[Neuroscience] Re: natural intelligence

Glen M. Sizemore via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by gmsizemore2 from yahoo.com)
Thu Jan 10 12:07:18 EST 2008

<rscan from nycap.rr.com> wrote in message 
news:79768e16-edae-4017-97e9-0b2a2ecb619b from e25g2000prg.googlegroups.com...
> On Jan 7, 1:08 pm, J P <gms2... from lycos.com> wrote:
>> What does "is to be seen as a set of motor program generators" mean?
>> What programs? Software programs? Who does the programming?
>> JP
> Perhaps, I should say that I view the brain as first a set of
> generators. Each generator is a group of neurons connected by the
> genome to constitute a circuit. A circuit that will, if triggered,
> produce a sequenced set of axonal pulses. This set of pulses will,
> when it reaches the motor neurons, produce a motor act...lifting an arm,
> or kicking a leg. The sequenced pulses I call a motor program. The
> genome constructs the neural circuit, a motor program generator. The
> motor program generator creates a motor program. The motor program
> results in a motor act.
>> You are using again the word program without showing who.what creates
>> the program. Are you implying that everything is coming from the
>> genome?
>> JP
> All life flows from the genome.
> The program is created by a motor program generator. If neuron "A"
> emits an axonal pulse that is outward bound, and "A: also synapses on
> neuron "B", then "B" will emit a pulse after an interval, say five
> milliseconds. This pattern of pulses, A followed by B, is what I call
> a sequenced series of pulses. One can think of it as a player piano.
> The holes in the roll reach the reading head, and produce sequenced
> puffs of air that move down the tubes and produce sequenced movements
> of the hammers.  We hear music.
>> This seems more like the physical description of a "human computer"
>> with programs that have to be "seen" by us. But how are we supposed to
>> see them?
>> JP
> You should not expect to see them, anymore than you can see the puffs
> of air. They are ephemeral. We can think of ways of making them
> visible, as computer engineers make a sequence of pulses visible on a
> CRT, but I think it best to just think of them abstractly.
> Ray

As I have said many, many times, what is wrong with what you say is that it 
is old and terribly limited. You seem to be saying nothing more than Skinner 
said when he identified operant behavior as "spontaneous" (i.e., not 
elicited). Add to that, the early work of Hamburger and others, and it is 
far from clear that you are talking about anything new. And, indeed, you did 
not seem to point to the fact that such behavior is not controlled by 
"external stimuli" - at least not in the way that elicited behavior is 
controlled by external stimuli (although in the laboratory operants can 
appear to be like reflexes).

What you do not talk about is how CPGs become linked or "blended" together, 
or how stimuli come to control such responses. Missing from your analysis is 
how "shaping" (differential reinforcement of successive approximations) can 
produce responses that, as a whole, would never have been observed without 
such training. I agree that CPGs are intimately related to operant behavior 
(this is really what you are saying, whether you know it or not, unless you 
are saying that all behavior is elicited), but I see nothing new in what you 
have said (except that the importance of CPGs for operant behavior is not 
widely recognized but is, in fact, a reasonable conclusion from the work of 
Skinner and Hamburger). Indeed, as I have said many times, you offer very 
little by way of explaining much of the data concerning the behavior of 
animals. Even the "physiology" that you offer is hopelessly naïve (the basal 
ganglia and cerebellum are intimately involved in such behavior).

In closing, you have offered a sort of behavioristic analysis of some 
phenomena, but such interpretations are now almost 100 years old. You are 
right, though, to take on the criticisms of idiots like "Alpha" who still 
want the "mind" to be a cause of behavior.

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