TMS Question

Matthew Kirkcaldie m.kirkcaldie at
Thu Mar 3 20:52:56 EST 2005

In article <rk8e21ltoju5og0iv4rrvtnp9n7uc4skoe at>,
 "Sir Frederick" <mmcneill at> wrote:

> I admit to that, though sophistry is sophistry though idle.
> What better is there when you're 67 years old?
> I've tried depression and blindness, sophistry is at least 
> potentially threatening to the hubristic bound primate folk
> (more fun).
> Direct stimulation of neural (inside skull) structures is a new 
> avenue (without physically poking something in there). 
> I am always looking for ways to overthrow the ancient
> folk paradigms on what it is and means to be human; 
> the old paradigms suck and are getting us into trouble. 

I agree with your intentions, but having been TMSed, I can say that the 
experience devolves into a comparison or combination of known 
experiences.  I would go so far as to say we can't experience anything 
radically *new* once the structure of our nervous systems have been laid 
down.  The idea of Kant's categorical imperatives floats into my mind at 
this point, but since I've never studied philosophy I'm not entirely 
sure why!

I mean, if you electrically stimulate a peripheral nerve on the forearm, 
it feels like things touching or stimulating the skin which it normally 
innervates, and doesn't feel like a "new" sensation except in that the 
pattern of simultaneous activation is not something we usually 
experience.  We place our interpretation on the activity of the nervous 
system by referring to the patterns we have experienced in the past.  
That's why Wilder Penfield's experiments yielded fragmentary parts of 
previous experiences, rather than the person being able to say "I'm 
having a qualitatively new experience which is unique to being 
stimulated on the brain."  Instead, we interpret the results of the 
novel stimulation method as if the impulses it generates were caused by 
the usual means of stimulating those cells or fibres.

At least that's my take on it, and I've experienced TMS - perhaps not 
with the goal of finding a new way to describe the experience, though.  
My example of the battery on the tongue was flippant but almost 
precisely equivalent to TMS in principle.



More information about the Neur-sci mailing list