Re: Nothing succeeds like success

Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:54:03 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: Nothing succeeds like success
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:54:03 -0400 (EDT)

Thanks for the references, Mike.

On Tue, 08 Sep 1998 10:10:38 -0400 Michael Best <>

> Of course things have not centered on social transmission. But there
> also is the very promising work ongoing at Cold Springs Harbor and UCLA
> (which I know has been mentioned to you before) to study the neural
> basis of social learning of food preferences in Norwegian black rats. If
> this succeeds it really will be a neural-based experiment in memetic
> transmission. So a rat learns via social transmission from a conspecific
> to eat casein and a little probe in its head lights up. Something like
> that.

Now that would be evidence of some kind of internal neural pattern
correlated with behaviour. I must read the references.

What do you mean by probe, though? If you mean something
electrophysiological, ie. neuron activation then that would be more
interesting than if you mean an immunological/molecular probe like the
fos antibody. There were a lot of people in Cambridge making rats run
round mazes or do other standard tasks from classic behavioural
sciences and then cutting out their brains and probing with fos
antibody. I used to go to quite a lot of these seminars, and as far as
I could see, the patterns produced were only a fairly crude indication
of what part of the brain was being used, certainly not the kind of
specific information you would get with a microelectrode. Also the fos
signal only comes up something like 60 minutes after the behavioural

Anyway I'll read the references and see.

There's also been a lot of hype about gene knockouts which interfere
with learning in mice. But these interfere with learning in general.
A former colleague of mine went to work with the knockout group at Cold
Spring Harbor, and he told me that the learning defects are often
fairly severe, ie. these mice are a meme-free zone. It doesn't quite
provide evidence of internal behaviour-specific neural patterns.

But again I'll try to catch up on the latest stuff.


This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)