Cloak paper

Paul Marsden (
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 16:25:55 -0000

From: "Paul Marsden" <>
To: "memetics" <>
Subject: Cloak paper
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 16:25:55 -0000

Re. The Cloak Paper. For the record here is Cloak's definition of a meme in
Dawkins 1986 (previous post). Any comments?

"Memes are neural instructions of a special kind. Neural instructions, in
turn, are a species of neural control system. A neural control system is a
collection of neurons and synapses organised in such a way that, when
activated by an impulse from a control system at a higher level, it compares
a present sensory input to a 'perceptual reference-standard' (Powers 1973)
and until or unless the input approximates the standard, sends repeated
impulses to one or more control systems at a lower level. Control systems
at the bottom of the hierarchy send impulses to muscle fibres (and receive
proprioceptive sensory inputs from those muscle fibres).
If the control system hierarchy is adequately defined, therefore,
contractions of the muscle fibres usually modify some aspect of the carrying
organism's present environment, or its relation to its environment, in such
a way that the present sensory input comes to approximate the perceptual
reference-standard of the initiating (top-level) control system. At that
point, the latter stops sending impulses and the entire hierarchy is
deactivated (Powers 1973).
A neural instruction is a special control system whose activation
(behaviour) requires not only an impulse from a higher-level system (or
instruction), but also a specific stimulus or cue from its environment.
Like any instruction, in other words, a neural instruction has
cue-conditions as well as S-conditions [Survival conditions]
The uniquely defining S-condition of a neural control system or instruction
may be met by the behaviour of one or more genes and/or by learning
processes such as operant or classical conditioning. THE UNIQUELY DEFINING
OBSERVATIONAL LEARNING OR MODELLING (Hall 1963, Bandura 1977)[The capacity
to form perceptual reference-standards from the basis of verbal behaviour,
allows memes to be acquired via reading/listening.] When an animal acquires
the cue-condition and the perceptual reference-standard of a neural
instruction by observing the action of another animal responding to that cue
by approximating that standard, that neural instruction is an
interchangeable replica of the instruction emplacing the observed animal's
action (cf. Reynolds 1981 209-213). Since it may become part of a
population's traditional behavioural repertoire, the neural instruction so
acquired is a cultural instruction, or MEME." (Cloak 1986: 163-164)

Paul Marsden
Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
University of Sussex
tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279

Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission:

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