the liver and the brain

dan michaels feedbackdroids at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 3 21:17:04 EST 2004

r norman <rsn_ at _comcast.net> wrote in message news:<c79hj0pbuumgso14uup55ln4n9g9crfn4h at 4ax.com>...
> On 3 Sep 2004 09:53:44 -0700, feedbackdroids at yahoo.com (dan michaels)
> wrote:
> >Yes, it might be interesting to take a look at what is known regards
> >precocial animals, even if not ungulates. My root question is ... how
> >hardwired are the sensory systems of such animals at birth, vs how
> >much real-time learning regards sensory/perception takes place after
> >birth?
> >
> >From a natural selection viewpoint, it doesn't pay for the young
> >ungulate [for instance] to have to devote months to learning to
> >recognize a predator. An animal which can hide in a den or nest while
> >learning+development takes place doesn't face the same survival
> >pressures as an animal born on the savannah in full view of a lion.
> >===========
> Let's drop the ungulate issue. There is a much more serious problem at
> work.  Look at altricial animals, those who are incapable of
> performing complex behavioral tasks at birth whether involving sensory
> reception and object recognition or motor performance or some
> integration of the two.
> The question is:  how much of the improvement of performance after
> birth is due simply to the continued development and maturation of the
> nervous system, that is, to the further elaboration of the genetic
> program that was left incomplete at birth, and how much to actual
> learning and experience?  My guess is that for many truly altricial
> animals both aspects are important and it is a very difficult
> experimental question to sort out which component is more important.
> More likely, in many mammals (especially primates and humans) the
> genetic program is preconfigured to require learning as an integral
> component.

Yeah, I guess this isn't getting anywheres. You've asked and answered
your own question, and I'm still stuck with mine. Ce la vie.

BTW, I'm sure your answer is pretty much "the" answer. But actually
there might be 3 parts to look at - genetics, development [ie, as in
finetuning of the type Hubel+Wiesel studied in lid-sutured animals],
and learning [as in finally learning to distinquish a cat from a
lion]. My personal working-hypothetical model pretty much allocates
the latter learning parts to areas beyond the 30+ visual centers of
the cortex, which mainly function as visual pre-processors with more
or less specific functions in each. The outputs of these form the
basis of what is stored in later [association] areas. At least this
model is easy to conceptualize [and to potentially model], if not
wholy accurate biologically.

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