23
Undecided2
Interested in biology/nervous system?30
Interested in psychology/behavior?30
Interested in philosophy/nature of reality/human experience?21
Disturbed by/want to understand headlines about research on nervous system/behavior? 12
Want to understand who you are? why you/other people behave the way you/they do? What you/they can do about it? 35
Other? "nature/nurture, aging and resistance to it, brain and language, psychotherapy, placebos, cloning, environment and disease, genetics, epilepsy, autism"10

Neurobiology and BEHAVIOR ... what is "behavior"?

"observable actions plus ... perceptions, thought, motivation, values/tendencies, learning and innate, personality, emotions, beliefs, dreams, aspirations, choice, curiousity, creativity, free will"

NEUROBIOLOGY and behavior ... Neurobiology = study of the nervous system ... what is the "nervous system"?

Image by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), contemporary of Copernicus, suggested (less than 500 years ago) that nervous system rather than heart was origin of behavior (see Milestones in Neuroscience Research for a time line extending from 4,000 B.C.). Image by Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Set framework for several centuries (and continuing) discussion: mind and body distinct things or same thing?

Nervous system is material object, part of body, can be touched, manipulated, measured. What IS relationship between mind/body? between mind/brain? between brain (nervous system) and behavior?


Subject of course: What IS the relationship BETWEEN brain (nervous system) and behavior? and what are the implications?

Agree with Dickinson et al.10
Disagree with Dickinson et al.8
Unsure/fence-sitting22


23 January

Brain = behavior?, from a "scientific" approach:
Issue is not "Truth" but whether it is a good "summary of observations", "working hypothesis", helps to get it continually "less wrong" ...
Course is about the "trend of the evidence":

28 January

Starting with what one thinks .... and getting used to/seeing the advantages of being wrong

hypotheses are a summary of disprovable observations ... I noticed this when I fed one sad little guy pudding (hypothesis: feed an unhappy toddler and he will cheer up) and he still kept on crying...then I smelled his diaper, and instantly knew that my hypothesis had been false :) ... Rachel some things we do are highly irrational, and I am not sure if the brain could account for that ... Alexandra

what the hell are drugs really giving us that we cannot essentially do for ourselves? ... Michelle

The placebo affect and convincing oneself not to get sick do not take the place for drugs. I know from personal experience what antidepressents can do. From my experience in my anthropological studies, the human body as a whole does not evolve into a perfect entity. For example, in adopting upright posture, the body sacrificed a certain degree of joint health in the knees and a certain degree of back health. Because walking upright outweighed this drawbacks, we remain an upright species. However, knee and back problems are very common ... Amelia

Therapy is important, perhaps as much or more so than psychiatric medication in some cases, but many people depend on drugs to maintain their ability to function in daily life ... Cordelia

I feel that the brain is the underlying medium for behavior, but sometimes it would require/ or be faced with things that can influence and can impact the brain ... Zunera

Besides inner strength what about love, faith, compassion, and creativity. The things that are difficult to measure but what I consider important characteristics. If they do infact originate somewhere deep inside our brain. Then how did they get there? And why do some people have them while others don't? ... Clarissa

where my skepticism lies is when factors such as creativity, aspirations, curiosity, emotions enter the scene. How can neurons be responsible for such abstract notions? ... I was also wondering how much genetics had to do with behavior. How much of our behavior is caused/controlled by our genetic makeup? ... Tiffany

although the brain definitely plays a crucial role in behavior outcome, I think factors like environment, ecology, culture, and just human evolution need to be equally considered ... Priya

if brain truly = behaviour, then everyone should have the same character. How would individuality exist if there was nothing more than the brain? ... Neesha

what Prof. Grobstein and Emily Dickenson have trouble dealing with, is called by philosophers "Qualia." It is subjective experience. It cannot be reduced to anything physical and objective ... Andy

If the brain regulates activities of which we're unconscious, such as digestion or temperature regulation, what other, perhaps intangible, unrealized functions could it perform? If someone claims to have the unconscious ability to sense the intangible, say, the future or ghosts or God, is it possible that they've accessed some unconscious area/function of the brain that others haven't? ... Danielle

as I think about the more and more possible things that we have shown the brain can control- how you feel, what you think, how you react, how well you do or do not do things- it becomes easier to believe that the brain is all there is to behavior. Although the brain is a tangible thing, it can control intangible aspects, such as emotion, by regulating tangible chemicals in your body. At the same time, however, it is impossible to show or disprove what those intangible things, such as the soul, that might control behavior are capable of doing and, therefore, they lose significance, in my mind, in their role in behavior ... Clare

I am curious to see whether or not I will be able to remain comfortable in my practice of faith while gaining insight into the physiological motivation of my actions and behavior ... Erin

It is my belief that those tangible things such as chemical pathways aren't anymore absolute than the notion that the soul exists outside the brain and controls behavior ... Shanti

But it is possible that the brain can create a soul, in a manner similar to the way that it creates thoughts. However, if the brain invents the soul that means that when the person dies, the soul dies too. So this is problematic. I'm still trying to analyze the idea of something similar to a soul being carried through genes and being passed from generation to generation ... Nicole

IF Emily is right:

How DOES the nervous system work? ... (What else must it be like if Emily et al right)? ...
and a starting case, the cricket (Bentley and Hoy, 1974)

The sphaghetti (switchboard, "reflex") box model

Virtues

  • Box
  • Input/output relations
  • Historical opening to "rigor"
Problems (if "brain=behavior")
  • stereotopy
  • nodes as relays - why need them?
  • ?
But what if ... ? And so ... ? - divergence and convergence

Sphaghetti (switchboard, "reflex") plus box model

Virtues

  • Box
  • Input/output relations
  • Nodes as integrators rather than relays
Problems (if "brain=behavior")
  • more variation, but still stereotopy
  • "stimulus", "response" starting to look a little less clear
  • ?

A rethinking - boxes in boxes

The sphaghetti (switchboard, "reflex") box model

Virtues

  • Input/output box
  • Parts sort of like whole, themselves input/output boxes, follow similar rules?
Problems (if "brain=behavior")
  • stereotypy, still "stimulus" dependent
  • poor definition of "stimulus", "response"
  • ?
Issues:
  • Is the nervous system a "box"? boundaries?
  • Does it have boxes inside it?
  • How do boxes "integrate"?
  • What's inside THOSE boxes? (boxes all the way down?)

Facing up to the stereotopy, stimulus-response problem ... freeing the box from the outside world, adding autonomy

The boxes inside boxes (with "autonomy") model

Virtues

  • Input/output box made up of input/output boxes
  • Gets rid of "stimulus", "response", replaces with "input", "output"
  • Fixes stereotopy problems, permits "autonomy"
Problems (if "brain=behavior")
  • ?
Issues:
  • Is the nervous system a "box"? boundaries?
  • Does it have boxes inside it?
  • What's inside those?
  • How do boxes "integrate"?
  • How is a signal turned off?
  • How can signals start in the middle?
  • What are "inputs", "outputs"?
Go on to look at actual nervous systems to see if they satisfy expectations and to address issues ... further iterations ("getting it less wrong") to come?


30 January

Some relevant materials on brain re soul:
The "real" nervous system - different if behavior different?


The "real" nervous system - an input/output box consisting of interconnected input/output boxes?

photo from Kemali and Braitenberg, Atlas of the Frog Brain, Springer-Verlag, 1969
Caudal to rostral sequence of "boxes" of "central nervous system" originates in neural tube development, is commmon to all vertebrates (will defer to later discussion of invertebrates, variations among vertebrates)

Each box in turn (somewhat arbitrarily) subdividable into smaller boxes (with some differences among vertebrates, to return to)

And those ... yes, "its boxes all the way down"

4 February

The smallest box: neurons everywhere

Seems Walt agrees with Emily: And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
~Walt Whitman "I Sing the Body Electric" ... Sarah

Last week's discussions about the relation/dependence of brain and behavior have heightened my sensitivity to the subject in daily life. One brief example was that today in ballet class, my teacher corrected the class on their pirouettes (turns), explaining that "your brain can't shut down while you are turning...It must keep thinking while you are in mid-spin." The thought of the brain telling the brain to keep paying attention is interesting to me. The notion of your thought in your brain (rather than a sensory nerve input) telling your brain what to do is something I've never thought about before ... Nicole

What is different between all of us isn't the brain itself, it is the outputs and thought processes of those brains. We all have identical brains in that they are all connected to the rest of our bodies and all of our neurons share the same biology. while we keep saying all of our brains our different, it seems that we should really be saying that our behavior is all different ... Shanti

Humans don't all act the same way, but that doesn't necessaily mean that their nervous systems are different. All humans' nervous systems are structured the same way ... Alanna

the fact that there is no one person that is exactly the same (in terms of behavior) shows us that environments play a much larger role in who were are and how we act, more than the biological structure of the brain itself ... Nupur

What I am trying to propose through all of this information is the idea that environment may effect our behaviors, leading to changes in the structure of our brains and therefore the appearance of our brains ... Michelle

if we are to continue with our previous line of thinking, this means that no two people have identical brains. My question now is, if you dissect two human brains will there be obvious morphological differences? We already learned that men and women have differences in their brains; so let's suppose that we're examining two brains of people of the same sex ... Adina

This leads me to open a potential can of worms. There have been many studies performed examining the brains of heterosexual and homosexual individuals to determine whether or not there are any differences ... I haven't really done any research on this but I did find a link to someone in neurobiology and behavior that did a web paper on this particular topic. It's just a start for anyone that wants to know more about this ... http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web1/Rana.html ... Nicole

it makes me uncomfortable to read students' entries who saw that diagram showing a yellow or gray patch that was sizably different in two brains and now believe that we know something about the female and male sex differences, when i don't think we are close. however valid that study (showing the area that is thought to control menstral cycles?) may be, i bet i could find at least two or three more that refute it openly and can claim the opposite ... Geoff

I am not a science major so please correct me if I am wrong, but is it not true that the same combination of genes may produce completely different behaviours for a person in different environmental circumstances. In my opinion, in higher organisms like the human race,the environment and geographic population around you play larger factors; these in addition to the genetic make-up determine the role of learning in the development of behaviour in these organisms ... Priya

I'm also interested in the nature/nurture issue that exists in talking about individual brains. ... Moreover, I would say that environmental and social influences have the more important role because they can make you the individual that you are- more so than your genes can ... Clare

Don't underestimate or undervalue the contribution of genes to individuality OR to behavior ...PG

An organism's behavior depends not only on the small-scale building blocks, but how these blocks are assembled. The assemblage of the nervous system (and theoretically behavior) seems to depend on the aggregate of factors such as environment and past experiences (which can be inscribed personally, genetically, etc) ... Neela

The illustration about the brain still functioning without the actual body is believeable... but is that what brain was meant for? i mean, if the brain "functions" without doing anything... if there really are things being generated inside the brain without input/outputs... i feel like there needs to be a new definition of "functioning" ... if it is merely to be "generative", i don't know... but that just makes me uncomfortable ... Thinking about that, i was watching the movie AI this weekend, and if we are truly controlled by this input/output box, and if brain = behavior is true, then we'd also all have to believe that there is some higher being who creates and controls this box... Grace

I was also intrigued by Thursday's discussion on the activity of an isolated nervous system, for example the brain kept in a jar. Does it think? I agree with the "autonomy"model of the nervous system where no sensory input is needed to work, but I don't feel the type of activity would be thinking. How could the brain think if it has no sensory input? ... Tiffany

we actually have a model for this, and we use it every night, without putting our brains in a jar. from what i have understood from sleep/dreaming reading (Hobson I believe is the neurologist who has done the most extensive work with this, though i don't discount Freud's work by any means) i have done, as soon as we enter sleep (not all of sleep, but especially REM, when we are dreaming) ALL external output does get shut out, and what we experience as we dream is a creation of the mind ... Geoff

I'm with Tiffany regarding the whole isolated nervous system conversation... but I became confused when someone asked in class if the whole leech phenoma was similiar to the movements animals' bodies make after they've died (twitching, the whole "chicken with their head cut off" deal, etc.) Isn't this just adrenalin in the muscle tissue causing convulsions? Is this at all related to the whole autonomy model or am I wrong for the week? ... Kathleen

assume that if an animal does not contain a neocortex that it cannot experience thoughts or contain memories? ... Jen

"Do these events arise from subconscious desires and conflicts created by life experiences, or is the problem simply one of neurological disfunction?" The answer, given in the article, seems to be that in almost every case, the answer is anatomy, not psychology. But I would be a very bad student of this course if I didn't ask the question, what is the difference in the two? How do experiences and memories which give rise to psychological problems differ from merely anatomical anomalies that cause similar problems? ... Andy

But--what is the consequence of this to our idea of free will? Does free will disappear if everything is hard-wired? Or is our ability to make decisions only something we perceive to exist? (this question seems to tie into some questions raised earlier in this forum...) and, how does the formation of life systems fit into the theory of entropy? ... Katherine L.

A useful discussion, with links, on entropy? ... PG

Why does someone tell a loved one not to board a plane that crashes 2 hours later? We observe an action, there is a change in behavior but how does the brain receive an input from the future? ... Kelvey

What needs to be explained? ... Let's do an experiment/make some observations ...
See also The physical and the spiritual: a conversation about "how to get through the veil and Passage, a novel by Connie Willis, and ... PG

The conversation to date:

IF brain=behavior then:

  • Different behavior implies different brains
    • Observations to date consistent
    • Does NOT say all differences in behavior will have observable differences at levels so far explored
    • Does NOT say what particular brain regions are doing
  • Since differences in behavior result from differences in genomes, uterine environments, individual experiences, culture, each of these things must affect the brain
    • Observations not yet discussed
  • Additional aspects of behavior must be accountable for in terms of brain
    • "supernatural" experiences?
    • free will?
    • observations not yet discussed (nor can process ever be completed?)

Invertebrate nervous systems also have neurons, but differently arranged - makes sense?

Neuron as common, smallest box and as input/output element, connected to other boxes

6 February

Can use to show that larger boxes interconnected, in relatively specific ways (anatomical specificity) and to rigorously specify "input" and "outputs" of largest box ... nervous system itself

So ... at least parts of our box within box model real ...

The boxes inside boxes (with "autonomy") model plus

Additions:

  • Inside boxes THEMSELVES have interconnected inside boxes
  • Organization critical
  • Internal interconnections = tracts, axonal bundles
  • "Action" regions = neuropil (somas, dendrites, synapses)
  • Inputs = axons of sensory neurons (plus)
  • Outputs = axons of motor neurons (plus), can be very long
And some questions (in addition to those in figure):
  • What is neocortex for?
  • How can model become less wrong?

Outputs - topographic organization - anatomical specificity

Inputs - also some topographic oranization (with some other things to be returned to)
For additional information:
Usefulness of the interconnected box model and ... another box?

11 February

Serial killers, coffee, Christopher Reeves, plus ...
(are they related? if so, how?)

Neuroscience Art Gallery ... from Sarah

Lightness Perception and Lightness Illusions ... from Geoff

Do we use only 10% of our brain? ... from Arun

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed?
If every single behavior is determined by the pattern of synapse activity in a given brain, it's mind-blowing to try to comprehend the complexity of it all. Imagine a piano, with 10^12 keys. Can you begin to fathom the number of different pieces of music that piano is capable of making? And now imagine that there are billions of pianos, and every one of them has the keys arranged differently. The same piece of music will be different on each piano ... Sarah

I work at a coffeehouse, and the other night we ran out of regular espresso right before closing. Since there wasn't time to get more coffee, we served decaf espresso to customers instead without telling them the difference. As I had read that the effects of caffeine are mainly controlled by the power of suggestion, I was interested to see how people would react to the switch. As expected, not many people noticed the difference. Could it be that our brains can control how our nervous systems react to chemicals? It doesn't seem possible, but I've read many "scientific" accounts of people controlling their health through placebos and even such things as positive thinking. Surely, the connection between the brain and the nervous system is much more complicated than I had thought ... Elizabeth

.I do think that there are times that the act of taking a pill makes more of a difference than the pill itself ... Nupur

Its really hard to beleive how "fluid" the brain is and how closely connected brain and behavior are. Never before had I thought that peoples brains could be different. One of the examples someone mentioned from class was that of a serial killer. I can beleive that a part of the brain could change if a normal person became a serial killer, but what if the serial killer after years of committing crimes, decided to become a good person. Would the brain undergo some change again? Maybe back to its original state?? This would imply that the brain is always changing, right? ... Neesha

didn't we already state that every individual's brain is different and therefore every individual's behavior is different? Then how can we look in a serial killer's brain and say- ah ha! THIS is the part in his brain that is different from everyone else's so it MUST be what is making him be a serial killer. In fact, since everyone's brain is different, this could just be another difference that makes him the individual that he is and has nothing to do with his serial killer behavior. But then again ... there are always similarities in the way that they express certain illnesses, such as depression or eating disorders. Therefore, even though our brain and our behavior ARE different, since I do believe that the foundational way that brains work are similar, does this mean that you CAN open up a brain and find within different brains similar similar conditions related to these illnesses despite the various environmental, social, and biological factors that play into causing these illnesses? ... Clare

What is it in our brains that defines right and wrong for us? Is there some universal human moral code ingrained into our brains (or at least those of us who are "normal") that says killing other people is wrong? Or have we completely invented this idea? Or is it just a feature of some tit-for-a-tat altruistic principle? ... Cordelia

I am still stuck on the idea that serial killers have different brains than the rest of us. why do i believe that assumption so strongly (i do, don't i?), when there has been no real evidence on the matter? as far as i can see, it because i don't want to think of the alternative. it is scary as anything to think that my brain may be exactly the same as ted bundy's. i also would like to think that i have free will ... but what is the free will we are talking about? i get it that we have very different nervous systems, but if we all go in with that and in any given environment basically play a given role, what does it matter? ... Geoff

This sets up the scenario that all humans will behave differently since they all have a background of different experiences on which to base their current behavior even when faced with the same situation. To an extent, I think this is true but on larger scale events, like Geoff's example of a war, even these people from different environments/backgrounds exhibit similar behavior. Behaviors overlap and are shared among very different people. Although at first it may seem to contradict it, these ideas support our model that similar brain structure=similar behavior because humans all have similar looking brains (more similar to each other than to say a monkey's brain) which would suggest shared "human instincts" and other similar behavior, yet on a micro level, it may be possible to detect minute differences in the brain or chemical makeup which would support differences in behavior between humans ... Nicole

hmmmm ... sort of the same but sort of different? .... PG

I feel much better about myself if I know that I am in some way biologically different from someone who murders people. Its an interesting twist on free will. I would imagine that even people who believe very strongly in free will still want to hold onto something more that serves as a separation ... But are the differences in our brains ones that we could detect and study? And do things that we perceive as great differences in behavior translate to great differences in the brain? I was reading a Scientific American article earlier "Why? The Neuroscience of Suicide" which mentions at one point that early childhood experiences, such as child abuse, can lead to altered brain chemistry ... Although serial killers' brains may be different from mine, perhaps some change could take place in my brain from some event I experienced that would induce me to go on a killing spree. Kate

HMMMMM ... so free will is not the same as being a distinctive individual, huh? ...PG

This is pretty off the topic being discussed in the forum right now but I'd just like to contrast the approach to brain=body we've taken in class, which is based on western views and understanding to that of a different culture. Many east-asian cultures are deeply rooted in various forms of holistic training. Holistic practices such as yoga and tai-chi are based on the connection between mind and body and focus on strengthening and centering the mind through training of the body. As I see it then, such cultures have had a deep understanding of Dickinson's concept of brain=body for quite some time now. ... a focus on strengthening the abdomen, which is considered the energy center of the body. This brings me to the concept of the enteric nervous system ... since many asian cultures seem to me to have a heads up that spans centuries on understanding the connection between the brain and the body maybe a closer look at the enteric system wouldn't be a bad idea.

Might make a nice web paper topic too ... PG

I had no idea that quadriplegics were able to move in any way, even when pinched. I was quite suprised although it made sense once we went over how the nervous system functions ... There cannot be an output if the boxes that generate the output are not accessible to the box that is initiating the action ... Is the brain still capable of regulating the body if it recieves no input of changes within the body? Tiffany

Maybe the model should include subsidiary boxes which follow the input/output theory, but operate outside of the brain. ... These boxes would have direct paths from the input to an intermediary box outside of the brain (in Reeve's case, the box would be at the caudal end of the spinal cord) and out as an output back to the source of the stimuli. These boxes would be like closed-loop circuits designed for quick reaction to inputs which are dangerous enough to require reaction more quickly than could be given if the information had to be transported all the way to the brain, processed, and sent all the way back ... Danielle

all of this makes me think that maybe the spinal cord can work on its own to produce certain behavior and maybe that is why Reeves can move his foot ... Melissa

It is like each part of the nervous system has its own little department, and each of these various departments are connected in some way, so that a message is sent from one part of the body to the other. If one of those connections is cutoff or disrupted in some way from dept. to the others, then each department continues to work within itself and with the other departments it is still connected to ... Alanna

I've been thinking that if the seat of consciousness is in the brain, it can be fully true that Reeves can say that he cannot move his foot. He cannot think and make his foot move, consciously or unconsciously. His foot can only move in response to outside stimuli, and not stimuli within himself ... Amelia

Is the issue only outside versus inside "stimuli"? Or is there something more here? ... PG

It is very interesting Reeve reports, "I cannot move my foot" but his foot does move. So, what is this mysterious "I" ? ... The attribute of 'self' in this case seems to take on a privileged place in the nervous system, since not all parts of the system are included. First, the 'I' seems to live in the brain and not the spinal cord. Second, it seems to require a distinct decision making process to occur that is somehow different, or at least perceived differently, than a process in the spine that results in the same behavior ... Katherine L.

it seems that, despite Descartes' ridiculous ideas, there is no specific part of the brain that contains consciousness ... But at the same time, certain functions of the nervous system can indeed be cut out of the realm of consciousness, as Mr. Reeves's foot shows us. Thus, the question becomes, from what set of elements in the body does consciousness "emerge"? ... Andy

This "I" can be indicative of many different effects. Katherine attributes this "I" to be part of the definition of self. My question is what is this self. Is it the part of us that dreams, hopes, and aspires? Or is it simply neural pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord? Is this "I" indicative of the human soul? ... Annabella

I was intrigued by Katherine's, Andy's, and Annabella's discussion of the placement of "I" within (or outside of) the brain and behavior. In normative thought, we tend to separate the body (NS) from certain behaviors. Instinct (unlearned, untaught, and perhaps unconscious behavior) is made distinct from the behavior of free will (the conscious "I"). The human conception of "self" seems to stem from our unlocated consciousness. However, if we conceed that brain= all behavior, then the sense of self should be located in the nervous system along with our other more innate behaviors ... Playing the devil's advocate, maybe Annabella's example of newborns' differing personalities isn't really a display of a child's expression of "I" (or soul). Maybe they are merely behaving unconsciously out of instinct located within the nervous system. Freud claims that subjectivity and consciousness emerge from a temporal and environmental occurance a bit later and it not a direct result of natural biological right (but Freud seems to have had plenty of his share of wrongs) ... Neela

ah so, MORE web papers there? .... PG

Observations "surprising", but have to be accepted - Issue is "how to make sense of them"

Two kinds of behavior ("reflex" versus something-else) intuition probably not useful

Break problem down into components, see what actually difficult/suprising (good general principle in science)
Ascending somatosensory pathways

Some landmarks so far:
  • nervous system an input/output box with autonomy - signals starting within nervous system
  • its all neurons, themselves input/output elements
  • neurons organized into larger input/output boxes, which can function to some degree independently of one another
  • lots of them with lots of connections, so might indeed be "everything" if continually affected by experience, its own function
  • topographic organization - "anatomical specificity"
  • action as spatio-temporal pattern of activity across lots of muscles/motoneurons - perception? thought?
  • "physical contiguity principle"
  • issues of "self", "consciousness", "free will" not avoidable - if such terms didn't already exist, we'd have to make them up to make sense of studies on the nervous system
    • report of internal state
    • effect of external event on internal state
    • action based on internal state as opposed to simply external state or "causeless"?
13 February

I function interesting but ...
Still a little vague and LOTS happening WITHOUT I-function, even without ns damage
Maybe if we can figure out how things happen WTIHOUT I-function it will help us understand I-function?
Both, in any case, must be accountable for in terms of neurons, since there ain't nothing else there (to a first approximation).

So, let's look at neurons.
How does nervous system do ANYTHING? What is "activity"? What are "signals"? How start in middle? How stopped? How integrated?(questions from earlier).

Action potential - transmission of information (rather than matter or energy)
Resting potential
Receptor/generator potential - autonomy and responsiveness
Synaptic potential - integration

Action potential - longitudinal battery which appears/disappears successively at successive points along an axon ("travels" at finite speed), "all or nothing" transient (millisecond range) event

20 February - (18 February snow)

I've been thinking about the serial killer issue and have been trying to relate it to what I've learned in my anthro classes ... I don't think that there is a hard and fast rule about the differences between serial killers and "normal" Americans; some might have differences within their brains that would lead them to kill, while others seem to simply choose to kill people and have no apparent differences withing their brains ... Amelia

If each behavior that we display is caused by a sequence of neuronal output (like a melody), maybe there are distinct melodies for distinct behaviors. If your brain doesn't play the melody "kill...kill" then you are not likely to display this behavior in any situation. Maybe this is what differentiates normal persons from serial killers ... Michelle

I'm not saying that some people haven't been damaged by their environment and past experiences, but you can't blame all actions on a person's background and things happening to them. Are we so incabable of molding our own lives that we depend on things happenening to us? And on that note, what about being held accountable for your actions? ... Shanti

Something stops us when we feel we have gone overboard. Social controls are probaly one factor, as well as a properly functioning frontal lobe, but what about the I-function? Could the I-function be another form of checking agression? ... Clarissa

The idea of the box "I factor" really made me think about what it means when "I MAKE" a choice, "I DID" something, etc. I'm just really stumped at this point because I am not comfortable with the material presented. The pronouns and simple words like conscienceness that we used so freely before is no longer such a simple topic ... "IS HE PARALYZED?"... well, to C Reeves himSELF, he is because he can't move his body. But from an outside perspective, he really isn't paralyzed (what IS paralyzed anyway?) because we can see that he moves his foot!! ... Grace

To me, the discussion about Christopher Reeve became a issue on semantics and a simple laziness in the use of the English language to reflect what is happening ... Kelvey

When we dream, WE are dreaming. This is the only possibility, since no one else can dream for us in the way that they can move our toes. We call these dreams something that WE have, and yet the I-function can have little to do with them. This brings me to my point of confusion: are we possibly just arguing semantics when we talk about the I-function? I think it is possible that there is no inherent compulsion that makes us use language in a way where "I did this" means one thing and not the other. Therefore, when Christopher Reeve denies moving his foot as he watches HIS FOOT moving, is this not merely a product of the language he has been taught, as opposed to some definite line between "I" and "not I"? ... Cordelia

By "I function" are we really just referring to the part that talks? And if we are, are we saying that the part that talks is the only determiner of consciousness? ... Sarah

After having done the eye/finger experiment in class, I agree that somewhere inside the nervous system there is an "I-function" box. It was obvious that the nervous system was capable of accomplishing outputs that we could not or that our "I-function" could not. Therefore there must be a net distinction between what we do and what our nervous system does on its own. I think that this is somewhat frightening because it becomes more difficult to determine what part of our behaviour is really caused/controlled by our own selves ... If our behaviour is not completely controlled by our I-function, people could blame their abnormal behaviour on their nervous systems and no longer be held responsible for any of their actions. Where does responsiblity lie if we are no longer liable for our behaviours? ... Tiffany

I thought that the whole concept of the I-function was quite interesting, and made a lot of sense. Though I do find weight in what Elizabeth was saying regarding us not wanting to be the same as serial killers, the whole notion of the I-function is that there is yet another difference in every persons brain ... Marissa

I think that it's important to acknowledge this I-function box in order to realize the significance of words like "consciousness", "self" and perhaps the meanings behind the intentions that some people have. Cannot the I-function then be held somewhat responsible for temporary insanity, as is seen as a plea for some serial killer/criminal cases? Many people are aware of their "self" and can usually distinguish dream from reality. Maybe this incontinuity between boxes, somehow not touching the I-function box, can explain lapses in judgment and what is considered to be conscious action of an individual ... Christine

.To any who have not yet read Descartes Error by Antonio Damasio, you should check it out ... Related to our discussion about serial killers, Damasio writes, "We need to understand the nature of these human beings whose actions can be destructive to themselves and to others, if we are to solve humanely the problems they pose. Neither incarceration nor the death penlty--among the responses that society currently offers for those individuals--contribute to our understanding or solve the problem. In fact, we should take the question further and inquire about our own responsibility when we 'normal' individuals slip into the irrationality that marked Phineas Gage's [subject of a study in the book] great fall." ... Nicole

There are clearly some actions (like smooth eye-tracking) which exist without going through an I-function box. There are times in which we truly do not have control over ourselves. We must breathe, we must react. But wait, isn't breathing and reacting caused by some sort of observation and reaction which is an I-function, albeit perhaps a much less sophisticated one? I am very confused on this point. Where does reflex end and self begin? ... I am not proposing that environmental concerns do not matter, or that in every case people make decisions which lead to mental disorders, but merely that I hold on to the notion that each of us has a great deal of freedom in shaping the chemistry of our own brains Kate

The addictive bit of the "I" function--where is control? Is control voluntary or involuntary? Is control pathways that have been trained to carry out impulses a certain way, what we deem the "correct" way, and is absence of control/ aberrant behavior impulses carried out a different way? So where do serial killers, exhibiting aberrant behavior, fit? And isn't it interesting that we keep looking at exceptions, special cases, post-trauma accidents, whatever is not normal, to try to figure out what is normal? Does "normal" get under anyone else's skin? ... Ingrid

Just to bring another interdisciplinary note to the "I" function discussion, I was thinking about a course in poetry I took last year and how the class had a discussion over the "I" presented in poetry, and its relationship to the "you" of poetry, and how these two entities are sometimes intersecting and sometimes seperable from the entities of "poet" and "reader" and the relationship between them. "I" does not necessarily equal "poet", and sometimes these two entities may not even be related within one poem. Because the "I" is a creation of the "poet", it represents only a selection of what she chooses to present of herself. In this equation, I suppose that the "poet" of this model is best represented by the "I" function of our discussions. So then, where is the subset of the "poet", the "I" presented in our discussion? Just another thought on multiple selfhood ... Kat

Is there only one box for the "I-function?" What would happen if that location on the brain were damaged? Would the consciousness and sense of self of that individual disappear? Because this seems like an uncommon occurrence, it seems likely that there must be several locations of the "I-function." ... Alexandra

What I've been thinking about is the energy and "wiring" that enables such a function to exist. For neurons to fire, electrons must move; for this motion, there needs to be a potential difference—a battery—that will supply energy... But where is the beginning of the batteries, where is the initial potential? ... Katherine L.

I do think it's a little depressing that what we call choices may simply be a response or output that occurs as a result of a tremendous amount of input. I guess I find comfort in the fact that the amount of input needed to make a choice, display free will, or assert our autonomy is so great that we cannot be reduced to a computer that just reacts to the world around it. However, since input can be generated inside the box, I guess there is more to life than just reacting. I think there may be a bit of fiddling with semantics to feel better about that which we don't fully understand ... Nicole

Can one react without I-function?

Can one act (autonomously) without I-function?

To understand action potential, need first to understand resting potential - transverse battery, continuously present, with potential for continuous variation

25-27 February

Having a mental illness can be life threatening, ostracizing, hellish and terrifying. Perhaps the worst thing about it, though, is having to deal with the majority of the world thinking it is your fault ... Cordelia

Yes, in general, people are responsible for their own actions -HOWEVER, when an abnormality in the brain causes abnormal behaviors that just cannot be helped, then it is a completely different story. They cannot be held responsible for what they are incapable of controlling ... Alanna

I have never in my life attempted to explain to a professor that I couldn't do something because of depression. But the plain truth is that sometimes depression prevents me from coming to class or completing an assignment. Do I have control over my actions? Do I have free will in this situation? To some extent, yes...but also no. And should this be excused? I honestly can't answer that. How do you think authority figures would react to that kind of situation? ... Kate

I'm surprised by how many people in this very class alone have experience with close family/friends whom are mentally ill as I can name at least 3 in my life, but for their sake would rather not discuss it on an internet forum. I thank Cordelia for her bravely and eloquently stated account ... and for setting it straight that people with mental illness really do not have control over some of their actions. I also agree with many who have said that some of the problem is that society does not understand mental illness and so does not know how to best react for their own and the afflicted person's benefit. It is probably difficult for some people to accept it because it is scary to come to terms with the possibility that someone can simply not have control over their actions. Everyone in society is affected by mental illness, indirectly or directly, so it is surprising how uncomfortable people are to even talk about it ... Nicole

in our previous discussion of people committing crimes, it is not enough to say that because a person's brain is different, they should be allowed to act in a certain way. If someone were to come in to your home and hurt you or one of your family members, your first thought would not be, "I should excuse his actions because his brain is different from mine. He must have had a traumatic childhood or the chemical s in his brain are messed up." You're thinking, who is this person who thinks he/she can hurt my family and you want him/her to be punished for their actions. Even if you were to find out later that he was ill, you want him to be held accountable. I dont' believe that all people SHOULD be held accoutable, I believe that all people ARE held accountable ... Being held accountable doesn't neccessarily mean that the person should go to jail, but being held accountable also includes getting help ... Shanti

In situations involving serial killers, our society appears rather quick to point fingers when fingers should not be pointed. True, it is difficult to determine what the exact line is that separtates sanity and insanity. However, I don't feel that it is moral to attack those who could truly benefit from some good mental rehabilitation. In my opinion, it is much easier to scorn someone who needs help then to actually go ahead and find them the help that they need. Perhaps then society is taking the "easy way out" by brutally accusing and abusing the serial killers who have been diagnosed as being mentally ill rather than looking for a means to help them ... Rachel

I also wanted to bring up the topic of the Honor Code. Both Bryn Mawr and Haverford have one, and we, as undergraduates, agree to live by it during our time here. We are expected to be responsible for our actions at all times; even if we are intoxicated, we are expected to be accountable for our actions ... Amelia

All of this is on my mind as I try to think of how the court system could be reformed so that those truly in need of help are not left in a cell to be devoured by their diseases, while those who commit crimes in cold blood are not let off the hook. Can we always tell the one from the other? ... Sarah

What can be done for people that cannot control themselves? ... Marissa

i would like to make the point that we can not go around, even if the justice system were in good enough shape to concentrate on this issue, curing "abnormal" people and making them "normal" like the rest of us ... Geoff

Psychological disorders such as chronic depression do have neurobiological explanations ... However, outside of the scientific community, they remain misunderstood mainly because their symptoms are recognized as emotions, which are seen as controllable and therefore voluntary ... What if a person has a melancholy, thoughtful and solitary temperament in a society of driven social butterflies? Surely this person would seem "abnormal" and maybe even ill ... Neela

if it (the I-function) were to be damaged or destroyed, then where else would our existing consciousness come from? ... Alanna

This is when Cordelia's comment that 'in terms of I-function and consciousness, there is something "more",' is applicable. Is it this "more" that she talks about the motivator behind most criminals? Or is it just a comfort blanket that we hug to ourselves, in hope that the line between us and them is not quite as thin as it seems? ... Annabella

Is morality a inhibitory function of the brain or is it somehow a part of this "I" function that we have grown so fascinated with? Does our society make us morally conscious? And if so what does it mean to be morally conscious? ... I believe that uncovering the answers or proposing answers to these questions is essential to understanding human behavior ... Michelle

Do depression/schizophrenia/other things diminish the control one has over one's action?

Is Christopher Reeves "responsible" for the actions of his foot?

Are sleep walkers "responsible" for their actions?

Are serial killers?

How do we decide what "accountability" is? In whom it rests?

Is "normal" the same thing as "accountable"? as "responsible"? as having control over one's actions?

Maybe knowing something about neurons/action potentials/etc matters?

Neuronal signals:

Resting potential ... concentration gradient of charged particles, selective membrane permeability ... can get from there to action potential ...

action potential: adjacent membrane regions with different transverse batteries (because of different selective permeabilities) - Issue then is how to get it to MOVE, with finite velocity?

Propagation

Channel gating

Threshhold - non-linearitie s

Notice it is NOT matter moving, nor energy, it is a perturbation (signal, information)

And the big question ... can signals start in the middle of the box?

Yes

Have action potential, resting potential, spontaneous activity, based on ...

Need receptor potential, synaptic potential ... can do with one more idea/mechanism (not mystical)

4-6 March

If there is a change/decrease in membrane permeability to certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, it makes sense that ones behavior would be affected by it. Therefore I do agree to a certain extent that brain=behavior since I believe that an imbalance in ionic gradients or membrane permeability can lead to a change in behavior. My skepticism lies in behavior that is more abstract. I still don't understand how the nervous system, which simply consists of action potentials generated by changes in ionic gradients, can affect a person's curiosity, creativity or aspirations ... Tiffany

It was amazing to see a room full of hands, of people that either knew someone with depression or have dealt with it personally. Yet, it still remains such a taboo topic ... Melissa

When professor asked if we feel comfortable talking about mental disorders, i thought to myself, "yeah, i do." i thought more about this and realized i have indeed become very comfortable talking about mental disorders...in other people. even as i write this, i know that i could not talk about myself ... Geoff

I have to admit that maybe I am responsible for how well adapted the successful people with a mental disorder are, as well as for how poorly adapted the serial killers are. I uphold ideas that are socially acceptable, so I am part of a system that builds people into what they are ... Luz

I don't know if its natural selection or just the diversity of all living things but I think we would learn something if we stopped to figure out why we are so anxious to "fix" everything ... Shanti

we have seen a dramatic increase in neurobiological illnesses (i.e. autism) over the past few years and that the issue needs to be approached not in terms of "finding a medical cure", but instead a change in society and how we live our lives ... Arum

I do think it is interesting that mental illness is socially constructed and that different cultures have different views on what is categorized as mental illness. I think that as we try to define ourselves we categorize something (a behavior or person) as different or abnormal and quickly attach a stigma to it ... Nicole

While it is partially romantic to think about societies that are less developed as ours, as happier, there may be a grain of truth to this thought. For example, schizophrenics, while they have or had difficulty fitting into our society, may have been able to have been shamans or medicine men ... Alexandra

Yes, there is no magic label to tell us if something is "abnormal" enough to need treatment. Many people do feel that we as a society are overly dependent on psychiatric medications ... Perhaps some doctors do not follow these guidelines as they should, but they are there, and the mental health field does not deserve to be portrayed like a gang of pill pushers. Medicine is simply the best proven treatment for most mental illnesses ... Cordelia

I absolutely reject the idea that people with mental illnesses can change their behavior (in respect to their illness). I'm not saying that a person's perspective on the situation won't change things, but that alone is not enough ... Kate

I find it particularly interesting that the brain, in its complexities,has somehow evolved and acquired the ability, ever since the beginning of its existence of life on earth, to learn and to adapt, and to be able to change its chemical and molecular basis to accomdate its external environment. So in a way the brain feeds on what we see, hear, and feel ... Tung

I think this goes back to the idea of control and free will, maybe people find reducing all behaviors to "signals" of the nervous system threatening of that freedom we believe we possess. And i don't know if you can really believe brain=behavior half heartedly. If they are one in the same you can't omit 'abstract' behavior from the equation ... Viv

If brain = behavior does that merely account for physical behavior or does it account for mental behavior as well such as thoughts, beliefs, and artistic differentiation? Where is the line drawn, or is one even drawn at all? ... Enor

If the mind supervenes on the physical nervous system, then the fact that signals can start within the nervous system must have strong implications, although what those implications are, I haven't figured out yet. Does this prove the existence of "a priori" (prior to experience) faculties of the mind, like Kant theorized? Does it help with an argument for free will, since it allows for a sort of self-stimulation? (no giggles, please) ... Andy

In terms of Kant (as mentioned earlier), it is an interesting idea that the ability for signals to start from "within the box" could help to justify his idea of "a priori" subjectivity. It doesn?t seem to work completely, however, because it is still unclear to me where the possibility for "choice" exists and does not exist, and how this relates to prior experience ... Katherine L.

If a signal can be altered, then it is not hard to make the next connection between brain and behavior ... What stops the signalling? How are permenant pathways created? Where exactly are the points where variations in signalling can take place within the nervous system besides membrane permiability? ... Kelvey

Can we get "culture" out of neurons/action potentials?

Can we get "free will" out of neurons/action potentials?

What does study of nervous system say about mental "illness", how to deal with it productively?

Need more neurobiology but to foreshadow ...

Have action potential, resting potential, spontaneous activity, based on ...

Need receptor potential, synaptic potential ... will then have neuron, can go on to ...
Can do with one more idea: additional kinds of variable permeabilities.

Input (sensory) signals - an example

Synaptic potentials - Synaptic integration

Complexity of synaptic interactions Chemosensitivity not restricted to synaptic regions

Have done neurons, their properties. For more/different (quick sample):

Basic idea: neurons substantially similar, integrate currents due to permeability changes, send signals (action potentials, currents, chemicals) on to other neurons ...

Is that ENOUGH? --------> Forum

18 March

the very question initially posed in this course: is there a difference between brain and behavior. I personally find it to be the single most important question that exists today ... Erin

What I'd like to get a better grasp of is where personality fits into the model ... Danielle

I would like to know more about creativity and creative reasoning and how that fits into neuroscience ... Amelia

we haven't talked much about memory yet ... Geoff

What I really want to know about if how susceptible the brain is to modification ... Stephanie

if our membrane permeabilities are preprogrammed can they be reprogrammed and how do environmental factors like treatment and medication affect change in our programming? ... Vivian

I still believe though that environments have a strong impact on behavior-including upbringing, culture, and regional backgrounds ... Christine

I guess one could say that environment can affect predisposed properties of neurons and their interactions which in turn, dictate all behavior and human experience, but I am not yet comfortable enough to make such an affirmative statement ... Nicole

All of my statements in this posting could easily be explained away if I knew more information on the source of seemingly independant actions of the brain ... Neela

An action potential that fires without stimuli is still determined by genetics and an infinite collection of other physical causes...The fact that it starts within the body doesn't indicate any sort of real agency. So, sadly, the problem of free will reappears as strong as ever ... Andy

My question is what determines the winner of the battle between neurons. Besides action potential, what controls the passage of a input and in what areas can that input be disrupted? ... Kelvey

Have general ideas of units, rules of construction ... let's start building, see what we can get to connect the two levels?

Begin (non-traditionally) with output - "action"

Action = "motor symphony"

Accounting for motor symphony
  • Use reafferent loop?
  • Play from internal score?
Preliminary human evidence?
  • "central pattern generation"

Looking more closely at the "central pattern generation" hypothesis

Reafferent loop - exteroreceptors and proprioceptors Earthworm movement

IF you come out of this course believing there is no such thing as free will, I will have failed. We CAN influence our own behavior, the behavior of others, and the human fate.

Yes, there ARE sensory inputs of which you are unaware and that nonetheless play a very substantial role in your behavior

20 March

Looking for some "rocks" - between neurons and behavior

Action (observable) = motor symphony (spatio-temporal pattern of motoneuron action potentials)

Humans, earthworms ... reafferent loops, central pattern generation?

Crayfish - swimmeret (female, male) beat

25 March

The fact that we have sensory inputs that we are unaware of makes a lot of sense to me now that I think about it ... if we were actually knowledgable of all of the inputs which our nerves were taking in we would suffer from information overload ... Amelia

While I agree with the statement that 'physiology alone is not enough to explain all of human behavior and experience,' (Alanna) I cannot find the thread that joins it to the idea purporting that it hinders our ability to 'explain what lives beyond the physiological.' If we can explain what exactly our physiological processes do, then we have narrowed down a wealth of things that our free will is NOT accountable for ... Annabella

I guess when I break free will down to its bare minimal meaning, I think of it as the ability to choose not to do something one is physically capable of doing. When I think of it that way, I come to the conclusion that it must not take some extraordinarily magically complicated system to produce free will ... I DO believe that the nervous system is able to somehow provide for free will. I DO NOT understand exactly how. I also think that other types of systems, as in machine, artificial intelligence type replications of the nervous system can provide for free will. I'm guessing they do this in a similar way to however the nervous system does it ... Cordelia

Before we can say that physiology does not encompass explain the "soul" and "free will," we must ask ourselves what those concepts mean. The problem seems to be that they are ill-defined and elusive to begin with ... Perhaps the problem isn't physiology's incapacity to explain the soul but our incapacity to grasp the physiological totality ... O think it may be too easy to just say that certain concepts do not originate from brain when the concepts themselves cannot be pinned down let alone be attributed to other explainations ... Neela

I can understand how an individual with neurons that fire rapidly might be prone to exhibit a personality with hyperactive qualities. However, i don't see how our model explains emotions such as happiness or sadness in an individual ... Jen

If neurons pass along information and our output affects our input, what about how we interpret the information? Is this where emotion comes in? Most of the time the person next to you is experiencing the same situation in a totally different way ... Luz

As a scientifically-minded person with tendencies to overanalyze and question concepts proffered as absolute by even the most notable experts, I have found it necessary to seek documentation and illustration, which will remove my unfounded doubts regarding proprioception. Although it is neither a theoretical nor philosophical concept, in order to solidify my comprehension of that physiological reality, I have sought out tangible demonstrations of proprioceptive activity ... Simplification and restatement of these concepts in familiar terms has allowed me to grasp what initially seemed to be a very nebulous concept ... Erin

Since we have recently discussed sensory inputs which we are not aware of, it has made me wonder if we have brought brain=behavior to a new level. Of course there exist sensory inputs of which we are not aware that cause noticable, tangible outputs, but do there exist outputs which we are also not aware of? ... Enor

If brain truly does equal behavior, I think it's necessary that there must be some things that we are either unaware, less aware of, or not able to control (either because we're unaware or just incapable) ... Stephanie

how would proponents of the theory that brain=behavior explain the fact that the heart is not dependent on information(pattern generation) from the brain in order to function and can continue to beat even after an organism is brain dead? ... Maria

The pacemaker cells that spontaneously start a heartbeat are not reliant on the nervous system directly. But, other components of the resulting behavior (a heartbeat) are related to the brain ... Nicole

central pattern generation has to do with both genetics and learned experience and not solely one or the other? ... Christine

I-function relevant on both input and output sides Need to distinguish independently dependence on/involvement of
  • nervous system
  • input
  • awareness

PG WRONG ... at least if heart beat part of behavior

Have "central pattern generation" as abstraction ... can locate/make more concrete?, and beyond ...

Motor sympony lacks a conductor - coordinated performance of independent players (cf. Boids) - efference copy = corollary discharge

CPG from genome/experience/combination - is interconnected neurons

Look at some more uses/implications of corollary discharge:

1 April

As we continue to investigate those neurological mechanisms, which contribute to human activity, we must recognize how very close we are to decisively equating the brain with behavior. We are rapidly discovering that even an external environment is not prerequisite for human behavior: central pattern generators produce self-sustaining patterns of activity, which are independent of sensory input. The body's ability to coordinate and manage a variety or motions depends, instead, upon complex neural organization, which enables the delegation of responsibilities to distinct networks of nerve cells. This extraordinary ability demonstrates, not a dependence of behavior upon the brain, but a true unification of the two. Activities, ranging from breathing to running are controlled by specialized circuits, central pattern generators, which steadfastly execute those actions again and again without conscious effort and without the involvement of the I-function ... Erin

So the difference is that in the first case my eye isn't orchestrating its movement and doesn't tell my brain to expect the world to jump around. But why can't I (ie, my "I-function") tell my brain, "Okay, I'm poking myself in the eye now, expect the world to move around," and thus prevent the world from seeming to jump, as in the case of having my eye do its own moving? In both cases I'm controlling the movement of my eye, why can't I just tell my brain that my finger's making my eye move? I know it, why doesn't my brain? ... Danielle The eye-jabbing experiment does pose an interesting question. Why aren't we (using the "I"-function) able to control the way our eyes will react to such a stimulus? ... Christine

It seems that our eye-function (ha ha ha...um yeah) does not have input into certain CPG circuits and therefore can't directly effect/control certain sensory interpretations. Despite our cognitive knowledge of our eye being pushed, this knowledge cannot be translated or communicated to the part of the brain that controls the automatic adjustment ... Neela

Danielle makes an interesting point. Why can't our I-function inform the rest of our NS of what's going on? It seems that our I function cannot make use of the various chemical pathways that other parts of our NS use. It can't fake corollary discharge -- but it also can't affect heart rate, it can't restore homeostatic temperature, it can't detect imbalance of chemicals in our blood stream... It seems we aren't really in control of everything, are we? ... Sarah

It makes sense to me that our I-function is unable to control/affect certain pattern generating circuits even though we might be conscious that something is occurring to our body such as the eye poking. The reason it makes sense is that the body performs many vital functions that we are unaware of ... Tiffany

It didn't take long before the entire class was clapping in unison. This reminded me of a discussion I had with a European friend who said that in some places in Europe, an audience claps in unison after performances ... Also, I recall trying to teach VERY basic dancing skills to a group of guys in high school ... Nicole

I can understand why a limb would want to be able to communicate its status to other parts of the body, but I can't imagine why other parts of the body would want to communicate that limb's status to a third party ... If amputee patients imagine their arm being raised when it doesn't exist, there must be a system of neurons sending arbitrary signals about that arm. Why don't those signals conflict with the arm's actual location before the arm is amputated? ... Andy

In response to Alex's post about why people who experience the phantom limb phenomenon often feel pain ... I think it may be a psycho-somatic response. If a person has a finger amputated (or an arm, leg, etc.), they remember what it was that made that operation necessary, so when they look at where their finger should be, they may think, ouch, that must've hurt, or, that did hurt ... Stephanie

The only reason that I can think of that might explain why the correllary discharge signals would send out a signal for pain in the amputated limb would be that the brain might be "worried" about that limb. Since it hasn't received sensory input from the limb in a long time, generating the sensation of pain in the limb(or rather non-existent limb) might be a way to force the body to check up on that limb even though it is not there anymore. Although this does not quite make sense it is the best explanation that I could think of ... Alex

Obviously there are some signals being sent to the brain. But how is that possible given that the limb no longer exists? Where does the signal come from? ... Irinia

It is interesting to note that there is a disorder where people cannot feel pain at all....the majority of people with this die young, not from the disorder itself, but from not noticing some sort of dangerous, painful thing that any of us would easily know to walk away from ... Cordelia

Does the illustration that motor symphony adjustments can occur demonstrate or portray the concept of 'choice'? ... Jen

Fear for the unknown seem to play an important role in our interaction with others and the environment and in how we developed our behavior. These two ideas are very interesting and I sure hope that our class discussion will sometime lead into this topic (our fear of the unknown) ... Tung

Someone mentioned in class today that learned more about these unrealized inputs (and outputs) will be helpful to us to better understand why we behave the way we did. I was saying this to my friends over lunch after the class and couple of them were saying that much of the problems that we see now a days ARISE from people always wanting to know more. "Ignorance is bliss" kinda mentality. They were saying that many of the neurological diseases or even habits may be better left alone... so maybe one of the problems in our society is that we are unwiling to go into the unknown? ... Grace

Our bodies are continuously in the search for equilibrium. We find this to be true throughout many physiological processes which go on even without our knowledge. These processes are essential to our life and health. However, isn't there something fundamentally disturbing about this constant equilibrating? ... It seems, actually, that what allows for consciousness is a certain type of pain, and this implies imbalance. Therefore, I am not comfortable with the notion of equilibrium as the singular goal. Perhaps this is the lure of free will, as it allows for the choice to offset equilibrium? ... Katherine L.

Continuing corollary discharge

8 April

I never had I imagined that "pain" would have an explanation through the corollary discharge system. It is interesting to think about pain, however, b/c it like many other activities are not completely reliant on outside inputs. As we may have all speculated over our lifetimes, pain may arise from internal sources, which makes it an fascinating topic given our exploration of internal inputs our the nervous system ... Michelle

I guess it makes sense from our discussion of phantom limbs (pain must be made in the brain if a body part that isn't physically there can still hurt), but pain seems very real and localized. So if pain is all in our heads, I guess that must mean that pleasure is as well. Which I guess I can also believe since often a woman's inability to have an orgasm is rooted in some problem in the brain (such as a need to be in control at all times) ... So how do we perceive pain and pleasure as two distinct sensations if we are sending identical signals that arrive at the same part of the brain? ... Nicole

if the brain held all sensations, why would we feel negative emotions like guilt or fear or anxiety in our stomachs? there are some that i definitely feel in my brain, like euphoria for example, i can almost feel the synapses firing during euphoric sensations, so why doesn't all our emotion get felt there? ... Geoff

Why do pain and pleasure feel different? They ARE different, sent through different neurons and synapses. Yes, the method by which the action potentials travel and the ions penetrate the membranes is the same, but the differences in paths account for the incomprehensibly immense array of human emotion, action, thought, etc ... a theory similar to the one that Dr. G talked about last class with phantom limb holds up with anosognosia. A motor signal goes to the target muscle but at the same time goes to a monitoring area (apparently in the parietal lobe, I'll cite this at the bottom). The brain gets no return signal from the targeted limb to tell of its position, and the patient doesn't register on that half of the body visually. BUT, the monitoring area has gotten the motor signal, and thinks the motion has occurred normally. So the brain can't distinguish intent from action. The conscious image of the self is just plain wrong ... Cordelia

Our culture tends to see our idols as someone utterly in control of everything about their body and behavior. Does this mean that we place a value on having complete control of our bodies, of having exclusive will power over each and every function? Do we implicitly imagine that such control is a reflection of desirability? If we value such an extent of self-control, is it because we dislike the lack of that control in ourselves? If we can control every aspect of behavior, does that imply some sort of superiority of intelligence, of having an I-function more in control of the brain? ... Danielle

I think that the desire to control our behavior stems from a more basic need to differentiate ourselves from our bodily functions and from other animals. Humans generally share the illusion that we are somehow special primarily due to our "superior" brain abilities. That elusive thing called consciousness - our ability to know, determine, and function cognitively - is therefore valued more than other biologically given attributes like instinct ... Neela

It seems that in our frequently conformist society, we are constantly being expected to act in a certain manner and perpetually be in control of our actions - and it seems that the I-function is largely an outgrowth of that fact. This consciousness of the self then can be interpreted as sort of a conformist mechanism that we feel we must have in order to be accepted by society (eg - our I-function tells us not to belch at the opera house, etc etc etc) ... Rachel

I know many people who refuse to ask for help because they need to feel like they are in control. And yet even though I say that it is okay for other people to get help, I become offended if someone suggests that I need help- that for some reason or other, I do not have control over a part of myself. Our society is so concerned with being independent and self-sufficient that we feel sorry for the elderly who cannot take care of them self and fear becoming that old and reliant on others. This also seems to be one reason why people deny that brain=behavior- they think that it signifies some kind of lack in self-control ... Clare

Recently I have been doing research on different government programs, and have found some fascinating statements that demonstrate just how much our society values control ... Annabella

Yes, my nervous system is doing things that I'm not aware of and generating inputs and outputs that influence my behavior in subtle ways. But I don't think that affects the fact that I have free will. I make decisions based on my entire sensory package; both inputs from outside and inside of my body. I just have to acknowledge the fact that my body and nervous system is aware of things that my I-function isn't, and get on with my life ... Amelia

I think the topic of free will is interesting because while we feel that we have free will in our actions, we don't have complete free will with our bodies. Whether we know it or not and whether we want it to or not, our body performs certain functions that we have no control over. We explain some things by saying that the person can't help that it is occuring, and I find it very interesting that while we try to control so many things in our lives, we can not help but do somethings like snore, burp or fart. It is these things which "humanize" us and remind us that, while everyone is different, and some people are more successful or pretty, even movie stars fart sometimes:-) ... Shanti

One part of the discussion that really caught my attention was how women are known to use "like" more than men. Now maybe its just me, but it never crossed my mind that people who speak very slowly and with lots of "ums" and "likes" actually use the word unknowingly because they have been natured and nurtured over their lives to be not necessarily sure of the facts because they realize that others will disagree, and thus they wish to not step on anyone's toes by being too assertive. A point she made was how a room full of women can have a dialogue that respects each others feelings, letting others in on their thought process and willing to mold their opinions according to what they hear. But when you insert even one or two men into that crowd, they tend to be overconfident and dogmatic in their views ... Arun

So maybe I should be more sympathetic towards guys...maybe they really just don't get it the way I do. That's what I've gotten from all of this. I do think we can all understand each other...but it may be necessary to consciously reshape our perceptions. As much as is possible, anyway. That could be instrumental in solving all kinds of conflict in the world ... Kate

Our bodies are continuously in the search for equilibrium. We find this to be true throughout many physiological processes which go on even without our knowledge. These processes are essential to our life and health. However, isn't there something fundamentally disturbing about this constant equilibrating? ... It seems, actually, that what allows for consciousness is a certain type of pain, and this implies imbalance. Therefore, I am not comfortable with the notion of equilibrium as the singular goal. Perhaps this is the lure of free will, as it allows for the choice to offset equilibrium? ... Katherine L.

Do we WANT individuality? consciousness? free will?

What for?

Beginning to think about "choice", "purpose"


More "getting it less wrong"
(Forum)
  1. I will stop using Pleurobranchea as an example (or at least present it quite differently)
  2. I will be more careful to be sure that examples I use are accessible to those with whom I am talking, and learn from "mistakes" ...
    1. It IS useful to notice POPULATION differences
    2. Male/female? Genetics/environment/culture?
    3. There IS a reluctance to/discomfort about acknowledging picking between alternatives without "thinking about it".
  3. One DOES have the capability to pick between alternatives without thinking about it (whether one acknowledges/uses it or not). Corollary discharge circuits DO (among other things) help to account for that. "Choice" in this sense is NOT equivilent to "free will" and does NOT depend on/involve the I-function. Being able to do that is a good thing, not a bad one.



Let's now reinstate reafferent loop, see what new things that gets us


Stretch "reflex"

Not an input-output pathway but a feedback loop

15 April

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 ... Kate

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 ... Irina

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 ... Michelle

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... 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 ... Grace

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 ... Shanti

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 ... Nicole

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 ... Patty

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 ... Zunera

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? ... Priya

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 ... Alexandra

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 implies that some of our actions are automatic without any conscious choosing. For instance, in the example of the hand raising ... 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 ... a struggle between the I function and the rest of the nervous system to be in control ... 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 ... Tung

At this stage, I feel what we know about the functoning 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 ... Priya

Have motor symphony, central pattern generation, corollary discharge, "purpose", "choice" without I-function
What more from motor side?

Many more boxes/tracts relevant to output side of nervous system
Cerebellum, basal ganglia as "loops"
Focus on
motor cortex

Role of motor cortex? Neocortex a second "voluntary" movement system?
"I-function" = neocortex?

Beyond motor cortex - more


Recapitulation:

Lessons learned "from the output side":


17 April

Expectations of what will be learned "from the input side"?

Recall sensory neurons (specialized permeability changes) constrain "view of reality" - ns only "knows about", "can respond to", "has information about" things it has specialized neurons to transduce signals about

Recall "labelled line" - see lightening, hear thunder because different neurons activated, send action potentials to different places

Vision as a paradigmatic case (is it? ... is at least best studied, and shows some general principals)

"Imaging" - essential role of non-neural structures

Have "picture" on retina, "picture in head" - What is the relation between the two?

Picture on retina and picture in head very different

22 April
I was surprised to find out that we acquire information/knowledge without realizing we acquired it ,,, So how much of our perception of the world is controlled by our I-function if the nervous system can affect it without us knowing? Is that where hallucinations come from? ,,, Tiffany

I'm reminded of last spring when my grandmother got glasses for the first time. She couldn't believe that my mother had "gotten old", that her own house looked slightly delapidated, and that she had as many wrinkles as she did ... Kathleen

And she answered: "I know I'm blind, but they're there, and I see them." What part of her brain was producing the image that she "saw"? If it had nothing to do with light receptors or pupils or lenses, how did she "see"? Is it still sight if the real image is not actually there? ...Laurel

From this we can understand that vision is not wholly reliant on our eyesight, but more on our "mindsight." ... Annabella

-it assumes that burger tastes like a burger, cause, well, it's a burger. Not because it's been decked out with chemicals. So how far can we trust our senses? Why isn't our I-function let in on all this conspiratorial fudging among the senses? ... Danielle

In theory the drug would not even be necessary if the I-function could convince the brain enough that the drug was there ... Geoff

I think it's really interesting to think that what I perceive as one thing may not be what others perceive it as ... what i perceive as being yellow may not be the same yellow that you perceive! ... Grace

The brain can thus be easily influenced/manipulated into believing certain things, yet there may not be sufficient evidence for it. The brain can quickly be influenced, leading to misinterpretation among many, often even resulting in confrontation/argument. This seems to be what often causes tension and disagreement among people ... Christine

so there's ourself and the idea of ourself that the nervous system has and clearly they don't always coincide ... Vivian

This validates the idea that some of what we are talking about as "made up by the brain" may be a result of other impulses from other senses ... Arun

All this talk of our deceptive senses reminded me of the beginnig of Descartes' Meditations, in which he claims that we should disregard all that we know on the basis that our senses are faulty. Although I had formerly only thought of this claim of Descartes' in a philosophical sense (ha), I have since begun to wonder over the neurological support for the separation between what we physiologically percieve, and the perceptions of our I-functions. Does Descartes have more of a point than I give him credit for? ... Kat

Another compelling question in this genre is "How does the brain created continuous experience from discrete mental events?" ... Andy

Throughout the course, we've witnessed the power and influence of the brain; the more we understand it and the more we are able to control our nervous systems through conscious actions and science, the greater the capacity of the I-function becomes ... Science is the externalized product of our collective I-functions' attempt to comprehend, control and perhaps ultimately conquer that which we cannot explain within the nervous system and that which we cannot explain through our senses ... Neela

I now see it situation as being two concentric cirles. The mind is a part of the brain, but the brain is also made up of much more that the mind has no part of. Now, I think that the mind is a great factor of behavior, but the rest of the brain, the parts that we are unaware of, are also involved in every decision that we make. This idea leads to another question. If there are factors that we are unaware of, and that we cannot change, in our decisions, are we really free? ... Adina

The very act of seeing which we believe to be almost entirely under our conscious control appears to be almost exclusively dependent upon the functionality of the brain. And yet, the documented dependence of visual perception upon directed attention to an object or environment leaves plenty of room for the members of our class to insert the concept of free will ... Erin

As it is, we realize that we must deal with the gap within our own brains (between the I-function's reality and the nervous systems's reality), just as we must deal with the eternal gap between different human minds. We have ways of mediation and bridging the gap, of course, like voice and art and inquiry, and it seems to me we have a responsibility to employ these means ... Katherine

Look in more detail at retina and interconnections to get more idea of how much picture in head is "made up" ... and why

Hmmmm ...

  • Noticing the "gap" ...

    Katherine: As it is, we realize that we must deal with the gap within our own brains (between the I-function's reality and the nervous systems's reality), just as we must deal with the eternal gap between different human minds ... The whole situation though reminds me of the final lines of Milton's Paradise Lost, where the two characters walk away from us, and "...hand in hand...took their solitary way."

    and learning to value it? Maybe free will and other forms of "getting it less wrong" in there?

  • Noticing a problem in the conception of the "I-function"

    Zunera: 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.

    Is possible (more than) that "I-function" misnamed (by me) because of "social conditioning" (mine). Doesn't affect evidence for all done without knowing one is doing it (unconscious), but does suggest a more general (and culturally influenced) mode of function for what "knowing" involves ... is a narration (story) but may well need not necessarily have "I" at the center (Julian Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind).

  • Bottom line:

    How to guess well: using multiple perspectives ... to add depth
    Binocular stereopsis
    resolving conflict
    But ...
    creating ambiguity
    Nervous system always has five ways to do the same thing - multiple depth cues

    Ambiguity as fundamental in seeing, sensory systems generally
    Can be reduced by using multiple cues, not eliminated (a "useful" gap?)

    The issue of color, or

    This is not yellow

    or

    When is red not red?

    or

    Is color an aspect of physical "reality" or "made up" by the nervous system?

    Physical "reality"

    Neurobiological reality - wavelength /= color
    As it is, we realize that we must deal with the gap within our own brains (between the I-function's reality and the nervous systems's reality), just as we must deal with the eternal gap between different human minds ... Katherine

    Still, as much as we knew that the "correct" answer was that they were the same color boxes, by just looking they appeared very different. Like Stephanie said, "Even when our I-functions know that there is a trick involved the results are still the same." ... Nicole

    It was strange to think that what our nervous system tells us we see is not actually what either of our eyes our seeing. In fact, it is a combination of the two, somewhere in between. Moreover, the idea that color itself is not necessarily a distinct thing makes me feel somewhat lost in a world that does not seem as physical and concrete as I had once thought ... Clare

    Expectation of the nervous system, thus, plays a major role in our perception of reality. As a result, many of us, including myself, find it very uncomfortable to know that our perception may be "deceiving" as Clare has mentioned. I don't know about others in the class but prior to this course, my impression of the nervous system is that it helps us to interpret reality and the external world. Now, I feel as if our brain is our only reality. In this context, what is the difference between us who are considered "normal" and those who are perceived as mentally ill? ... Tung

    As some one who likes to be very much in control, it makes me feel strange to know that there are so many tricks up the brain's sleeve. It makes me reassess the nature of control, free-will, and just about everything that I was so sure about before ... There's an air of forbidden fruit wavering around alcohol consumption in the States, therefore people feel the need to go completely nuts when it's finally available. Our insanely high drinking age coupled with conservative attitudes is doing more harm than good ... Kathleen

    Something I find interesting about the idea that giving up control is so hard for us is the fact that drug use is so rampant in our culture. The use of drugs is of course accompanied by a loss of control, and drug users frequently acknowledge that this loss of control is exactly what they are seeking ... Cordelia

    Instead of stepping up to bat and taking responsibility for their lives, they use their substance abuse as an explanation for being out of control ... Don't have to worry about the real problem, and can completely ignore the messages from the nervous system--dulling the conscience (I-function?) ... Laurel

    With regards to addiction, I agree with Cordelia and Tung, respectively, that alcohol abuse is a way for a lot of people to be out of control and that "we desire control because our society has placed so much emphasis on it". Because our society is built on the notion of an individual maintaining self-control and constantly being 'in control' of our actions, I think that we must displace the blame of our 'actions' onto a substance. This concept of displacing or shifting blame reminds me of when I played the clarinet in middle school. I remember that it was the normal response to blame the instrument for playing the wrong note, when in fact it was me who made the mistake. I would displace my failure on the instrument thereby, not admitting a loss in control ... Jen

    In terms of control, Cordelia made a good point about alcohol abuse as a way for alot of people in America to be out of control and relax. I think that it is true that our western society and cultures put alot of emphasis on control, much more than the east ... But sometimes, our human nature of being wild and free just has to break through our sense of controlling it ... I've noticed that in countries where alcohol is restricted and controlled, alcohol abuse is more prevalence than those countries that are less strict ... Tung

    Americans are so obsessed with control that some may crave to release pent up energy by any means possible. Ironic, since we're supposedly the land of the free, yet a lot of us feel obliged to bottle up any true sense of freedom ... Enor

    Bringing us to the question – is it really control that we want? Or is control a smokescreen covering up an even greater need? ... Annabella

    the idea that one has no control can be overwhelming. Using substances that lessen the control that you have over your actions gives you control over your lack of control, if that makes sense. If you are purposely losing control, at least you can make sense of you lack of control ... Stephanie

    Subjective perception should not be considered any less valuable that an objective and universal mode of perception because our very ability to see things differently (and think of them differently) allows us to learn, change and perhaps even progress ... Neela

    And maybe if we all, as a nation, did a little more reflexion, we could come up with an answer before everything just goes way too far... Christine

    To follow from the ongoing discussion, it seems to me that it is really the CONTRAST between control and lack thereof whish really sparks our interest. It seems that we are living in a world of duality, where we want BOTH (control and non-control) ... Any type of discipline that requires practice, from training for a sport to playing a musical instrument, necessarily requires a distinct structure, self-control, and scheduled drill in order to gain the necessary skills and technique for successful performance. And yet the performance of athletics and art ... bring with them a great amount of freedom for the creator. Ironically, the amount of freedom perceived by the performer/creator is often in proportion to the amount of training and work that has been put into the final product. Thus, greater control and structure has ultimately produced greater freedom ... Contrast can be thought of as the "intermediate," as the space between the gap which allows for motion...and perhaps for free will ... Katherine

    I am beginning to form a concept of the I-function as our natural adaptation to the need to keep an illusion of control ... Anonymous

    just when I began thinking that we might not have any control, that we might actually be without free will, I took a peak at the "disconcerting...but liberating" link on the class discussion page and saw the ambiguous figures, which we spent time in class observing. After the brain sees these images and processes and fills in and neglects and alters, isn't there still a point at which we choose whether or not to see a woman at a vanity or a skull, a hill or a valley, Voltaire or a Slave Market? I still do not know if this is free will's opportunity for entrance, but I cannot help but believe that within the study of vision, free will can be found ... Erin

    Could it be that we're really just after balance? ... Sarah

    Back to Color
    Lessons:

    Reality always an hypothesis, checked and rechecked ... ?
    Different for different people?


    1 May - finishing it all?

    Where IS "picture in head"? ... where/what is I-function?

    Multiple ganglion cell types - more - multiple samples

    Retinal projections ... another ... another

    Partial decussation ... beginning to bring images together Topographic organization - more

    Multiple cortical visual areas

    Blindsight and its implications - Don't NEED "picture in head"

    Emotion, personality, self

    "Creativity" - making what hasn't been

    Becoming who one is ... ? The nervous system as a modeller/explorer; the I-function as an accelerator, an explorer of the explorer

    AND, "in the gap" .... WITH some degree (enhanceable) of personal choice, free will


    The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
    For - put them side by side -
    The one the other will contain
    With ease - and You - beside-

    The Brain is deeper than the sea -
    For - hold them - Blue to Bue -
    The one the other will absorb -
    As sponges - Buckets - do

    The Brain is just the weight of God -
    For - Heft them - Pound for Pound -
    And they will differ - if they do -
    As syllable from Sound -

    Trust where you are at any given time
    Learn
    Explore
    Dream
    Share stories
    Choose

    And repeat, over and over and over again
    ("getting it less wrong" - its what your brain, and everyone else's, is "designed" to do)

    The Brain's Images: Co-Constructing Reality and the Self

    Many, many thanks for your contributions to a productive and enjoyable semester

    There are scientists who spend their whole lives studying the brain ... so I think we may have to do it too ... Gabrielle
    Leave final thoughts in forum area
    Keep me posted on your exploring
    Happy to have collaborators  


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