Barriers in Neuroscience?

David Longley David at
Sat May 27 13:43:02 EST 1995

In article <Pine.LNX.3.91.950526041326.8407A-100000 at athos>
           marath at ATHOS.MED.AUTH.GR "Nick Maratheftis" writes:
>  I quite agree that there will be some great discoveries in the future, but 
> we should also realize that there is a significant problem, some kind of  
> BARRIER IN OUR EFFORTS to understand our own mind' s nature. It is the 
> problem of a structure attempting to conceive its own structure. 

I agree that we place some sort of barrier up, I felt this when I was doing
my PhD work on rats, so it's not just human. But surely this is just our
holding on to our natural pre-scientific way of working with these notions.
In order to get a decent idea what the 'e-motions' are we will have to do
something like start to reconceive them as patterned behaviour in the
paleo-striatum along the same lines as we conceive fine, voluntary motion
in terms of patterns of processing in the neo-striatum. 

What I am suggesting is that the eliminative materialism argued for so
persuasively by paul Churchland is bound to have cost, and that is the
common (preconceptions) sense which we already use as hypotheses to make
sense of the world. What is especially difficult (the barrier) is that
our common sense wys of using terms is socially learned, and socially
sustained. It will be a long slow process of migration from new scientific
ways of conceiving fundamental aspects of behaviour such as emotions, as
a relatively undifferentiated way of dealing with claases of events, rather
than the way we do now.

I choose the above example to illusrate how, through a little work in
neuroanatomy/physiology, some familiar ideas which we all claim to accept
as common sense currency, amy in time be replaced by something closer to
the truth. I guess such barriers will only be broken through when we
articulate/explicate the mechanisms in a way which does better than the
fol notions we usually use - it's just that its a long, evolving process.
IMHO of course.
David Longley

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