Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

Robert M?rtin robertmaertin at
Tue May 18 04:23:05 EST 2004

Okay... As David already said... there seems to have been a littly
language problem from my side.
I thought you were using the terms Behaviourist and the allusions of
"behaviour" in a sarcastic manner.
So I concluded that you were insulting O Regan and Noe as well as well
as making fun of the techniques employed by us.
I thought you wanted answers to "what is cognition" instead of neuro -
behavioural data. I thought you were one of thos persons asking for
the whole cake at once (e.g. Explain Language and Cognition !!!!).

But instead you were critizising that the terms I use were ill-chosen
(experiments with attention, consciousness) and a bit detached from
I am sorry.
I know what you mean and I think its not a bad thing and be cautious
and leave out the big terms like consciousness and cognition when
working on neurophysiological machanisms.

To make is sound a little less boastful. Here are some terms I was
talking about de-composed :

1. I talked about experiments on the consciousness. Well. Usually all
one does is in fact work with multistable phenomena of conscious
perception. This is usually done with binocular rivalry experiments.
You may then use fMRI or electrophysiology (animals) combined with
behavioural tasks to check for the percepts (e.g. look for face
activation in ffa vs. soemthing else) to find out how one perception
may dominate the other.
Of course this is not the definition of consciousness, but that is
what I meant when talking about "research on conscious perception".
I will replace this term in the future with "binocular rivalry" or
"multistable phenomena" experiments.

2. When I mentioned attention, of course there is a huge behavioural
paradigm behind it. One may assume certain attentional effects that
have effect on subject performaance (signal enhancement or reduction
of noise). Usually one looks for a behavioural paradigm enabling us to
follow attentional loci and then looks for neural correlates which may
then be manipulated (lesion, TMS, buzzing). Okay... I shall call this
in future looking for neural correlates of attentional mechnaisms.

3. emotions. Well... let's now call it neural correlates of fear
conditioning in rats :)
   If I'm being honest, this is pretty detached form "explainign
   Of course there is Damasio and stuff, but that's not active

4. attention for action. This is a nice one, I'll keep it. What I
meant was that you do some delayed conditional tasks
and look neuronal linkages between stimuli features/categories
responsiveness and Go/NoGO/MotorPreparation/MotorExecution
specialization. These may then underly attention for action. Okay...
only an idea, but a compelling one. Then you can lesion !

Okay... perhaps that does not sound like something you may call
"Cognitive" Science. But it sure is interesting.

Concerning O Regan and Noe : I don't know what you meant that they
were behaviouralists... I am used to this term to be used as an insult
(like dualist, creationist have become insults to some).
But I love their theories on sensorimotor contingencies. I think some
of their newer publications are cool as well, but I liked the loose
framework of smc's. I have always been a fan of brain-computer devices
in clinical application (e.g. EEG-BCI at Tübingen). So Bach-y-Rita's
was known to me before I stumbled upon Regan&Noe.
One of our Professors who worked with Wolf Singer on binding by
synchronization introduced me to their ideas. Even though I was into
binding by synchronization during that time, it immediately struck me
that perhaps binding and filling in and all the hard stuff... could be
explained away. Ever since I regarded the idea of ssc's as a loose
basis for my understanding of the nervous system.
Now... what do you mean by "they are behaviourists"?

Again : sorry for the confusion. 

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