targeting at OMCL.mil
Sat Mar 6 20:12:18 EST 2004
On Fri, 5 Mar 2004 22:55:53 -0400, "NMF" <nm_fournier at ns.sympatico.ca>
} Thanks for your response. The point was really brought up when i read one
} of Ken's points regarding triangulation. Even though it is interesting and
} I agree with him that it would be useful. It just seems to me that we still
} end up having difficulty with interpretation the results. (This is such the
} limitation of our spatial and temporal resolution for measurement I
Direct interpretation, not really, if you follow your abstraction
you're performing. Implications, yes. The inverse problem.
} I am just skeptical whenever anyone advocates that they have a "complete
} theory of brain functioning". I mean any theory is embedded within
} statistical variability and probability. Actually many of the posts and
} suggestions that yourself and Ken provided were very interesting and
The smartest people know they know the least. They've learned enough
to see the edge of the map, and know far more lies beyond than behind.
Anyone with an all inclusive theory probably doesn't have that.
} You mentioned in some other posting that you worked with Pribram? I was
} wondering if I interpret that correctly? That's really interesting. Maybe
} you can provide us with some information regarding how he was to work with.
} i.e. what kind of guy he was and stuff. Also maybe you can chat about your
} research a bit. I am really interested. I have never met him but i have
} read his work before (like pretty much every neuroscientist has, or at least
} should). Obviously, it was very influential and ahead of its time.
Karl is a joy to work with and learn from. Think of the modern
Christmas time movies that show Santa dressed in a regular business
suit, for whatever reason. Karl looks like that, except the glint in
50% jolly and 50% mischief.
I met him when I attended his Behavioral Neurodynamics conference at
Radford University. I was finishing a master's in healthcare
administration at the time and was interested in the then new field of
consciousness studies. I saw him first arguing with Roger Penrose and
the president of the NSF at the time (I can never recall his name, he
was an electrical engineer) about the meaning of the word "energy".
Anyone who would go to such lengths to brings such great minds
together to try to smooth out the bumps in science by getting us to
udenrstand each other was someone I wanted to study under. I didn't
even know what he taught at the time.
When I next met him, I'd enrolled in the school and his lab, and went
to his office to introduce myself. He graciously greeted me and
invited me to chat. He asked what I'd study if I had a million
dollars. I said something about Penrose's and Hameroff's theory of
consciousness and microtubules (I knew that material; I'd been a
charter subscriber of Journal of Conscousness Studies). He loomed in
his chair and said "You have just as many microtubules in your BUTT.
You don't think your BUTT is conscious, do you?" So shaken was I that
I didn't realize for days that actually my answer was "Yes. I study
hatha yoga, where the point is to be conscious throughout your body."
I didn't expect this cheery gnome to grow so big!
I've seen him get worked up like that only a few times, and it's
always over principles of science (conclusions drawn without adequate
logic, if not data) or of conducting science (DARPA offering him money
to do what he wanted, then trying to tell him what they'd like him to
do), never personal.
He carries an enormous store of anecdotes about prominent scientists.
It's been a project that several of his students and friends have
undertaken over the past decade to try to get him to write them down.
They're invaluable insights into the history of neuroscience, and most
of them are hilarious. But he continues to resist writing his memoirs.
I think he thinks that at age 80, if he writes those, that will be his
last work. Hopefully, even if that's true, it will happen. Some are
too good to lose. For instance:
Karl Lashley was famous for many things, but one of the little known
was that he was terrible with animals, especially monkeys. He was
like Neils Bohr, in that he could walk into a lab with an experiment
(involving animals) working perfectly, and suddenly it would go bad.
The problem was, he hated the monkeys and the monkeys hated him. Karl,
Pribram, on the other hand, loved monkeys, and they him. When he was
Lashley's grad student, they would work together to clean the cages.
One day Lashley told him to go inside the monkey house and call all
the monkeys in, while he, Lashley, hosed down the cement patio
outside. Karl went in and called the monkeys. They all came inside,
but when the water started immediately went running back out. The next
thing he heard was "Karl! Help!" He stuck his head out of the hole in
the wall that the monkeys used for a door, and saw four monkeys,
holding the hose in a line like firemen, hosing down Karl Lashley.
I still consider him to be my mentor, but now also my friend.
By the way, his wife is the author Katherine Neville.
} I think its really fantastic to get these opportunities to work and interact
} with such great thinkers. I spent sometime earlier today with David Hubel
} who was visiting our university today. (for those who do not know who Dr.
} Hubel is. He won the Nobel Prize with Torsten Wiesel in 1981 for his work on
} the visual cortex. They also shared the award with great cortical mapper,
} Roger Sperry). We are having our annual symposium on the life and research
} of Donald Hebb and he is one of the speakers. Besides talking with Dr.
} Hubel about his research and science in general, I was really fascinated
} just hearing the life history of this individual. It blows me away, how at
} one time, the Montreal Neurological Institute housed many of the most
} influential neuroscientists of our time. It is just amazing.
} Unfortunately, two hours can go by really fast chating about stuff like
Hubel and Weisel's theory unfortunately led to the conclusion of a
"grandmother cell". They didn't specify it so, but that was the thrust
of the theory. Karl very much disliked the implications. One time Karl
was going to be on a panel with Hubel. He conspired with the other
members to let Hubel talk last, and to delay that as much as possible,
and to feed him as much wine as possible before he spoke. They did so,
and Hubel got well lubricated. Finally, when they let him speak, Karl
said "So, your theory implied these "grandmother cells". Have you ever
found anything like that?" to which Hubel cheerfully replied "Nope. In
twenty years, I've never seen anything at all like that!"
} Anyway sorry for the rant.
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