Re: Meme-supportive wetware

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 13 Nov 2002 - 15:05:12 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Fwd: A couple's work"

    >Ok here's the premise: Memes (however much of an absolutist you are) are
    >a useful way to move behavioural evolution along more quickly than genetic
    >evolution. I (as an absolutist) believe that our whole personality and
    >thread of conciousness is made of memes (meme-like things) interacting in
    >complex, fluid ecologies. So how does such a mind (or even the sub-mind of
    >a sub-concious beast that can learn) build an interface between the
    >meme(-like thing) structures and the body they inhabit?
    >I think (bear with me now...) there are *effectively* antennae that pick
    >up unreal (i.e. 'imagined') aspects of memes from the dominant memeplex
    >(stream of conciousness) at a given moment (leg movements etc. for running
    >for a bus for e.g.). I think that we can almost see these antennae if we
    >look at gross brain anatomy (i.e. we can't see the aerials but we can see
    >the listening stations):
    >If you chop your brain (theoretically) vertically and across just in
    >front of your ears you'll basically divide it (as far as I can see) into
    >mind and 'the rest' (sensory deciphering, movement and visceral
    >control - language is a *very* late arrival and I think that
    >Broca's/Wernicke's [er...] areas are a special weird case).
    >The change occurs around that central sulcus - the gyrus in front is
    >pre-motor, behind is motor (the one 'wired in' to your actual muscles etc).
    >I reckon pre-motor 'resonates' (pick a word) somehow with aspects of memes
    >and translates the message into hardware-speak. I say this because the
    >whole of your body is effectively linearised along that interface between
    >mind and the rest. Incidentally at the bottom(ish) is your hippocampus too
    >- responsible for making fleeting memes permanent but under control of old
    >centres (remember pleasure/fear etc first, then the specific mem(e)ory).
    Your division seems fine except for two things: first, you forgot the divide from top to bottom, with the top being the most lately added part of the structure and second, the various finctions of the brain (and thus the mind) are in constant flux with structures being dropped and rebuilt based on the interaction between body and the environment. I don't know how to explain the fact that a person can lose up to 50% of brain mass and still function as a human being. The remaining areas of the brain take over the functions that were previously being handled by the missing part of the brain. In addition, when a person loses a limb, for example, the brain rewires itself to use the area of the brain no longer needed by that limb for other things.

    So, generally, I'd say your structure is fairly correct but it is not the only structure possible. Somehow the brain manages to redirect many functions to other places when faced with brain damage. Another experiment I saw on PBS showed a person who was blindfolded for a week and started learning braile. The area utilized by the eyes (the rear portion of the brain) shifted to processing touch instead. When the blindfold was removed, the rear of the brain went back to processing sight (with a slight period of adjustment). In other words, the structure of the brain is capable of adjusting to the circumstances of its existence.



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