the liver and the brain

ray scanlon rscanlon at nycap.rr.com
Wed Sep 1 08:29:29 EST 2004

r norman writes:

> Central pattern generators are widespread and are well studied in a
> variety of invertebrates.  In these animals, individual identifiable
> and named neurons are definitely genetically programmed to have very
> specific "wiring diagrams" and behavioral roles.

There seems to be some debate as to whether central pattern generators
must be rythmic. I prefer motor program enerator as a descriptor.

> It is quite likely that very similar types of circuits do exist in the
> human CNS, although not with individually identifiable and nameable
> neurons.  And, as in the type of examples you gave, they are probably
> important contributors (though certainly not complete determinants) of
> such low-level behaviors as breathing, chewing, swallowing,
> locomotion, etc.  The existence of reflexes also proves that certainly
> there do exist specialized genetically programmed wiring patterns
> between specific neurons in the mammalian and human nervous system.

The acknowledgement of their existence is all I would ask.
> There are enormous technical problems in trying to determine to what
> extent, if any, that any specific behavioral act in humans is
> controlled by or even initially produced by the genetically determined
> systems you describe.  And to imply that genetically determined
> factors play a major role in significant aspects of human behavior is
> to make a statement so fraught with political implications and
> possible misuse (with numerous historic examples of such misuse) that
> it does invite the personal invective you complain about.

Oh, God! I do not complain of invective; I only observe it.

I would point out that when we speak of a scientific explanation of
brain action, we risk not only being accused of political
incorrectness, but also of metaphysical and religious impropriety.

If we explain the brain and find no use of soul, then materialism is
idle, for men without souls (zombies) could not understand.

Meanwhile, we must work in the garden.


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