Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore2 at
Sun May 16 06:29:37 EST 2004

RM: @ "Glen M. Sizemore"

I'll make my point a bit clearer.

Part 1.

RM(previous): Folks, Please... This is not very productive.

GS(previous): And what is "this?"

RM: It is the discussion about the basics of cognitive science. If you
state that
"The fundamental concepts of cognitive "science" remain
representation, storage,
 retrieval, knowledge, belief etc." (and I think GOF-AI and
Von-Neumann describe this pretty well)
then you are right. This is exactly the weakness of Cognitive Science
as seen in the Textbook.

GS: So far, so good.

RM: So. I'm studying congnitive science.

GS: And just what are "cognitions?" Or "cognitive processes," if you prefer?
This is not a rhetorical question.

RM: Everybody here is well aware of
the problems mentioned above. So
we teach these basics, discuss them and dicard them.
What we do is this :

We do electrophysiology (in vitro & vivo). If in Vivo, then we usually
do behavioural experiments usually of visual nature (Binocular
Rivalry, Depth Perception). We use cats/mice.

GS: Hmmmm....sounds like you're trying to get at the physiology of behavior.

RM: We do EEG and fMRI. We are well aware of the limitations of these
techniques and we usually hesitate to regard these data as "proof" of

GS: Well..I don't know what you have in mind by "limitations." These
technologies are ok, but what is really troublesome is that discovering
which areas are transiently more active when people or animals do certain
things (and defining what they ARE doing is an issue) doesn't get you
anywhere, really, at least not in isolation. The problem is that we don't
have a good idea how physiology mediates behavioral function. If you
collected fMRI data from now 'til doomsday, you still wouldn't know.

RM: We want to explain human exploratory behaviour on a bayesian basis and
couple it with parts of information theory. Does our exploratory
behaviour correspond to entropy in visual scenes ?

GS: Again, though I'm not sure exactly what you are driving at, it sounds
that you are trying to get at the physiology of visual perceptual behavior.
What, exactly, makes this "studying cognitions?"

RM: We try to build (physiologically exact) computational models of
certain brain regions. Thid is a valid technique to test how far you
ideas are true, as long as you don't draw to heavy conclusions from

GS: Let's far you have talked about behavior, and you have talked
about physiology..nope...I don't see any cognitions, do you?

RM: We're doing research in the field of "sensory substitution" devices
(mainly tactile interfaces)

GS: Now this is really interesting stuff. Do you know of O'Regan and Noe?
They're behaviorists only they don't know it.

RM: The AI section does not only teach GOF-AI but we're building
autonomous robots. These have won the "Robocup German Open 2004" and
they are very productive.

And this sounds like science & engineering in action to me.

GS: Well, I would have to agree. But it isn't "cognitive science;" not
unless you can tell me what "cognitions" are.

RM: Even though you are right that the textbook - description of Cognitive
Science indicates that it should be a dead field, I think our
institute is a sign that we can just go on. Cognitive Science (at
least in Germany) has uncovered its problems (mentioned above) all by
itself. Now we need to go on. And why should we change the name ? We
still want to explain human cognition !

GS: And what, exactly, is human cognition? Does it have anything to do with
"human behavior?"

RM: The growing influx of physicists, mathematicians, system scienctists,
medical doctors and die hard engineers to cognitive science (and our
institute) has brought productivity and clean experimental methods and
replaced the overcome ideals of cognition as a symbol manipulation

GS: Let me ask you this: Do we see the world, or do we see a copy (of
whatever sort) of the world "in our brain?" Do you talk about storage and
retrieval at all?

RM: Folks, Please... This is not very productive.

GS: And what is "this?"

RM: This : The discussion about what the basics are and why cognitive
science sucks ass.
I'll be glad to participate in discussions about neurobiology or
but it's a pity for the time spent on it :) No offense.

GS: In my opinion, the cognitive "science" movement is the worst thing that
ever happened to psychology, philosophy, AI, behavioral neurobiology,
anthropology etc. I think it might have also been responsible for disco.

Part 2
Citation :

 RM (previous): And another thing. Concerning the freedom of the will: I
 cause and effect. I believe that the past can only influence the
 future through the present. We live in a determinsistic world. There
 is no freedom of the will detached from the physics of the world.
 But we cannot predict the cause of the world nor can we predict
 systemic properties of complex systems. So we use intentionality and
 mental causation. And it works. I'm fine with that.

 GS (previous): Huh?

 RM (previous): Btw: Chaos-Theory cannot help you... that's why it is called
 deterministic chaos theory. You can phantazise about quantum
 adding a random element to our choices like penrose did (he mixed
 quite a lot of stuff up)... but do you want to be randomized ?

GS (previous): Huh?

to QQ :
 GS: You mean beyond our current ability? Or in principle? In any
event, this
 is largely irrelevant. By "spontaneous" I mean "not elicited by
 The spontaneous behavior that I am talking about has causes, but the
 are not stimuli in the environment. At the behavioral level, the
 simply occurs.

RM: Okay :) I have to admit,  my text was quite messed up. But your
response to QQ basically descibed a great deal of the things I wanted
to mention. The matter was "freedom of the will". And the idea is that
I don't believe in the idea that we are absolutely free to do whatever
we want. Our decisions are part of a causal chain. There are actions
that are not directly triggered by the current environment, but that
still are parts of this causal chain.
The last part abou quantum processes and chaos theory refers to a
habit of philosphers to include chaos theory and/or quantum processes
into theories of free will to escape determinism.

GS: Basically, we are in agreement here. I would say, however, that the
first step in understanding the physiology of behavior is to study
behavioral function with temporal gaps - i.e., a person's past explains
their behavior (in conjunction with a host of current variables), and the
relation between a person's past and their behavior can be directly
investigated. These are the facts that must be explained. Such facts are
largely the domain of the experimental analysis of behavior.

RM: Thx for reading my text.

GS: You're welcome. BTW, do you know the German word that translates to "the
soul of the nervous system?" It starts with "R" - something like

"Robert M?rtin" <robertmaertin at> wrote in message
news:85d56b27.0405160223.1885d517 at
> @ "Glen M. Sizemore"

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