Signals in the brain

nospam.stenberg at! nospam.stenberg at!
Tue Apr 28 14:50:40 EST 1998

Dirk Wessels <d at> wrote:
> F. Frank LeFever wrote:
> >  plenty of factul data in books or journals (when you are ready for
> > scientific journals; start with elementary textbooks).

> My experience is that these elementary books just state the data
> that confirms their basic theories.
> The more data/facts become more interesting, if this data does
> not confirm the theories.

I think you have been reading the wrong kind of elementary book. If you
were familiar with basic neural signalling as it is understood today,
you would probably pose your questions differently; this is why Dr.
LeFever and I think you should read a textbook first. Also, you would
probably be entirely capable of extending your knowledge without the
dubious, often indiscriminate "help2 of netters.

> In magazines like Science and Scientific American, 

Ah. These are entirely different. Scientific American is popularizing,
and while the articles are easy to read and reasonably up-to-date, it is
not a front-line top-level journal like Science. 

> there were many measurements that did not confirm the "basic"
> theories, but were in these cases used for supporting the authors
> new theories. ...

Could be.

> Therefore I have begun with a different hypothesis:
> "Emotions are most important, then the "logical" signals.

I do not see the discrepancy. Emotions are based on neural signals...

> This seems to confirm the evolutionary approach, since
> even plants seem to have feelings (fear,.. etc).

Probably that is just a myth. Avoidance responses do not imply the
emotion of "fear" in an organism lacking a nervous system which is known
to generate "fear". I doubt even Aristoteles would have fallen for 
that one...

> (Since we are still looking for the "love" parfume, it seems
> that we have not found the exact process behind emotions).
> Maybe emotions is a more mixture of both electrical en chemical
> signals.

This sounds confusing. Neural activity is based on electrical and
chemical phenomena - why should emotions be anything different from the
rest of neural activity?

> But maybe I will start with my full hypothesis and see where we
> find data that seems to deny it. Therefore I was first looking
> for some more actual and representive data (and not those
> from magazines).

Again, you mix magazines and magazines. Reports of real progress 
in neuroscience is found in the peer-reviewed articles in top-level 
scientific journals like Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, 
Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Neuroreport, Brain Research,
Molecular Brain Research, Experimental Brain Research, Experimental 
Neurology, and a few more. 
  Popular magazines, books, so-called progress reports and congress
proceedings etc. all have their failures. Read them with caution, that
is, read them only when you know enough to know what is reliable and
what not. 
  Neuroscience has evolved in a hierarchical fashion during many decades
- building stone has been laid over building stone, and the structure 
of knowledge today is so complex that is is highly unlikely that 
someone without a sound basis could think of anything which is not 
trivial and not tried before. Creating a useful working hypothesis 
takes time. Attempting this without extensive knowledge of previous 
work is unwise.

Dag Stenberg
Dag Stenberg     MD PhD                    stenberg at
Institute of Biomedicine		   tel: (int.+)358-9-1918532
Department of Physiology                   fax: (int.+)358-9-1918681
P.O.Box 9        (Siltavuorenpenger 20 J)   
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki,Finland   

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