Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

David Longley David at
Mon May 17 07:42:19 EST 2004

Yep, but then he studied one of that trio I mentioned elsewhere 

Sadly, whilst I agree that those working in specific specialist fields 
will do as you say, there seem to be large numbers of people in 
"cognitive neuroscience" who just don't have the ability to do that or 
just don't care. This, no doubt is a function at least in part of 
multi-disciplinary mayhem where many just don't have the skills to 
critically evaluate what is actually in the methods and results sections 
of scientific papers. Yet they appear to have been educated to believe 
that they can! They read what they do just as they read popular science 
it seems to me. They think they can send students off to trawl the 
"literature's" abstracts, introductions and discussions. for ideas (I'm 
pretty sure that people like Dennett etc do just that). I think this is 
a more serious problem than many might appreciate, and it hasn't been 
helped by the expansion of science, universities and the democratization 
of the Internet in recent times.

But then...... maybe I'm just getting old. The message from many seems 
to be that they just want to have fun, "old farts" like us are just 
trying to spoil their parties! <g>.

(oddly, some of them are much older than us and should know better 

In article <d44d3753e5f892015b97c43386d67041 at>, Glen M. 
Sizemore <gmsizemore2 at> writes
>The best was Dr. D. The upshot of his statements on why he wouldn't discuss
>such issues was, apparently, that I had thought about my position.
>Behavioral neuroscience has inherited from psychology the notion that it is
>a waste of time to analyze the conceptual foundation of cognitive "science."
>After all, if you are spending time actually thinking about such conceptual
>foundations, then you can't be doing experiments. Everyone just knows that
>it doesn't matter what you say in the Introduction and Discussion sections
>as long as there is a Method and Results (well that is assuming that too
>much of the Method and Results sections are not infiltrated by
>"David Longley" <David at> wrote in message
>news:3u5mU9FLWHqAFwfa at
>> In article <85d56b27.0405161400.1eac5c3a at>, Robert
>> M?rtin <robertmaertin at> writes
>> >@GS
>> >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.
>> >
>> >Okay. The problem about functional imaging techniques like fMRI or PET
>> >is that they measure metabolic activity indirectly and with a huge
>> >delay. They have a nice spatial and a poor temporal resolution. As you
>> >cannot do electrophysiology in humans, you have to rely on these
>> >coarse mesurements. If you are trying to correlate higher cognitive
>> >functions like speech processing with these data, then you are
>> >throwing around with big words and make big assumptions without solid
>> >ground. Those studies are generally regarded to be suspicious.
>> >We don't know how physiology mediates behaviour... If you had read
>> >what we're researching on... well what everybody is working on : this
>> >is it.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >GS: Now this is really interesting stuff. Do you know of O'Regan and
>> >Noe?
>> >They're behaviorists only they don't know it.
>> >YES. I'm familiar with their works. I'm also familiar with the
>> >successful works of Paul Bach-y-Rita. I like both. Of course tehy are
>> >behaviourists, too. But at least their theories work and Bach-y-Ritas
>> >devices work as well.
>> >
>> >GS: Well, I would have to agree. But it isn't "cognitive science;" not
>> >unless you can tell me what "cognitions" are.
>> >GS: And what, exactly, is human cognition?
>> >
>> >My God. I am interested in attentional mechanisms, conscious
>> >perception, binding, exploratory motor behaviour, visual processing,
>> >attention for action, response selection, emotions... I think whatever
>> >definition I look up on the internet... this would be quite a good
>> >share of "cognition". And if this does not suffice in your eyes...
>> >
>> >
>> >GS: Let's far you have talked about behavior, and you have
>> >talked
>> >about physiology..nope...I don't see any cognitions, do you?
>> >
>> >GS: Does it have anything to do with
>> >"human behavior?"
>> >
>> >Sure thing. You can't regard the brain detached from the body.
>> >External physiological reactions go hand in hand with certain tasks.
>> >E.g. saccades, nystagmus, ANS activity. We act therefore we are. Of
>> >course you have to have a look inside the black box and predict and
>> >explain what you see.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >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?
>> >
>> >There are retinotopic mappings of various forms to be found in the
>> >brain. However, I think that the world acts as an outside memory. I
>> >think you know the discussions. This is my opinion. No, I don't talk
>> >about storage and retrieval at all. These terms are very biased
>> >towards the good old computational metaphor of mind. But it might also
>> >be due to the fact that I'm not working on memory processes right now.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >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.
>> >
>> >Do you remember the part about "not productive". This is heading
>> >nowhere. Sry.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >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
>> >"reuchmarchsteele?"
>> >
>> >Sorry. Sounds funny... but I never heard it before and can't think of
>> >a single word describing "the
>> >soul of the nervous system". BTW: reumarch... sounds like a dutch word
>> >:)
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >. . . . . ..
>> >To make it short. You want to an explanation and a definition of
>> >cognition. You want it without behavioural experiments. These are
>> >futile because we "don't know how physiology mediates behaviour".
>> >You want cognitions... NOW ! Well... why isn't there anybody looking
>> >for cognitions ?
>> >There are people looking for attentional effects, for conscious
>> >perception, action selection, cortical plasticity, memory processes,
>> >emotions. And then they use electrophysiology, imaging techniques and
>> >behavioural paradigms to find out "how physiology mediates
>> >behaviour"...
>> >And you ask : Where is the cognition in there ?
>> >If terms like, attention, conscious awareness, action selection not
>> >comensurable with your big picture of human cognition... well these
>> >tiny little terms we try to explain are exciting enough for me.
>> >And if contemporary methods in neuroscience contain too much
>> >behaviourism for you... well, so be it.
>> >
>> >Here are short replies to the last posting... but I don't think we're
>> >heading for a solution here.
>> >I think we should discontinue this discussion. Please :)
>> >regards
>> >Robert
>> Is this a language problem here Robert ;-)? Reading this exchange I kept
>> asking myself what was going on. You began (a few posts back) by
>> asserting that you were a hard nosed eliminative materialist. I saw Glen
>> (who, as a radical behaviorist, is at least a "kissing cousin" in this
>> respect) probing just how deep that eliminativism actually went. There
>> are far too many fakes around in "cognitive neuroscience" who
>> appropriate anything that looks socially desirable and just end up
>> espousing a hideous pseudo-intellectual eclecticism which amounts, in my
>> view,  to something far worse (logically incoherent and empirically
>> unfalsifiable) than honest (but misguided) mentalism. At times (in just
>> some of your responses), you seem to come close to doing just this, and
>> your pleas for Glen to stop probing make it look like you just don't
>> want to have your weakness exposed <g>.
>> --
>> David Longley

David Longley

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list