Re: virus: Limbic Understanding
Thu, 13 Feb 1997 10:32:34 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 7 Feb 1997, Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Here's some fodder on the subject of decisions being made before the
> conscious mind is made aware of them. This is why I think limiting the
> scope of memes to linguistic information is in error. We may need to talk
> about something like "proto-memes" in the future. A "proto-meme" being
> (my definition here, folks) information that spreads in accordance with
> the model of memes, yet is non-(or proto-)linguistic in nature.

I won't feel this need: I've seen *lots* of memetic information encoded
in a nonlinguistic method. However, the scope expansion is a good idea.


> This is from a paper on Synesthesia by Richard E. Cytowic, M.D., author of
> "The Man Who Tasted Shapes", a good laymans introduction to the primacy of
> the paleo-mammalian brain (limbic system) over the cortex.
> (Sorry, in advance, about the length. I clipped as much as I could
> without losing context.)
> _________________________________________________________________
> Synesthesia: Phenomenology And Neuropsychology
> A review of current knowledge
> Richard E. Cytowic 1995


> 8.2 The word "multiplex" is usually applied to contemporary concepts
> of brain organization that take into account volume transmission,
> distributed systems, non-linear dynamics, and the thermodynamic energy
> costs of any given biologic neural process. Such newer models remain
> largely unknown, a surprising unfamiliarity given their implications -
> for example, that we are irrational creatures by design and that
> emotion, not reason, may play the decisive role both in how we think
> and act. Additionally, our brains are not passive receivers of energy
> flux, but dynamic explorers that actively seek out the stimuli that
> interest them and determine their own contexts for perception. Ommaya
> (in press) has elegantly articulated a number of powerful
> contradictions in conventional models of brain organization that led
> to his reevaluation of the role of emotion in cognition and behavior.
> Indeed, he describes consciousness as "a type of emotion," and one of
> emotion's roles as a "cognitive homeostat".

The lack of recognition of this model may have something to do with
psychiatric diagnoses. Someone who *consciously* uses this metaphor
*will* have at least mild functional evidence of Attention Deficit

After all, consciously multiplexed attention *will* prevent sustained
attention in most academic settings. [Graduate school is the first
place I've been in where the instructors ignore the techniques
required to capture everything on the board--such as the stack
of totally irrelevant notes in parallel with the class notes.]

Having extreme emotional reactions to mistakes in one's work can be
useful in preventing them.

> 8.5 I am hardly rejecting either reason or the role of the neocortex
> in objective assessment or assigning meaning. Though we quickly speak
> of reason dominating emotion, the reverse is actually true: the limbic
> brain easily overwhelms thinking.

So "We" propagate this myth so strongly that the physical reality is

> 8.8 Emotion did not get left behind in evolution. Reason and emotion
> evolved together and their neural substrates are densely
> interconnected. Yet each concerns itself with a different task. The
> word "salience", which means to "leap up" or "stick out", describes
> how the limbic brain alerts us to what is meaningful. We might say
> that the emotional brain deals with qualitatively significant
> information.

Such as: "I have just written down an error in this mathematics proof."

> 8.9 The limbic brain's use of common structures for different
> functions such as memory, emotion, and attention may partly explain
> why humans excel at making decisions based on incomplete information,
> "acting on our hunches." We know more than we think we know. And yet
> are we not always surprised at our insights, inspirations, and
> creativity? And do we not just as often reject our direct experience
> in favor of "objective facts" instead?

I.e., let beliefs about Objective Reality dominate current Subjective
reality? There are many uses for this.


/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd