Transmission of Electromechanical Signals

From: Reed Konsler (
Date: Thu 15 May 2003 - 12:42:11 GMT

  • Next message: Philip Jonkers: "Re: transmission"

    > Date: Wed, 14 May 2003 17:51:10 -0400
    > From: William Benzon <>
    > Subject: Re: transmission
    > So, let's imagine Jack and Jill making noises over a telephone. Jack makes
    > some noise and Jill hears something. What's going on physically is that
    > Jack's phone has an electro-mechanical mechanism that translates sound
    > from his voice into electrical impulses. Those impulses then travel
    > the phone line to Jill's phone where another electro-mechanical mechanism
    > translates those electrical impulses into sound waves. This is the
    > situation for which Shannon and Weaver invented their technical concept of
    > information. Information in this technical sense can be transmitted from
    > one physical system to another.

    Let's extend this analogy to intrapersonal communication.

    During the conversation, presumably, Jacks brain somehow resolves to stimulate his speech apparatus to emit a sound: "dog." How? Current evidence doesn't support the idea that a single neuron is responsible for this action. How do the neurons in Jack's brain communicate? They use electromechanical signals. We have a lot of evidence that different areas of the brain are responsible for different kinds of memory and processing. How do those fragments of the brain communicate with each other? As far as I know they use electromechanical signals. Certianly, if we deny that telepathy exists between minds there is no reason to invoke it within one.

    One portion of Jack's brain has images of various dogs he has seen. Another holds an abstract concept "dog". Another has the word "dog" in a lexicon. If Jack knows several languages then there a more than one of these. All these fragments of the brain are intertwinded, connected, and communicating by the cellular equivalent of a telephone.

    In the same way that people "learn" by making inferences, so too do neurons
    "learn" by making inferences based on relative levels of neurotransmitters. Synapses that discharge regualrly are reinforced. Those that don't atrophy and are reabsorbed. Neurons that don't find sufficient connections to the network initiate apoptosis. There are very few neurons formed by cell division after birth, making direct physical communication of "hard-coded" information (genetically, for instance) impossible based on our present knowledge.

    All the associations are constructed WITHIN THE NEURON ITSELF. As you say,
    "No meaning is ever TRANSMITTED."

    > Now, you might wonder: "How can such a crazy system ever work?" We don't
    > really know.
    > More likely you're thinking: "Yeah, but that's just a technicality."
    > You're right. It's a technicality. But it's a technicality that FOREVER
    > separates mentalist memetics from science.

    And also, by extension, separates neurobiology from psychology.

    > But if you want to do science, then you can't talk that
    > way. And if that means that St. Richard Dawkins is talking nonsense,
    > with St. Daniel Dennett, then so be it. They're talking nonsense.

    From your perspective. The definition of science is created by the community of scientists.

    > "Who cares? The earth is flat, and only 6000 years old. What's your

    Who cares? The physical structure of the brain has nothing to do with psychology. Cancer, what's yours?



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