What the Neocortex Does
GaryForbis at email.msn.com
Wed Aug 9 21:24:59 EST 2000
"Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote in message news:39904caf.0 at ns2.wsg.net...
> Gary Forbis wrote:
> > Ray Scanlon wrote:
> > > That we can embroider their [the neurons'] activity with words and speak
> of symbolic and
> > > non-symbolic models means nothing to the neuron. If we keep our
> attention on
> > > the brain, it should also mean nothing to us.
> > I fully agree with this... (where "the brain" is read "the system of
> Of course. One is forced to use a little shorthand to get over the ground.
> Do we speak of brains, nuclei, neurons, molecules, atoms, sub-atomic
> particles, quarks? For us, I think that the neuron is the object of choice.
> For "amygdala", read "the neurons that comprise the amygdala".
> > > Those who speak of the soul (mind) can rightfully use words like
> > > to describe activities that take place in the soul (mind). But this
> > > to religion, not science.
> > but this sets me back. The account of symbolic processing and the
> > scaffolding supporting it seems to me like it is open to scientific
> > Sure, there will always be the gap between what could be and what is;
> > should the gap bother us?
> When observing the brain, the neuroscientist sees neurons in varying degrees
> of excitation. When looking at a brain in abstract thought, he wonders
> whether this abstract thought is a consequence of the activation of the
> reticular nucleus of the thalamus (the neurons that comprise the ...). This
> activation of the RNT halts sensory input on its way to the neocortex and
> allows the neurons of the cortex to activate free of sensory input. He
> wonders which neurons activate the RNT and which others deactivate the RNT.
> And is deactivation of the RNT what we mean when we speak of "coming to a
That's pretty cool. I doubt the deactivation of the RNT is what we mean
when we speak of "coming to a decision" because I interspersed rereading
of the prior paragraph with thinking without coming to a decision. I guess
I came to a decision in the sense of deciding to reread the paragraph (if
that was a decision and not just a behavior, no conscious decision was
reached but the behavior was observed.)
> It takes at least a minute by the clock for me to start contemplating
> symbolic logic after sensory input is halted. At five milliseconds to a
> synaptic event, that would be about 12,000 events. That is a long way from
> the exterior universe. (Please, don't invoke Wundt.)
I agree. It's a good thing computers are getting more powerful.
Still, that's a lot of data to sort through.
> Possibly we could set up an arbitrary division at say, 1000 events, or five
> seconds from the exterior universe. Anything below the line shades toward
> science and anything above it toward religion (philosophy).
The line should move with technology. I wonder if current technology
can handle anywhere near that division.
> My point is that we can make a useful distinction between science and
> religion. Useful in the sense that religious dialogues tend to much heat and
> little light. For starters, we could try to say soul (mind) whenever the
> first person is involved. I am a soul (mind) and I believe that other souls
> (minds) exist. When I talk of symbolic logic, it is as one soul (mind) to
I'd put philosophy somewhere between the two camps. One needs to
test and identify the limits somehow.
More information about the Neur-sci