Re: Psychedelics and memes

Chris Lofting (
Mon, 14 Jun 1999 22:43:31 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Psychedelics and memes
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 22:43:31 +1000

-----Original Message-----
From: Gatherer, D. (Derek) <>
To: '' <>
Date: Monday, 14 June 1999 5:29
Subject: RE: Psychedelics and memes

>Chris (previous):
>When we review the developmental processes involved in information
>processing so the dendrites-axon interaction is repeated at the next scale
>in the form of neural networks that synchronise and function as if a
>Yes, I hadn't thought of neural networks that way before, but now that you
>mention it, their integrative all-or-nothing output properties are
>reminiscent of neurons......
>Chris (previous):
>This seems to have been abstracted 'all the way up' to the level where
>interactions are expressed in the 'object/relationship' categorisation
>system we see in the neocortex.
>I'm still not sure I can swallow this next step. For instance PET scanning
>has revealed that different parts of the brain are activated when an object
>is named aloud, named silently, seen but not named etc. [Incidentally I
>think that this is an important piece of evidence against internalist
>memetics, but that's a digression]. The point
>I am making is that even object categorizations alone are diffuse and
>difficult to pin down.


Here is where I think the thread concept seems to cover things. For example,
zoom-in on the frontal lobes of either hemisphere and you 'see' (when using
dyes) 'interdigitation' where links from the left are woven with links from
the right. See for example the work of

Goldman-Rakic, P.S., (1984) "Modular organization of the prefrontal cortex"
IN Trends in Neurosciences Nove 1984 pp 419-424

as well as

Goldman-Rakic,P.S., and Friedman, H.R., (1991) "The Circuitry of Working
Memory Revealed by Anatomical and Metabolic Imagery" IN Levin,H.S.,
Eisenberg,H.M., Benton,A.L., (Eds)(1991) "Frontal Lobe function and
disfunction" OUP

When you use the dyes so the patterns cover the whole of the neocortex where
once we just though this 'banding' was only in the left and right visual
field areas in the visual cortex.

The emphasis on left/right ear, eye etc favours the arguement that the
brain-mind has abstracted these processes into the fundamental dichotomy of
1:many manifest in the distinction of text from context (for the eye this is
in the form of fovea(text, detail, foreground, precision) vs parafovea
(background, context, peripheral vision, approximations))

When you view the rCBF studies you do 'see' patterns that go along with this
model (see for example Posner,M.I., Raichle, M.E., (1994) "Images of Mind"
Scientific American Library. IF you join you get access to
on-line copies of a number of "Trends.." journals that are also useful in
supporting the model).

My emphasis is on complexity and so we 'move' from a raw LEFT-RIGHT
distinction at the posterior parts of the brain to a refined
'interdigitation' of the left and right.

LRLRLR-LRLRLR anterior (frontal lobes)

Due to the connectivity of the neural systems so the general distinctions at
the 'back' create BIASES in behaviour such that the left IS more 'object'
oriented and the 'right' is more relationships oriented. These biases seem
to emerge as a result of feedback from the environment at an early age.
(this gets into the neuron culling process about years 10-12 that can go
towards particularising learnt algorithms/formulas. The LANGUAGE you learn
first can therefore 'structure' your information processing; the general
object/relationship patterns that seem to be hard-coded are 'refined' to
deal with local context that includes language. For example there are terms
in Finnish (and I think Hungarian) that are not precise subject/object
oriented and so cause translation problems; love to 'check-out' their
frontal lobe patterns!

Have you read anything on Tsunoda's work in Japan? (1980s) His work
suggested that the general neurological functioning of Japanese-trained and
Polenysian-trained individuals was 'different' to the rest. This had nothing
to do with 'race' in that caucasians raised speaking Japanese seemed to have
this functioning, whereas Japanese raised in the US did not - they had 'US'
brains. (some US linguists have attacked Tsunonda as a Japanese nationalist
trying to show the 'uniqueness' of the Japanese but the Polenysian link puts
a hole in that and current neurological analysis does favour subtle
processing distinctions in languages that show left/right biases)

One thing that is noticeble in Japanese is the Kana/Kanji distinction where
one is tonal and the other more 'visual' in that it requires context
analysis to determine intended meaning (as with all indeograms). This leads
to a demand to 'oscillate' analysis where the ideograms are 'right' brain
processed since this side is better at relational analysis

Interestingly, the frontal lobes seem to serve as 'buffers' for I/O and all
of our I/O in language is structured along linking object-relationship
(noun-verb) concepts.

The presences of complexity et in the brain-mind is covered in:

Scott-Kelso, J.A. (1995) "Dynamic Patterns : The Self-Organisation of Brain
and Behaviour" MITP

>Chris (previous):
>The development process of the brain-mind reflects complexity at work where
>feedback processes lead to the 'emergence' of 'new' structures that have
>SAME general methods of functioning as those processes from which they
>emerge but with 'refinements' (abstractions) that come about as a result of
>the more refined context that is able to support them.
>This is not implausible, but I'm not sure how one would test such a theory.
>It seems too unspecific. For instance...
>Chris (previous):
>For example, when we analyse the general behavioural characteristics of the
>so-called reptilian brain we see characteristics that are reflected at a
>finner level in the left hemisphere of the neocortex -- waypoint mapping,
>conservative, tried-and-true methods, 1:1 behaviour (stimulus leads to the
>same intensity of response regardless of scale.)
>Again I agree, but what does this tell us apart from the fact that our
>brains are a little more sophisticated than those of reptiles?

It shows us the path of development of information systems and from that the
structure of 'meaning'. The act of making a distinction comes with an
emotional pattern that gives one a sense of 'meaning' in the form of
'objects' (wholes and parts) and 'relationships' (static and dynamic).
Note that this favours a general dichotomy 'type' of 1:many where the object
bias reduced the 'many' to 1. When you go 'past' the 1:1 we enter the world
of 1:many which is a hierarchic world and so we have 'levels' of meaning.
Damasio et al has demonstrated that there is a syntax-biased emotional
pattern in the left hemisphere that is limited to the distinctions of
'correct' vs 'incorrect'. I think you can see how this can emerge for
waypoint mapping.

The recursive application of this 'simple' emotion, and so a demonstration
of feedback processes at work, takes us into relational analysis 'in depth'
and the emergence of emotional patterns that go towards identifying
'wholes', 'parts', 'static relationships' and 'dynamic relationships'. Add
the text/context dichotomy and you get the beginnings of sophisticated
communication systems where these general 'feelings' are particularised
using words, metaphors, symbols; the emotion-based patterns are invarient
across the species but the 'free will' we use in creating the words etc
'hides' this and we see supposidly 'independent' disciplines, schools of

>Chris (previously):
>Sperry's error was in seeing the left as all parts and the
>right as whole. Not true. The left is all objects and the right all
>Really? Do Davidson and Hugdahl actually say this?


They are the editors, there are papers in the text that demonstrate these
biases -- see my webpage for
some quotes.

>Chris (previous):
>FYI 'God in the head syndrome" is also known as "runner's high" and results
>when serotonin uptake 'collapses' and the system gets flooded with the
>stuff. Uptake is too slow (none at all!? :-))
>No, I'd have to disagree there. Runner's high is most likely to be
>endorphin mediated. AS the Prozac work has demonstrated serotonin uptake
>effects would be too slow to produce the runner's high which acts within
>some 30 minutes or so.

more. about 1.5 hours (common in marathons).

>Derek: (previously)
>>Serotoninergic receptor non-specific blockers do seem to also block some
>>the effects of LSD, but I don't know if you can read too much into
>Chris (previously):
>I think you can. When you analyse something the initial characteristics
>detected, although 'raw' and 'general' will always be there no matter how
>much you 'dig' and attempt to brush them aside. There ARE two threads at
>work 'in here' and their characteristics determine all that follows....
>I'm still not convinced. My attempts to 'dig and brush them aside' are
>actually attempts to make the necessary connections. I can't agree yet
>"There ARE two threads at
>work 'in here' and their characteristics determine all that follows...." I
>can see that the post-Sperryian ideas may still be valuable, but I can't
>any evidence to link them with what we currently know about


'In here' seems to function through the recursive use of dichotomisations.
At the first level of analysis there is A and NOT A (AKA A/B). Applied
recursively we move 'up' in powers of 2 such that each level of recursion
brings out more patterns. After only a few steps we have an emerging
continuum of patterns, 64 at this level and it gets to 4096 very quickly.
BUT, this said, the original distinctions still influence by 50%. IF you add
more and more feedback so you can get 'emergence' where something apparently
'independent' develops but it has the same general format as its source.

In this sense the 'fundamental' categorisation of a neuron is ON:OFF. This
is first level thinking, fundamentalist, EITHER/OR. Start to add feedback
processes, and so you move into relational areas and so context links,
hormone sensitivity etc

>Chris (previous):
>The depression link is to the RIGHT side and is tied to serotonin pathways
>that do seem to be more right thread oriented than left and so will appear
>in the largest expression of right-thread characteristics, i.e. the right
>hemisphere of the neocortex.
>Schizophrenia is more LEFT oriented where the 'excluded middle' suddenly is
>given 'random' preference that can be frightening to a 'left biased'
>individual -- 'strange' connects are made and the independence bias makes
>this all very 'strange' -- at times psychotic... (the left is also the
>source of the concept of 'randomness'... if drugs play with this I think
>can see the potential affects on cognition!)
>For instance I would prefer to take the view that schizophrenia is a
>with the dopaminergic system. I don't think that we need Sperry at this
>juncture. In the absence of any firm connection between the pharmacology
>and the neuropsychology, it's best not to make too many quantum leaps of


I do think that the 'thread' concept can add to our determination about what
is going on and the pharamcology/neurology link is part of our being in that
the neurons acts as warp and the neurotransmitters/neuromodulators act as
weft. From these interactions come patterns of 'meaning'....



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