the liver and the brain

ray scanlon rscanlon at nycap.rr.com
Thu Sep 2 11:56:43 EST 2004

r norman writes:

> Yes,  Ray, I DO give citations.  We humans are supposed to be able to
> learn from the experience of others.  That is a far better method than
> just trying to think up things on our own.

I value you citations. I have absolutely nothing against another's
work. I do think that a request for a citation is usually a putdown.
The requester has no intention of retrieving the citation; he only is
expressing his scorn at someone who does not share his beliefs.

Entrez PubMed is a great source. I use it.

Unfortunately, as I come to the end of life, time is precious. I am
usually restricted to survey papers and such.

To me, your reference to experience and synaptic modification is
unfortunate. It opens the floodgates to all the people who run rats
through mazes. I say again and again that the organism enters the
world ready for life. When the neonate draws his first breath he does
not depend on experience—the neurons are already there and

There is an urban myth to the effect that the brain is the greatest,
the most complicated structure known to man. It is no such thing.
Properly seen, it is a device produced by the DNA to get the organism
through life. In every animal with a nervous system, it does exactly
that. There are motor program generators, a filter of interneurons
between the sensory neurons and the motor program generators, and
motoneurons that effectuate the motor program.

What else? In mammals, there is the thalamic reticular nucleus that
can extend the period of filtering. This must provide a survival
benefit or else the mammals would not be here. This filtering
extension has lead to Plato's dialogues and God only knows what else.
In the end, it is only a happenstance of evolution like the inside-out
retina of the vertebrate eye.

You say my analysis is simplistic. I bridle. I say, simple not


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