electromagnetic/brain waves

Zamanlf zamanlf at aol.com
Wed Mar 27 22:10:14 EST 1996


Dear Paul,

	Neuroscientists generally, as you obviously do also, reject
apriori the possibility of an electromagnetic account of nervous function.
The reason for this is historical, however, more than anything else. Early
on in neuroscience and psychology, the electric force was seized on as a
means of justifying belief in a “vital force.” Galvani, Mesmer and others
contributed to this unfortunate effort. When the chemically mediated
synapse was discovered later, the possibility of an electromagnetic
account of nervous function became discredited as metaphysical; and to
this date it appears that any effort to reconsider an electromagnetic
account is automatically tarred with the same brush.
	The neuroscientists’ present negative attitude towards
electromagnetics also is metaphysics, however. Objective neuroscientists
should not care whether or not an electromagnetic account of nervous
function can be embraced by those who are vitalists, so long as it is
founded on physical principles and does not invoke any nonphysical force.
“Whatever works” should be the objective neuroscientist’s motto. Let us
get on with the development of  a comprehensive account of nervous
function, and if electromagnetics can do this--so be it. It is in this
spirit that I endeavour to show that nervous function can be explained in
electrodynamic terms. 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, but not in this
forum).
	Your statement to the effect that any account of  nervous system
function which is consistent with the concept of  an inner self  “is a bad
sign” truly is a bad sign, but only for those who are intent on forcing
their preconceived doctrines on neuroscience. A neuroscientist, when he is
actually speaking as a scientist and not as a dogmatist, will be less
concerned with the metaphysics of an account than the consistency and
comprehensiveness of the understanding of the facts it provides. Whatever
metaphysics falls out of a valid scientific account of mind and brain will
be acceptable to any scientist that bases his or her thinking on an
objective rationality. He may personally choose to not accept a particular
metaphysical viewpoint, but he will not deny that other scientists can
accept it if they wish--and he will not ridicule them for doing it.
Concerning the present subject, 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.
	Now, regarding the scientific evidence on which my thinking is
based, you seem to think that the introductory textbooks on neuroscience
are the repository of all knowledge about what research on the nervous
system has shown or not shown. This is patently false, however. A given
textbook always reflects the perspective of the author, and what he
includes or omits is a personal choice. If a given author does not
understand, or has a personal dislike for, a particular avenue of
research, the probabality is high that his book will say nothing about it
(or misinterpret it, or marginalize it). That has been generally the case
with Marcel Verzeano’s research on the “flow of multiunit spike activity”
(spanning the years 1953-1981), which you also obviously have a great
personal distaste for. The evidence is there, however; a statistical
relationship between axon spike discharge and the slope or rate-of-change
of  the locally-generated gross potential clearly exists in many regions
of the central nervous system, and under many different conditions. 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). This negative and essentially irrational attitude
toward’s Verzeano’s work, which is not based on scientific considerations
and is totally unjustified from a scientific viewpoint, seems not to have
changed much in the intervening years. (Your thinking on this subject is a
product of this systemic prejudice in modern neuroscience.) One thus would
not expect to find discussion of his pioneering research in the standard
neuroscience textbooks.
	You say that the relationship between the gross potential and the
generating cells is “extremely complex,” but complexity is often, and
perhaps generally, in the mind of the researcher. In fact, it is the
primary funtion of a valid theory to reduce what appears to be a complex
phenomenon to a simpler model, formula or paradigm. 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. Your comment that “the spike activity that you refer to
makes very little contribution to the EEG” makes that very clear, because
in the electrodynamic model I propose it makes no contribution at all.
Rather than ridiculing, you should be asking questions. Do your homework
before you presume to criticize. As it turns out much of the complexity
that you see in the nervous system, after you learn to view things in
electrodynamic terms, has a simple and clear explanation. For example, it
supports and reconciles with Verzeano’s findings other findings by Fox &
O’Brien that seemingly contradict Verzeano’s. These researchers 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 Verzeano and Fox & O’Brien, once you
understand the (electrodynamic) mechanism that’s producing them.
	And finally, responding to your total inability to imagine how
anyone could spend 40,000 hours on such a ridiculous idea, it is clear
that your imagination has been severely stunted by the indoctrination
you’ve been through as a result of studying under those who apriori refuse
to consider (and attack by any means possible) any perspective of  mind
and brain that is based on electrodynamic principles. I will meet with you
on the battleground of scientific imagination any day of the week. I
think--I know--the time has been extraordinarily well spent.
	Paul, although I do not agree with your point of view, I
appreciate your effort to communicate on this very important subject. Do
not interpret this reply as an attempt to silence all opposition. I
already know this cannot be done, nor should it. I will greatly appreciate
any effort you or others make to honestly and objectively address the
basic issues I have raised. It is only through such discussion that
progress can be made toward establishing a general theory of the nervous
system. Those who deny that such a theory is possible, because “the
relationship between the gross potential and the generating cells is
extremely complex and there is no possibility of relating the derivative
or amplitude of the EEG or MEG to ‘the flow of multiunit spike activity’,”
simply put the task on others. It will happen. The only questions are
when, and by whom.
	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.)
I believe that a truly scientific theory of the brain that can stand
independent of EVERY metaphysical interpretation of life (Christian,
Hindu, Buddist, Platonistic, atheistic, etc.) is rapidly becoming an
absolute necessity--if our modern “scientific civilization” is to avoid
degenerating into a pluralistic society in which everything that man
desires to do is acceptable, for good or evil. In such a society it simply
will be undemocratic to criticize or limit the freedom of those who love
evil, because evil itself will longer exist--everything that can be
thought, said or done will be good. But this gets into philosophy and
morality, which bionet.neuroscience is not the proper forum for. I may be
chastized for even mentioning the subject here. I apologize in advance for
the breech of ethics.

Sincerely, Fred Zaman




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