Re: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams

Mark M. Mills (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 15:32:54 -0400

Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 15:32:54 -0400
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: Re: comparison/contrast of memes and engrams
In-Reply-To: <060f01bf1604$f55609c0$9f21e7d8@proftim>


At 10:19 PM 10/13/99 -0700, you wrote:
>What would describe as the the fitness landscape of an L-meme?

There are probably a lot of ways to do this. The following is the first to
come to mind.

Consider an L-meme version of Kaufmann's N-K fitness landscape.

N=L-memes in neural system
K=the number of linkages between different L-memes contributing to a given

Fitness is simply a measure a group's average ability to produce viable
offspring. Alternatively, fitness could be defined as a groups average
ability to produce offspring with the same L-meme.

For experimental purposes, L-memes are defined to be patterns of synapse
gates (on/off) capable of producing an isomorphic signal response to a
given stimulus for arbitrary time period (day, month, year). Since synapse
gates appear to require 'reset' periods, there would be a need to limit
testing to 'awake and alert' periods. The study analyzing cat optical
neural signals which I referred to a few days ago suggests a possible
testing technique. Less invasive testing procedures would be useful.

Just as genes are identified by protein production, the L-meme is
identified by behavior production (in this case a neural impulse).

Neither K nor N would be easy to estimate. If one considers gross neural
cell counts and assumes a fixed percentage of nerve cells participating in
L-meme patterns (10%?), then one can quickly come up with N for any animal.
K may be relatively static for various taxa. For example, K may be much
lower for reptiles when compared to mammals. Humans may have taken an
evolutionary path that expanded K above that of other primates, expanding
the N-K landscape.

One might look at N-K for people labeled 'autistic' and compare their
abilities to the population in general.

In terms of the Wilson review of Meme Machine, I'm avoiding the problem of
saying the openning bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony are a powerful meme
because they are common. I've defined fitness of the L-meme in terms of
organism success.

I could go on, but I'll let you pick the direction.


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