biology and psychology

Ruadhan O'Flanagan rof at maths.tcd.ie
Sat Sep 21 08:55:40 EST 1996


Barry Bayliss <b.a.bayliss at open.ac.uk> writes:

>Ruadhan O'Flanagan wrote:
 
>> Barry Bayliss <b.a.bayliss at open.ac.uk> writes:
 

>1) If the functionality of the whole system can currently be described 
>   in an unified way, why is there no general model as to the effects of
>   drugs, i.e. to be able to predict what the effect would be of giving
 
> a patient a new drug (which hasn't be tested); behavioural level.  If 
>   there is, I have not been able to find one.

If you know what neurological effect the drug will have, you could
easily say what behavioural effect it would have.

>2) The 'association cortex' is not identical in everybody.  Even the
>position of
>   the motor cortex can vary up to a few centimeters [1].  There are
>differences
>   in association cortex mapping for males and females, which I have
>seen is not
>   a general statement.  (if you require references I can dig some out).

I think everybody would agree with that.

>3) The operation of the brain does not simply depend on brain
>interconnections.

No; it depends primarily on connections and inter-neuronal signalling. The
fact that the signalling depends on other things is more or less
irrelevant to explaining behaviour, memory and so on; in the same way
as quantum mechanics isn't needed to explain how a torch works, although
a torch depends on quantum mechanical effects.

>   We have neurotransmitters, neuromodulators to take into account as
>well.

These are only important in so far as they influence communication between
neurons, synaptic strengths and so on.

>How 
>   about genetics as well. (On a system level)  

Genetics can be responsible for minor variations of brain architecture
from person to person, and these can cause behavioral differences between
such people. 

>4) Which mapping modality(ies) are you referring too??????

Perception, emotion, learning, memory, speech, voluntary motor control,
cognition.



>> Have a look at http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~rof/neuro .

>Ruahhan,

>What is your definition of 'consciousness'?????

That's a tough one. From a neural/cognitive science point of view, I'd
say a consciousness consists of a functioning neural network with inputs,
outputs, a feedback loop, and some external means of getting back input
about the effects of the outputs.



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