Re: Research With Drosophila Provides Clues to Enhancing Human Memory

From: Dace (
Date: Fri Dec 07 2001 - 18:35:40 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Research With Drosophila Provides Clues to Enhancing Human Memory
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    > I thought I sent this on a year ago, but maybe I didn't....

    > - Wade

    > *********
    > Vol. 284 No. 22, December 13, 2000

    > Research With Drosophila Provides Clues to Enhancing Human Memory


    > The unit even has a tiny elevator that transports the flies from one
    > stage of the experiment to another.

    Wow, I'm really impressed. I guess these guys are just too smart for me!

    Seriously, Wade. What do you think all this proves? At no point in the
    article is the actual form of a stored memory discussed. It's the same old
    stuff they've been generating for fifty years. We know the mental property
    of memory involves various neural and genetic activities. I don't want to
    disparage the work of thousands of committed neuroscientists, particularly
    the important research being carried out at the world-class lab at Cold
    Spring Harbor. But the strides toward identifying a possible therapy for
    memory loss says nothing whatsoever as to the actual nature of memory. It's
    all about enhancing memory, not explaining it. It's technology, not

    No one is claiming we can recognize and isolate memories in the brain. By
    contrast, it's no trouble at all finding stored information in computer
    banks. Of course, that's because we know what we're looking for. That we
    don't find them in brains doesn't prove they're not there. The point is
    that we have no reason to believe they are there either. Until we have
    evidence, we must withhold judgment. It's called science. You don't jump
    to conclusions. You don't believe what seems right to you. Belief follows
    fact, not preconception.

    It's not as if this belief is in any way compelling or even plausible.
    Think about the stupendous complexity involved in a neural mechanism that
    creates and stores memories in real-time. It's not just the difficulties of
    long-term storage of information. There's a continual recording of events
    which are saved briefly and, if not transfered to long-term memory, become
    erased. Where is all this going on? Where is the short-term recording
    device? Where are the memories, and what do they look like? Where's the
    transfering device? And what about unconscious, habitual memory? The other
    day I was walking down a steep, wooded hillside. Periodically, I would turn
    back to see the route I was taking. That way, when it was time to go back
    up the hill, I'd be able to find my way. It's just something I've learned
    to do after several excursions to that area. Then all of a sudden I
    remembered... on my previous visit I had discovered another way up to the
    horse trail without having to go back the way I came. So it hadn't been
    necessary to keep checking over my shoulder like that. Habit tends to trump
    conscious recall. When I think of the year, I still habitually start with
    "19," then correct myself with "two thousand." Learned habit and conscious
    recall are closely entwined. We can certainly imagine a pair of neural
    systems-- one for habit and the other for recall-- that coordinate their
    functioning and exchange information. But what about instinctive habit?
    Clearly there's not much separating a learned behavioral pattern from one
    which follows instinctively. Yet, in the physicalist theory, the system
    that handles instinctive memory is in the genes of our cells, not just brain
    cells, but all of our cells, copied trillions of times over and distributed
    to the farthest-flung regions of the somatosphere. How can one form of
    habitual memory-- learned behavior-- be stored by cells in the brain, while
    the other form of habitual memory-- instinctive behavior-- is stored in
    macrmolecules in the nucleus of every cell of the body? Until this is
    explained, the whole theory is suspect.

    Why should a theory of memory that denies its existence be considered the
    default theory, i.e. true until proven otherwise? Why should we assume
    natural memory is actually artificial? Wouldn't a theory that explains
    natural memory on its own terms be more compelling than one that replaces it
    with an artificial mechanism and then tries (and fails) to explain that
    instead? Memory is a function of two principles: the conservation of
    intrinsic form and the resonance of current form with past, similar form.
    In seeking to explain memory as if it actually restores the past into the
    present, Sheldrake's hypothesis of "formative causation" is clearly the
    default theory of memory. It's exactly the same with theory of life.
    Sheldrake explains organisms as if they were actually alive, not just
    machines that fool themselves into thinking they're alive.


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