Re: What does the mind/brain know?

From: Dace (
Date: Fri 14 Mar 2003 - 20:19:50 GMT

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    > From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    > Bridging the Gaps Between Neuron, Brain and Behavior
    > with Neurodynamics
    > Walter J Freeman
    > Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
    > University of California, Berkeley CA 94720-3200
    > Mesoscopic neurodynamics gives a clear
    > understanding of self-organized chaotic
    > patterns of neural activity in primary sensory
    > areas when significant stimuli arrive. These
    > patterns are created with each sniff, glance, or
    > movement of the head and hands. They are
    > triggered by sensory input, but they are not the
    > result of information processing, and they are
    > not representations of stimuli. They are
    > manifestations of the way in which brains make
    > and test hypotheses. The patterns show that
    > brains do not take information into themselves.
    > They formulate expectations as hypotheses and
    > test them by taking action into the
    > environment. They are not data-driven; they
    > are hypothesis-driven, and all that they can
    > know is what hypotheses were tested, and
    > what the results of the tests were.

    What this shows is that neuroscience is finally catching up with Henri Bergson. In his 1895 book, *Matter & Memory*, Bergson argued that the brain is merely the transferal of stimulations received into movements accomplished. Rather than fabricating representations, the brain is an instrument of analysis and selection. This is demonstrated by its neural organization. Neuronal pathways are divided between incoming sensation
    (afferent nerves) and outgoing action (efferent nerves). The sole function of the brain is to "receive, inhibit, or transmit movement." The brain causes certain actions to follow from certain sensory inputs, and if a particular action turns out to be inappropriate for a given input, a new action soon follows. In other words, the brain deals, not with representations, but hypotheses and the testing of these hypotheses, exactly as Freeman says.

    Interestingly, Dennett would have benefitted from *Matter & Memory*. Bergson explains that the reason freedom evolves is that the gap in the brain between input and output steadily increases, allowing the organism more play in dealing with given situations.


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