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Gauss & evoked gross/unit activities (Part 2/3 of long posting)

Gabriel David Noel Postmaster at neubio.gov.ar
Sat Apr 6 23:39:55 EST 1996


So, on Sat, 23 Mar 1996 04:18:40 -0300, Prof. Szirko stated:

>Fred Zaman ... omitted all analysis or discussion of the
>evidences signaled to him in contrary. ... He also tries to
>elude the objections by presenting them as if he were
>summoned to apply a Lavoisier-Lagrange positionary 
>astronomy to establish deterministically the brain as a 
>system, and tries to "win" a point signaling that physics 
>changed since those perspectives were generally held, 
>presenting himself as a sort of champion of statistical 
>dynamics but omitting to provide even a minor account 
>of his successes in the field. 
>He claims to possess indubitable evidence to link cons-
>ciousness with axonal discharges ... No passed peer
>review nor experimental replication is indicated. He
>menaces to present his views at a gathering expressly
>designed to make room to speculation, but he fails to
>honestly categorize his presentation as such. ... In claiming 
>that "the magnetic field /.../ also may be directly related
>to consciousness" he tries to tell -to a hylozoist as myself!-
>that "consciousness is physical", seemingly because 
>of considering it necessary. ... He eluded completely to
>deal even with the issue of magnetic sources as generally
>envisaged in physics, not even discussing Schwinger's 
>treatment; ... Not only I find unuseful trying to further ex-
>change opinions since Zaman's evinces to have the politics
>of not reading what is addressed to him, but I find him
>lacking every aptitude to grasp the remarks pointed to him.
>to So in order avoid new losses of time I shall abandon
>Zaman on his monologue at this point.

By Mon, 25 Mar 1996 03:23:37 -0300, Kevin Spencer 
<kspencer at p300.cpl.uiuc.edu / kspencer at psych.uiuc.edu> 
raised a point that John E. Anderson <jander at UNF.EDU>  
had formerly set, as follows: 
> jander at UNF.EDU ("John E. Anderson") writes: 
>>jkeating at icon-stl.net (Jeff Keating) wrote: 
>>> I seemed to have entered in the middle of this thread.  The first thing 
>>> that comes to my mind is that any such hypothesis has to explain how 
>>> people can insert their heads into a 4 Telsa magnet, and not experience 
>>> any change in consciousness. 
>>I heard a lecture by Marcus Raichle about 3-4 years ago in which he  
>>said that people who did this became somewhat disoriented.  Don't know  
>>any more details than that. 

Dr. Spencer remarked in this concern that

>A few people, perhaps, but I doubt there have been any systematic effects 
>observed on the consciousness of humans in MR machines.  Other than 
>claustrophobia, of course, and that's not due to magnetic fields.

By then, Stephan Bonfield<spbonfie at acs.ucalgary.ca> on Thu,
21 Mar 1996 16:56:50-0300 had kindly tried to explain to Zaman that

>such a theory you propose is simply not needed.  There 
>are already numerous avenues of research to explore.  Try, 
>for example, Gordon M. Shepherd's excellent book "The  
>Synaptic Organization of the Brain", particularly the  
>chapter written by Shepherd and Christof Koch "Dendritic 
>Electrotonus and Synaptic Integration".  It directly  
>addresses the questions you raise and illustrates admirably 
>why there is no need for "kinematic" or "electrodynamic" 
>theories of consciousness.  Electrotonus measurements only  
>spell out the complexity of the problems inherent in  
>understanding the diversity of cellular types and synaptic 
>organization in brain  .... you are perhaps unaware
>of the larger systems of cortical organization and 
>the recent literature expounding the various theories. 
>If you are interested in this try Christof Koch's and
>Joel L. Davis' "Large-scale Neuronal Theories of the  
>You may also want to look at Shepherd's "Foundations of the 
>Neuron Doctrine", Patricia Churchland and Terence J. 
>Sejnowski's "The Computational Brain".  Above all, you may 
>wish to question the grand unified field thinking that you 
>are doing with repect to consciousness by reading  
>Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini's book recently translated into 
>English "Inevitable Illusions".  It discusses that feeling 
>that you tend to project in your writing, that somehow,  
>you just know you're right about a theory. But it is a
>rightness that is an illusion created as a product of our 
>consciousness awareness.  Therefore, I would encourage you 
>to read some more so as to gain a fundamental grasp of the 
>problems of consciousness.

To this help, Zaman answered on Sat, 23 Mar 1996 20:14:21 
-0300, that:   "The avenue of research that I am exploring is one
that others apparently want to studiously avoid." "You think that,
because my thinking is so different from yours, that I must have
no understanding of what is presently going on, but this is not so. "
"Present theories simply are not dealing with a fundamental aspect
of the the central nervous system--the statistical dynamics of the
flow of multiunit spike activity and the relationship this activity
has with the rates-of-change and/or amplitude of the EEG and
MEG. " "neurobiology is today... essentially a pre-Newtonian
discipline that studiously avoids coming to terms with whatever
principles govern the macroscopic rates-of-change that characterize
nervous system dynamics." "I have a far better grasp of the hard 
problems involved in relating brain dynamics and consciousness 
than you imagine. Whatever rightness I feel about what I am doing
comes out of some 40,000 hours of study on the subject. I have read
more and studied more on the subject than you could possible imagine.
Perhaps instead of condemning outright what I am doing, even before
having any real understanding about it, you could start by first asking a
few questions about what I am doing. "

Facing this, Paul Bush <paul at phy.ucsf.edu> remarked (on Tue, 26
Mar 1996 17:20:46 -0300) that the confessed consistence of
Zaman's announced paper with the perspective of little men or 
women in the brain "is a bad sign".  Bush explained to Zaman why

> there is no possibility of relating the derivative or amplitude
>of the EEG or MEG to 'the flow of multiunit spike activity'.

and regarding Zaman's appelation to authority in claiming that
|> 	I have a far better grasp ...
etc., Bush discretely observed: "I could not possibly imagine how
someone could spend 40000 hours studying the brain then come up
with a theory with a central tenet that is patently ridiculous."

This earned Zaman his first victory, since his referential is not
a set of colleagues but that of laymen he mentioned. Gary Kelly 
<MADMTN at sisna.com> misunderstood the argument as aimed
to debarr Zaman's "scientific" career, and on Wed, 27 Mar 1996 
15:56:10 -0300 asked Bush for to "pardon me if I don't fall down
and kiss your credentials and diploma." "Oh yes mr bush I know
you and your kiss ass kind. ...Thank God for the unstopable human
spirit. Incidentally since you have such a closed mind why don't you  
also shut your mouth." This later obliged Bush to made known his
own opinion  ("So you were thrown out of science because you are 
too 'creative'?  I am sorry you are so bitter about it. ") But on Thu,
28 Mar 1996 00:10:14 -0300 Zaman charged with new "scientific 

In these, Zaman presented himself as if he suppossed that neuro-
scientists hold a negative attitude towards electromagnetics in both
structural and psychogenetic functions of the nervous system, because
"the electric force was seized on as a means of justifying belief in 
a 'vital force' by Galvani, Mesmer and others".  In this way he eluded 
discussing the technical points. "Let the decision about whether 
such an explanation ultimately does or does not justify a vitalistic 
viewpoint of life be left to philosophers and divinity students (of which 
I am both, ". Escaping technical requests and privilegiating explanation 
over validity, Zaman also addressed to Paul Bush the following 
scientific exchanges:

> an electrodynamic account of  mind and brain that explains
> a wide range of scientific data should also be acceptable
> to anyone with a truly scientific attitude, whatever metaphysics
> is consistent with this account. ... Only dogmatists will try to
> enforce a particular metaphysics (such as the doctrine that the
> "inner self" cannot physically exist), as you do.
> you also obviously have a great personal distaste for (Marcel 
> Verzeano's research) ... Many of Verzeano's contemporaries 
> also had a great distaste for his findings (E. R. John was
> a notable exception). Their prejudice and bias showed through
> clearly in the discussion following his presentation at a major
> neuroscience conference in 1969, published in The Neural
> Control of Behavior (1970) ... Your thinking on this subject is a
> product of this systemic prejudice in modern neuroscience.
>The extreme complexity you see regarding the gross potential 
>and the firing of nerve cells actually is a manifestation of your 
>extreme ignorance concerning the fundamental principles of 
>nervous system dynamics. You should be seeking out explanations
>that can reduce the complexity of the  nervous system, rather than
>ridiculing them. You have absolutely no understanding of what I am
>proposing. ... Do your homework before you presume to criticize. 
>... it supports and reconciles with Verzeano's findings other findings 
>by Fox & O'Brien that seemingly contradict Verzeano's. These re-
>searchers found a different relationship, between the probability of 
>axon spike discharge and the amplitude of the extracellular gross 
>potential; but there is no contradiction between the findings of Ver-
>zeano and Fox & O'Brien, once you understand the (electrodynamic)
>mechanism that's producing them. ... your imagination has been 
>severely stunted by the indoctrination ... I will meet with you on the 
>battleground of scientific imagination any day of the week.
>	I have been preparing myself for this task for some time now
>(I have been studying Verzeano's findings and conclusions within
> the context of field theory since 1973), and I believe that I ultimately
> will and must succeed. (I admit to a certain amount of arrogance, 
> but for a good cause.)

In answering from a different node <paul at brubeck.ucsf.edu>,
Paul Bush remarked on Fri, 29 Mar 1996 22:11:26 -0300 that:

>introductory textbooks on neuroscience contain the well known fact
>that PSPs rather than spikes contribute to the generation of the EEG

and that he did
>wrote: 'The relationship between the gross potential and the position
>of the generating cells is extremely complex'. ... I would expect a
>clear relationship between the probability of axon spike discharge
>and the amplitude of the extracellular potential.

By this time, Zaman was clearly treating EEG/MEG as local potentials
around a measurement electrode.  He nevertheless continued discu-
ssing, although most of his writing contains rethorics to be deleted 
in this account of the former thread. On Sat, 30 Mar 1996 17:22:01 -0300
the student of divinity expressed:

>The essentially hostile nature of your postings is clear. ... if all you
>ever do is continue with your Abbot and Costello routine, you will never
>find that out. ... regarding the impossibility of explaining the complex
>relations between the EEG and the generating cells, Verzeano's
>research is telling us that such an explanation in fact is possible.
>So the idea that you can consider his work without bias is nonsense.
>... my paper... will give for the first time a description of a mechanism
>that can account for the relationship. ... 
>there indeed is a clear relationship between the probability of axon 
>spike discharge and the AMPLITUDE of the extracellular potential. 
>Fox and Obrien made that very clear in 1965. Verzeano also made 
>it even more clear, in several decades of research, that there also
>is a relationship between the probablity of axon spike discharge and
>the SLOPE OR RATE-OF-CHANGE of the extracellular potential. So
>how does one resolve what seems to be an irreconcilable contradiction
>... Scientists, those that are true scientists, do not ignore contradictory
>evidence. They seek to explain it, to reconcile the data. That is what
>an electrodynamic approach to nervous function can do.

                       (Capitalized words, not in the original. GDNoel)

Then Dave Seaman <ds005c at uhura.cc.rochester.edu> intervened
on Sat, 30 Mar 1996 18:43:14 -0300, contributing the following remarks:

I quite agree that the facts presented ought to be taken seriously.
...  In the end, the only thing that really works for sure is to have
empirical evidence. ...  The irony is that even though you cry on 
about how you're not being taken seriously, it's really hard to see 
any PROOF in the things you propose.  Tell everyone one extremely 
convincing fact that is NOT merely abstract, and that has been
proven in a laboratory.  Maybe this scientific process is elitist, but it
has worked.  Trying to discount theories is a large part of science. 

On Mon, 1 Apr 1996 01:20:33 -0300, Zaman responded to Dave Seaman,
informing publicly regarding the thread that

> It was not my intention to present through this email discussion
> the formal presentation of a postulate and supporting evidence.
>... The absence of any effect due to a large magnet nearby, without
>any understanding of the electromagnetic organization of the nervous
>system's endogenous fields produced by neuronal sources, by itself
>proves nothing. You say my "emf theory" is just a philosophical revamping
>of earlier ideas, but this simply is not true. Giving one example, there are
>a number of questions regarding the relations of neuronal spikes (axon)
>and waves (synaptic) that remain unresolved today, but are readily
>explained by this theory. Do you understand exactly under what conditions
>the axon spike probabality will be related to the synaptic wave amplitude,
>and under what conditions the axon spike activity is related to the synaptic
>wave slope? ... The theory also gives a logical reason for several aspects
>of the cortex architecture, once the possibility of an electromagnetic
>account is admitted and investigated. ... It does explain the statistical 
>relationship between the axon spike activity and synaptic graded waves 
>documented in decades of research.
>Verzeano's findings have not been explained by any present model or
>theory. This was confirmed in direct conversation with one of the scientists
>involved--the mechanism responsible for this relationship is unknown

(On a later posting, Zaman said of Verzeano: "I talked with him briefly 
shortly after he retired. "  I find it difficult to establish if Zaman was merely
"captured" on a field he does not command, or if things deserve further
attention notwithstanding Zaman's intervention.) Zaman continued:

> An electromagnetic model in fact accounts for ... the relationship 
>between neuronal pulses (axon spikes) and waves (PSPs). It shows 
>why there can be seeming contradictory data, with the spikes sometimes 
>being statistically related to the wave amplitude and sometimes being 
>statistically related to the wave slope or time rate of change.

At this moment Dr. Kevin Spencer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign <kspencer at p300.cpl.uiuc.edu / kspencer at psych.uiuc.edu> 
posted on Sat, 30 Mar 1996 20:53:34 -0300:

>I would like to make a suggestion to the person who began this thread
>and to everyone else reading this newsgroup, that when you post your pet
>theory, since this is a *scientific* newsgroup, how about describing the
>predictions your theory makes?  If you have a scientific theory, it will
>generate *testable* hypotheses.
>Maybe these hypotheses aren't yet testable with today's technology, but I
>think it would greatly increase the signal-to-noise ratio on this newsgroup
>if theories were presented clearly, concisely, and with emphasis on testa-
>bility.  Then you can have your fun with philosophy.
>Just my 2 cents.

To Dr. Spencer's, Zaman answered on Mon, 1 Apr 1996 23:19:24 -0300:

>... A summary of the theory follows:
>(1) The flow of neuronal multiunit spike activity through the 
> nervous system, representing an "equivalent magnetic current,"
> is the basic currency of the self's inner discourse. The deve-
> lopment of pathways or patterns of synaptic activation with low 
>"magnetic conductivity" is the means by which such discourse
> is made possible.
>(2) The global control of self discourse may be a high-level
> order parameter, which perhaps is the nervous system's magnetic 
> or MEG field, that determines at each moment the flow
> of  magnetic current through the nervous system.
>(3) The high-level control of nervous system activation by 
> the MEG field may constitute a "psychobiomagnetic dynamo"
> that regulates the self's inner discourse in terms of electro-
> magnetic principles. The principles of classical mechanics,
> such as Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, also
> may be employed.
>(4) ...
>(5) The "self energy" of the nervous system  may have both
> classical and quantum properties. ... The control of self thus
> may involve a combination of both continuous (classical)
> processes and discontinuous (quantum) processes.
>(6) ... the classical aspect of this concept is based on, and explains
> for the first time, the results ... on the spatiotemporal relations of 
> nerve cell discharge and postsynaptic excitation. ...
>(7) the starting point, in the development of an electromagnetic
> theory of self, clearly lies in the development of a verifiable
> electromagnetic account of the spatiotemporal interactions
> between the nervous system's "pulse activity" and "wave activity," 
>on which nervous system dynamics is known to be based.

This by no means coincide with what I (GDN) believe to remember from
Verzeano.  In particular, the assertion that "The development of 
pathways or patterns of synaptic activation with low "magnetic conductivity"
is the means by which such discourse is made possible." requires 
magnetic monopoles, among which the forces ought to be superstrong
instead than electroweak; compare Schwinger.

     (End of part two of three in a divided long message)

Lic. Gabriel David Noel
<postmaster at neubio.gov.ar>
Institute for Advanced Study,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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